Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Why, Yes, You ARE Losing It
We've all heard of the new weight-loss drug, Alli (pronounced
"Ally," long "I") which is now available over the counter for a whopping @$60 (for a one-month supply). Women are reportedly snatching it off the shelves in a frenzy.
But how does this "magic bullet" work? Well, it's a lower-potency version of the prescription drug Xenical (that didn't do well due to its nasty side effects). Though Alli is not quite as potent, it works exactly the same way: it blocks your body from absorbing about 25 percent of the fat that you eat. (In a diet of 3,000 calories and 100 grams of fat, this would knock out about 225 calories.)
If that sounds too easy, it's because it is. First of all, it does nothing to calories that come from carbohydrates and protein, and bear in mind that the average woman needs @2,000 calories a day to maintain her weight, not 3,000 (unless she happens to be training for a marathon). So how many calories are you really blocking? Not a whole heck of a lot. Second, lower potency or not, if you check out Alli's Web site, you'll find an entire section devoted to its nasty potential side effects, namely "bowel changes," such as "gas with oily spotting," "loose stools" or "more frequent stools that may be hard to control," the page says, before likening the undigested fat -- which will show up in the toilet -- to "the oil on top of a pizza." In short, it's quite clear that the human body is not designed to expel a quarter of the fat it eats. Indeed, they suggest, until you are used to Alli, perhaps taking an extra pair of slacks or undergarments to work would be wise.
But you can prevent these side effects, at least to some degree. Alli's makers tell us to merely limit ourselves to no more than 15 grams of fat per meal. In other words, eat a low-fat diet. Well, knock me over with a feather! If you're already eating a low-fat diet, why would you need the Alli? In fact, wouldn't Alli then be a bad idea? Because fat is an essential macronutrient--we need about 60 grams of it daily for basic bodily functions such as hormone transport, etc.
In fact, Alli sounds maybe a little too much like taking laxatives after a large meal in order to lose weight. And we have a name for that practice: bulimia.
Hat tip to Salon.