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Weight Loss: What Is That One Weird Trick Anyway?

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Weight loss is still the pot of gold at the end of the Internet rainbow. If a casual perusal of offers on the Internet is to be believed, Al Gore’s invention is mainly useful for selling three things:

- Penis pills
- Get rich plans
- Weight loss

No, porn is not on the list. The porn is free.

Not long ago, there was a spate of squiggling little ads on almost every other webpage promising to show you – for a cost – that “one weird trick” for several different ailments. Slate did a nice expos√© on this phenomenon.

Among these was diabetes – that turned out to be cinnamon; there, I saved you $39.95.

Another “weird trick” ad was for penis enlargement. That was a “male formula” supplement that costs $90 a month on auto-renew. You’re welcome, again.

And finally, weight loss. The weight loss “one weird trick” was extracts of gardenia cambogia and acai – which are now disproven.

Even though all these things come and go, new ads for weight loss pop up again and again. We might not believe the “get rich with ___________ (fill in the blank),” but we know in our heart of hearts that we can lose the weight. We’ve seen them do it on Biggest Loser. We’ve sat through the YouTube videos of people slurping down smoothies and shedding time-lapse pounds while inspirational music plays. We’ve seen the Instagram photos of celebrities who claim to be using the same program that you can use, with no special add-ons.

And weight loss is legitimately a big deal. We know we need to do it. We hear the warnings about strokes from high blood pressure; the injections and blindness from Type 2 diabetes; heart attacks from clogged arteries. That kind of thing spins horrific images through your mind when you’re flopping in bed, trying to find a position to breathe better.

It has long been thought that PT Barnum coined the phrase “There’s a sucker born every minute.” But it is likely that this was not Barnum at all but one of his critics, poking fun at Barnum and his customers. Barnum’s dictum was “There’s a customer born every minute.”

Either way, someone willing to shell out cash is born “every minute.” And with the access to each other that the Internet now provides, that number has likely increased exponentially.

Some say that weight loss is simple – not easy, but simple. They say it is a matter of “calories in, calories out”, and that what we eat plays a much bigger role than trying to exercise that back off. They acknowledge some variations in methods for restricting calories in, but in the end still claim that formula is the Golden Rule of all Dieting. Everything else is variations on the theme.

Some say that the kinds of calories matter, when you eat them matters. That makes sense on some levels. Does it matter whether you eat 1200 calories spread over an entire day vs. eating them all in one meal right before going to bed?

And why is everything is always measured in days? What if you eat 1200 calories before bed, then another 1200 when you wake up? Does the act of sleeping draw some demarcation between calorie intakes?

Don’t believe that can even be done? The Daily Mail showed that KFC’s 10-piece bag of Original Chicken Bites is 1300 calories. McDonalds Big Breakfast with syrup and margarine is 1350. And these are not outliers.

The fact is, we don’t have some of these answers. And there is always someone to prey on that uncertainty, to tell us that they know something that you don’t know, that hardly anyone else knows. And they will tell you that secret – whether it is weird, mystical, or clinical – for a price.

Well, except me. I told you three “weird tricks” for nothing.

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Weight Loss: What Is That One Weird Trick Anyway?
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