As long as human beings exist, we'll be searching for ways to be less fat without the bothersome obstacles of expending physical effort or enduring feelings of hunger, hence the continual stream of weird products that promise to help us in this quest, such as the breed of weight-loss pills that, instead of suppressing your appetite with a stimulant-type ingredient, simply swell up in your stomach to mimic fullness. If that sounds disgusting and/or potentially fatal, well, that's probably because it is, as Elle's April Long discovers.
"Negative calorie" foods like celery, which reputedly burns more energy chewing than it actually contains, are the dieter's holy grail. So now a soft drink company is making the enticing claim that "Celsius"—super-caffeinated, vitamin and chemical-laced—burns 100 calories per can, meaning you can lose weight merely by sitting on your ass sucking down soda. "The beverage ramps up the body's metabolism," it's promised, "allowing those who consume it to stoke their calorie-burning furnaces."
Hoping to lose a couple extra pounds before spring break? Still deciding which diet will get you into that size-zero bikini the fastest? A group of Harvard researchers just released the results of a comprehensive study of four different weight loss methods, which was conducted over a two-year period and involved 800 participants. So which one worked the best?
So it turns out that various "natural" weight-loss supplements may actually contain real drugs, but you'll have to hurry to get your hands on them before the FDA sniffs out all the products that don't disclose their exciting illicit ingredients. Following a class action lawsuit against StarCaps by NFL players who tested positive for the drug bumetanide, the pills—which are sold by surgerized socialite Nikki Haskell with the tagline "Dare to be thin!" and endorsed by her friends like Ivana Trump—have been pulled from the shelves of stores like GNC, and the FDA is continuing to test other diet supplements.
Ever looked at ads for exercise devices that promise to morph your body into that of a teenage Korean gymnast on steroids and been vaguely tempted, notwithstanding the fact that the before and after pictures feature a "results not typical" disclosure in 3-point font? Especially since the transformation is always touted as fast and involving a very minimal time commitment? Well, exercise physiologist Carl Foster has come to save you from yourself.
Yes, the holidays feel like they were about a hundred years ago, but it must still be January since journalists are still writing about dieting and detoxes. In case you hadn't noticed, pills and drinks that claim to rid your organs of toxins, your skin of impurities, and your ass of fat are one of the few thriving areas in the realm of expensive things that nobody needs, and even better for their purveyors, their profit margins are inversely proportionate to the cost of ingredients.
Even if women didn't have to deal with inferior pay and career advancement, the burden of childbirth, an obligation to rip out body hair with hot wax, and Greg Behrendt telling us what to do all the time, men would still have it easier: Their brains are better wired to resist eating, according to a new study, which makes dieting less agonizing. So, yes, some people have no excuse. [Time]
It's the new year, otherwise known as the peak money-making time for anyone who purports to help people rid themselves of their holiday-acquired chub. As you know all too well, starvation regimens, exercise routines, juice fasts/cleanses, and full-body liposuction all involve an annoying degree of effort, money, or pain. (And you're probably also aware that diet pill pushers are liars.) But what else is left to sell to the eager and gullible public? How about the promise of permanent weight-loss simply by changing the way you think?
We're nearly a decade into the new millennium. We carry miniature computers around in our pockets, smooth wrinkles with quick injections, fix poor eyesight with a 3-second laser beam, and watch TV shows about robotic beings whose lives are scripted for them. Yet the most vital scientific breakthrough of them all continues to elude mankind: When will scientists get their act together and create a pill for instant weight loss with no unpleasant side effects?
If you thought that carbophobes were tedious to be around because they talk incessantly about their noble refusal of french fries, bread, pizza, pasta and all the other food that makes life worth living, it turns out there's another reason: Cutting out carbohydrates actually interferes with mental function and causes memory loss, according to a new study. All the more reason that certain people might want to consider eating a sandwich. [Daily Mail]
Wondering why so many diets have failed you in the past? It's probably because you weren't properly incentivized! A study by behavioral economists at the University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon found that structuring a weight loss plan around cold hard cash worked marvelously, not surprisingly. The only downside? When the payments stopped, so did the weight loss. [Time]
It's almost impossible to imagine now, we know, but there once was a time when cultural lynchpins Blair Waldorf and Serena Van der Woodsen existed only in the pages of YA novels, and as such their corrupting influence of superficiality, decadence and greed was limited to young girls (and a few girlish boys), rather than an across-the-board, if small, section of the TV-viewing public. But will the supposed literary antithesis to the Gossip Girl books make it to primetime? Let's hope not.
As if the calorie-counts that chain restaurants now have to display weren't scary enough (at least McDonalds has the sense to put the numbers in a size barely visible to the naked eye), the city's Health Department is now ambushing you on the subway with reminders that your diet sucks and you're never going to shift those stubborn extra pounds. As part of a three-month campaign that started Monday, posters will tell commuters how many calories are in particular snacks and meals (a giant apple bran muffin, 470 calories!) and point out that adults should eat only 2000 calories a day—which we're sure you don't need us to tell you is used up simply by looking at the frosting on cupcakes.
Valerie Frankel—who last week totally nailed Sarah Palin's "pretty girl syndrome"—has a new book out, Thin Is the New Happy, in which she describes the anorexic culture at erstwhile Condé Nast title Mademoiselle. At the magazine, she says: "Self-starvation was a competitive sport... of the dozen-odd women in the articles department, three-quarters of us had some kind of eating quirk or habit that any shrink alive would diagnose as borderline pathological." Obviously the staff at surviving titles like Glamour were better at working while delirious from hunger. [Page Six]
Detoxing (the respectable way to refer to starving yourself to drop as many pounds as possible in as short a time as possible) has been cleverly co-opted by makers of "cleanse" drinks, like Blueprint (Tatiana Boncompagni's favorite, just $75 for a day's worth of vegetable water!), which has replaced last year's cayenne pepper and maple syrup "master cleanse" as the fashionable way to get skinny while pretending you're relieving your organs of toxins. The new issue of Allure dedicates an entire feature to "detox diets," with quotes from the pushers of drinks like Blueprint and their devotees. Sorry Allure, simply replacing solid food with liquid is passé—anyone who's anyone is removing the digestive system from the equation entirely and hooking themselves up to an IV.
If looking in the mirror at your fat thighs isn't sufficient motivation to go on a diet, perhaps helping to feed the needy will be the spur you need? Weight Watchers has come up with a plan whereby for every pound you lose, they'll donate money to charities such as Action Against Hunger. So the extent of your vanity will literally dictate whether or not a third-world child will starve, which is warped in a way we can't even begin to parse. [Reuters]
Did you indulge a bit too much over the long weekend? Looking for a way to shed some extra pounds with a gimmicky, new system? Naturally there's a new diet at your service: It's called Smart For Life, and it's just arrived in New York with a center in Midtown. But how does it differ from Slimfast, Nutrisystem, Weightwatchers, The Zone, South Beach, and Jenny Craig? Well, it consists of eating cookies.
Here's a heartwarming adage from my grandmother: "You can never be too rich or too thin." (Can't wait to see you this weekend, Safta! Yes, I'm laying off the matzo.) Emily Brill has always been rich, but hasn't always been thin. In fact, she was once chubby in a spoiled 10 year-old kind of way, which makes sense because she is the daughter of media millionaire Steve Brill, so she probably got to eat allll the candy she wanted to. But now Emily is thin. And on her blog, she announced that she'll do whatever it takes to stay that way.
The book you will want to have on your nightstand for spring is Are You Losing It?, the new tome from those noted publishers GlaxoSmithKline. It will teach you what to do when your new diet pills (called "Alli"—over-the-counter Xenical, basically) give you diarrhea at inopportune times! Also, do they realize that "Alli" sounds like that girl you hated in 7th grade?