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5 New High-Tech Ways to Lose Weight

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Can ultrasounds kill fat cells? The UltraShape—just received FDA approval in the US last year, although it’s been all the rage in Canada for years—promises to do just that. Done in three separate sessions roughly 10 to 14 days apart, you need to be able to “pinch an inch” of fat at the midsection to be a good candidate. If you are, doctors will take measurements like weight and BMI before performing the procedure as detailed by writer Cheryl Wischhover for The Cut. “[The technician] gathered up as much of my pinch-able abdominal fat as possible and formed it into a rectangular shape, sort of resembling a meat loaf,” she writers. “She taped around the rectangle, which became the treatment area, then applied gooey gel on top of the whole thing. The treatment, which involved moving a warm hand piece all over the tummy rectangle, lasted fewer than ten minutes.”

The treatments cost roughly $1,200 each, but Wischover says she saw a three-quarter-inch waistline decrease after following the post-procedure instructions for the next seven days (simply, eat healthily and workout). “Most important, my stomach feels flatter. Do you know that blissful early morning flat-belly feeling? That’s what I feel like all day now — there’s definitely less protrusion,” she explains. (That overstuffed belly feeling is the worst. Check out 7 Disturbing Facts About a Food Baby). 

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Ultrasound Melting

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Can ultrasounds kill fat cells? The UltraShape—just received FDA approval in the US last year, although it’s been all the rage in Canada for years—promises to do just that. Done in three separate sessions roughly 10 to 14 days apart, you need to be able to “pinch an inch” of fat at the midsection to be a good candidate. If you are, doctors will take measurements like weight and BMI before performing the procedure as detailed by writer Cheryl Wischhover for The Cut. “[The technician] gathered up as much of my pinch-able abdominal fat as possible and formed it into a rectangular shape, sort of resembling a meat loaf,” she writers. “She taped around the rectangle, which became the treatment area, then applied gooey gel on top of the whole thing. The treatment, which involved moving a warm hand piece all over the tummy rectangle, lasted fewer than ten minutes.”

The treatments cost roughly $1,200 each, but Wischover says she saw a three-quarter-inch waistline decrease after following the post-procedure instructions for the next seven days (simply, eat healthily and workout). “Most important, my stomach feels flatter. Do you know that blissful early morning flat-belly feeling? That’s what I feel like all day now — there’s definitely less protrusion,” she explains. (That overstuffed belly feeling is the worst. Check out 7 Disturbing Facts About a Food Baby). 

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Digestion-Mimicking Pills

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If your body thinks it’s consuming something, even though it’s not, it may kickstart the process of digestion when it doesn’t necessarily need to, according to new research from the Salk Institute published in the journal Nature Medicine. This may lead to greater fat burn, and we may soon be able achieve this metabolic boost in the form of a capsule. Interestingly, the pill technology is also formulated to stay only in the intestines in order to control side effects. Here’s how it works: “This pill is like an imaginary meal,” says study author Ronald Evans, director of Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory. “It sends out the same signals that normally happen when you eat a lot of food, so the body starts clearing out space to store it. But there are no calories and no change in appetite.”

The study was conducted in mice, but the effects of the drug (called fexaramine) were widespread and not limited to weight loss. Along with an increased fat burn, the pill also curbed weight gain, controlled blood sugar levels, and reduced bad cholesterol and inflammation in the body. Next up? The researchers will attempt human trials on their new technology.

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A “Workout in a Bottle”

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If you sometimes dread hitting the treadmill or driving to yoga class, well-known candy creator Nestlé feels your pain. In fact, they’re trying to bottle up exercise for consumers at the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences. This mystical lab is somewhere in the mystical hills of Switzerland, where, apparently, scientists work on strange, dream-like weight-loss technologies. RCorbis Images

“Imagine being able to take a pill that lets you eat all of the ice cream, cookies, and cakes that you wanted—without gaining any weight,” the University of Southern California researchers say (tantalizingly) in the press release for their 2014 study. Yes, it sounds like the diet your fantasies are made of, right? Scientists are looking into it.

In a study with worms, researchers zeroed in on a gene that suppresses obesity in a lab setting. They found certain worms with genetic mutations leading to a hyperactive SKN-1 gene could down a Western-like diet high in fat and sugar (think soda, fries, burgers and sweets) without gaining any weight. Normal worms “packed on the pounds,” so to speak. Since SKN-1 is a gene that exists in humans as the Nrf2 protein, it might just translate. Corbis Images

You may have heard about the epic diet of Michael Phelps during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. According to sources, he was taking in more than 12,000 calories a day to fuel his pool sessions. Fascinated and confused by with Phelps’ ability to consume five times more calories than the average American and not gain weight—for instance, running a marathon only burns around 2,500 calories—NASA materials scientist Ray Cronise looked into it. Since he was familiar with heat transfer and the effects of cold on metabolism from his work in space, he stumbled across a discovery: Phelps was burning calories simply by being submerged in cool water for hours a day. To test his theory, since he’d been trying to lose weight for years, Cronise began a routine of taking cold showers and going for shirtless walks in winter. He lost almost 27 pounds in six weeks. He now studies this science.

We’ve heard similar ideas for burning more calories from science before—eat ice to burn more calories! allow your body to shiver indoors!—but more tech seems to be in development. Notably, with a new ice-pack-laden vest called the Cold Shoulder, developed by Wayne B. Hayes, an associate professor at the University of California at Irvine. According to The Atlantic, the vest can help you burn 250 calories in one hour. However, don’t get the wrong idea about cold weight-loss tech, says Cronise. “You can’t freeze yourself thin,” he says. “When I first started, I had kind of a naive approach that I was going to suck calories out of people.” Although this is cool and interesting, tenets of a healthy lifestyle—like, yes, diet and exercise—are still the most important ingredient for sustainable weight loss. (There’s no time like the present to start eating healthy. Check out Your Supermarket Strategy for Healthier Eating This Year.)

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By  Jenna Birch

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