It sounds like a late-night infomercial scam: "Lose weight fast! Without dieting or exercise!" But the gimmick is real—if you're obese and live at high altitudes. Researchers in Germany sent obese males to live at high altitude without changing diet or exercise and found they lost weight and kept it off for four weeks after returning to lower altitudes.
Scientists from Ludwig Maximillian University in Zurich chose 20 males averaging 230 pounds and classified as obese and monitored their daily eating and exercise habits at low altitude. They then moved them to an air-conditioned facility in Germany at 8,700 feet for two weeks, where they all lost an average of 3.3 lbs. without any dietary restrictions. They were also specifically asked not to exercise.
The researchers think some of the weight loss came from a naturally decreased appetite at altitude (they ate an average of 734 fewer calories per day), but they also think they experienced a metabolism bump that comes from just existing at altitude. Scientists aren't sure why the hunger hormone leptin is being inhibited by life at altitude, but they know it works, and were surprised by how long it lasted afterward.
The head scientists warns that this is just a preliminary study; his sample group is too small and offers more questions than answers. But for now, if you need to drop a few, you're probably better off headed for the mountains than the beach. Hey—it sure beats fat camp.
via The Goat