The current solutions are inadequate. Dieting seldom works, and when it does, the dieters usually eventually regain the weight. Some studies show this pogo-ing to be worse than not losing the weight in the first place. Diet pills tend to increase metabolism, and until recently none appear to be without some serious side effects. A proper pill should work on the hunger side, not at the metabolic end. The fat absorption blockers give anal leakage, a problem as bad as it sounds.
When I have tried to diet (many times), I tend to gain weight, not lose it. So I tried working out, and now I am stronger than I have ever been. My weight did not change, but it certainly redistributed, and now my shoulders don't fit in the standard seats in business commuter jets.
Vastly increased cardio would finish the trick, but I don't seem to take the time to do the job right. We do have two DDR hard dance pads in our house, and are considering buying a used arcade version. It certainly helps, but the dancing has been way too hard on my joints. We have a lot of osteoarthritis in my immediate family.
This really isn't about will power, and shouldn't be. A well-fed human can eat 1,000,000 calories a year, enough to gain 300 pounds. This amount is finely regulated by several feedback loops, and science started understanding these loops around 1990. I revisit the clinical trials and current research frequently to see if they are there yet. When they figure it out, someone is going to make a lot of money, a large number of people will be wearing smaller sizes, and a number of diseases should arrive later in life.
On my last scan, I found two encouraging possibilities. The first is a treatment that Regeneron is working on. It is an injection that seems to modify the feedback loop settings to less hunger. Reduced appetite is the right answer, not the puritanical diatribes of the dieticians. I am not going to eat broccoli, even if I am on my deathbed and the cardiologist says it is the only thing that will save me. A picky eater to the end.
The problem with the Regeneron treatment appears to be that the bodies immune system soon learns about the drug, and neutralizes it. You get to keep the modifications it made during the first couple of weeks. That one is a long shot.
The second drug is P57, which Pfizer is testing and has passed Stage I clinical trials. The drug is derived from an African cactus-like plant called Hoodia Gordonii, which has been used by the Han bushmen to suppress appetite on their hunting trips.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that this drug simply suppresses appetite. Stage II trials are starting, so it will be at least 2--3 years before this is available, if it works out. There is also much ado about patent rights and royalties for the bushmen. There is enough potential money here to make them quite rich, and thoroughly destroy their lifestyle, which is ok with me if it is ok with them.
I am unwilling to wait for the FDA-mandated gauntlet. I don't think much of them as a regulatory body. I think they have caused more premature death and suffering than they have prevented, thalidomide notwithstanding. See Milton Freedman's writings for further details.
The food additive industry is eagerly selling extracts of this cactus for varying amounts of money, and I have decided to give it a try. I am well aware that their claims of purity may be meaningless, and that the pills I am buying might be sugar coated rat turds. They may also have lots of other non-P57 ingredients that have received no testing. They all do seem to have a variety of snake-oil style supplement additives, like chromium (for stability of blood sugar levels) and grapefruit seeds and such. The pills aren't very big, so there isn't a lot of space for bulky additives. In addition, the common price seems to be $30 for 90 pills, but one company is selling them for about $10. It is possible that this is a reasonable bargain, or that I am getting the rat droppings and the $30 version has the real thing.
Then there is the question of dosage. The bottle suggests one, two, or three pills an hour before meals, depending on your body mass index. I find that three of these pills gives me substantial gastric upset, even when I am taking ranitidine, a cheap H2 blocker from Costco. Antacids help.
What is the blood clearance time of this drug? I have no idea. The Stage I documents must have such information, but I have not been able to find them, and they may not even be public until after the trials are over. Does the drug clear in a few hours, as the directions suggest? Or does it build up in the bloodstream over days, as some drugs do?
Like most fatties, it is the evening time when I mostly overeat, so I take one to two pills before breakfast and possible lunch if I have them along with me, and three around dinnertime.
Is it working? I am very suspicious of my own observations on this. People can fool themselves so very easily. I am not using a bathroom scale. If this works, I should simply notice loosening pants over the weeks and months. That's the way a proper diet pill should work.
I do imagine that I am eating less. I have left more food on the plate, I think, and skipped the odd meal because I simply wasn't hungry. I just finished five days of travel, and skipped enough meals that I was actually fairly zonked and hungry when I returned to Newark airport. This isn't smoking: you can't go cold turkey on food for very long.
So, I will continue this experiment for a few months and see what happens. I will continue to order "Hoodia Diet Tabs" from the same place (Nature's RX.
7 Oct 2005:
6 Dec 2005. Though I am eating less, the weight oss has slowed. I've increased the daily dose to 4 grams of the dried plant material.