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It’s Faulty Diet Fixes Friday!

by Denis Faye - The Nutrition Nerd | February 21, 2014

Happy Friday, Nerd Herd! I hope you all have big plans this weekend. What am I up to? Glad you asked! Last weekend was my first ever cycling race, the UCLA Road Race out in beautiful(ish) Pearblossom, CA, where I spent a little over an hour being ritually beaten down by a bunch of cocky twenty-somethings and a little over a day hocking up the lovely pollution I’d inhaled by keeping my heart rate at an average 170bpm for 25 miles in the middle of the SoCal desert.

In other words, last weekend was awesome. And this weekend will be awesomer, given I plan to spend it being beaten down by a nine-year-old–specifically, my daughter.

In honor of all this awesomeness, I’d like to run a “Friday Stoke” post to end this week on a positive note–but I’m not going to because A) that’s Steve Edwards’ schtick and B) that’s not how I roll. So instead, I’m going to do what I usually do and mock something. Today, let’s look at stupid new diet tools.

Our first target, I mean tool, comes from Kirsten and Rebecca over at Beachbody (the “BB News Ladies”), who reported recently on something called the Obalon.

The procedure happens in the doctor’s office where you swallow a pill attached to a very small tube. The pill contains an inflatable balloon that the doctor inflates once it’s in your stomach. Then, the doctor cuts the tube and the balloon – which is about the size of an apple – sits on the top of your stomach to create a feeling of fullness.

Finally, a way to feel gassy and bloated without needing to worry about awkward elevator moments! That said, if you could figure out a way to swallow one of these pills and fart out a balloon, it would make you The World’s Greatest Party Clown. (Makes you look at that photo up top a little different, huh?)

Although it’s not currently available in the U.S., but when it is–and it will–you’ll be able to eat a balloon for about five thousand bucks a pop. Oh dear, did I just say “pop”? Maybe a bad choice of words.

Along the same lines, scientists at the University of Birmingham (that’s in England) have discovered that when they take hydrocolloids derived from seaweed, starch, and citrus peel and place them in an acidic environment (i.e. your stomach), they form into a “stiff” hard-to-digest gel that fills your belly and promotes satiety.

Only problem is, as one of the scientists told The Telegraph“The use of gel alone is more than capable of providing prolonged satiety but leads to unpleasant sensations for the consumer if there is no delivery of energy to the body to compliment the sensation of satiety.”

In other words there’s no nutritional value in the gel, causing your body to ask, “Where the hell is that food I just ate?” Oddly enough, I imagine eating a balloon would cause similar issues, but no one seems to be worrying about that.

And here’s what sucks about both of these innovations. They may lead to weight loss in the short term, but they don’t teach folks anything about how much they should eat. They don’t condition people to understand the sensation of feeling satisfied verses feeling stuffed. So you have your rubber belly ball or your Frankenjello filling your stomach,  but you continue to pork out–only not as much because you can’t–and once that’s gone, you just go back to old habits because you learned nothing about self control or portioning.

Our final “tool” comes from the University of Florida, where researchers are developing a mouth spray containing peptide YY, a gut hormone released after eating. Squirting it on on your tongue should, in theory, make you feel like you’ve already eaten.

Early variations of the research involved mainlining peptide YY directly into the bloodstream, which resulted in vomiting due to the intense concentration of the hormone. Theoretically, the spray solves this issue, but you better believe that if this stuff is ever released commercially, college-aged boys across the country will take to squirting entire tubes of the stuff into their mouths to induce “Binaca Barfing.” If you don’t believe me, google “milk chugging.”

Regardless of frat boy antics, I can’t get behind the idea. Many people with eating problems binge due to psychological issues–and you can really spray a satiety hormone on emotional baggage. Furthermore, as anyone who has ever sat down to a Thanksgiving dinner knows, Americans are awesome at ignoring satiety signals. I think it might be in the Constitution. Something about “securing the Blessings of Liberty and all-you-can-eat Sizzler buffets.” For most overweight people, ignoring hormones like peptide YY is a daily experience. Trying to fix this problem with a squirter is like trying to put out a forest fire with an eyedropper.

That’s it for today. Have a great weekend and try not to eat any balloons.

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