As of April 3, 2008; a Google search of the word “diet” would return you over 179,000,000 hits.
There are thousands upon thousands of individuals & corporations who will sell you the perfect solution to your weight loss dreams. Take this pill. Use this cream. Wear this belt. Do this workout. Try this diet.
Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., a U.S. market research company estimates that the weight loss industry had sales of $58 billion in 2007. They are projecting that by 2010, the industry will be worth $68.7 billion. This projection would have been even greater if it wasn’t for the scare of a possible recession.
So where do you start?
Let’s begin by dividing all of the different weight loss methods into 2 main camps.
Eat Less and Burn More
Simple. Eat less food and you WILL lose weight. That will be $58 billion, please.
Not so simple. Every seasoned dieter knows that our bodies are stubborn about holding onto our fat and that unless we are willing to survive on nothing but air and sunshine, (see breatharianism) we had better become smarter about burning body-fat.
To that end, smart people throughout history have com up with smart ways to help the rest of us eat less food. Here are some of their methods.
Instead of just eating less of the foods you usually eat, there have always been diet gurus willing to sell you their one of a kind, guaranteed to work, fat burning diet. Some work, some don’t. Some work for a while, but then stop working. Wikipedia lists 79 different types of diets. In future posts, I will analyze some of the diets on the market today.
Behaviour Modification Techniques
From 1895 to 1919, a man named Horace Fletcher popularized a method of eating that promised weight loss, greater health and an abundance of energy. His practice was called Fletcherizing. Practitioners of his method were called Fletcherizers. The secret of his method – chew each bite of food until it liquifies in your mouth. In 2008, a modified version of this technique is part of Paul McKenna’s “I Can Make You Thin” program.
Another behaviour modification technique comes from the field of psychology. Psychologists (see Judith Beck) are teaching cognitive behavioural therapy techniques to clients trying to lose weight.
Attempts to suppress appetite have been around almost forever. In the 1800s, tree sap & camphor tea were thought to suppress appetite. Ice water is purported to both suppress appetite and increase short term metabolism. Along the same lines, soup based diets (see Cabbage Soup diet) claim to suppress appetite.
Other methods of appetite suppressant include dietary fibre (see food & supplements), homeopathic & aromatherapy preparations, herbal appetite suppressants (see Hoodia Gordonii), and synthetics like fen-phen.
Diuretics & Laxatives
These two methods of weight loss have a long and undistinguished history. In the 1800s, dieters used Potassium acetate (diuretic) and chalk (laxative) for rapid yet temporary weight loss. Commonly used as a last ditch effort to lose weight FAST, laxatives and diuretics come in many forms.
While most natural diuretics, like asparagus and cranberries, have a relatively safe and gradual effect on body fluids, herbal products like ephedra, horsetail and dandelion root along with synthetic products such as lasix and aldactone have a much more powerful and potentially dangerous effect on fluid levels and your kidneys.
Like the diuretics, laxatives come in varying strengths and from both natural sources like coffee, senna leaf, and aloe vera as well as from synthetic sources like Tegaserod. Like diuretics, laxatives can have serious side effects when abused.
Fat Blockers & Carb Blockers
Fat and Carbohydrate blocking supplements are designed to stop either dietary fats or carbohydrates from being absorbed by your digestive system. The theory is that “blocked” fats and carbs pass straight through your digestive track without being used for energy or stored as body-fat.
Bulimia & Anorexia
Bulimia and Anorexia are the only methods of weight loss currently recognized in the AMA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as eating disorders. Other forms of disordered eating, such as binge eating, while not recognized as mental illnesses by the psychiatric industry, are still very serious medical conditions. To engage is these behaviours is dangerous.
Bariatric Bypass Surgery
Bariatric or Gastric Bypass surgery is the catch-all phrase for the different types of surgical procedures designed to treat obesity by altering the G.I. tract and consequently reducing the amount of food eaten and/or absorbed by the patient. As of April 2008, there are at least 8 different types of Gastric Bypass surgeries.
Like all surgeries, Gastric Bypass surgery is not without risk. On top of the surgical risk, the success of this procedure is not guaranteed. Recent research has shown a genetic component to the success of Gastric Bypass surgeries
As science learns more and more about our bodies, the search for effective weight loss moves farther away from diets, behaviour modification and diet pills and towards anti-obesity vaccines targeting various hormones (leptin, ghrelin, pyy, agrp, etc…) and genetic research.
While the search for a genetic answer to obesity is very exciting, it seems like for the present, genetic research into obesity is creating more questions than answers. I will be following this research closely and will be posting as new developments come to light.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, all of the different weight loss methods available today fall into two camps, Eat Less and Burn More.
This post served as a general introduction to the “Eat Less” methods of weight loss. My next post will address the “Burn More” methods.