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From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Starch Blocking Weight Loss Program! (Another Scam)
Date: 30 Apr 1997
Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs,,,,,alt.healing.reiki,

In <> "C. E. Custelco"
<> writes:

>It's new and it's already revolution in weight control programs.
>You can eat your daily food and LOSE WEIGHT! (Some limits on fat, beer
>and sugar recommended).
>How it works? It blocks 400 starch calories from your meal. Enzyme
>Alpha Amylase is inhibited (blocked) to digest starch - simple and works.
>Everything else is digested.

    This is complete nonsense.  If you managed to completely block all
digestion of starch you ate, the bacteria in your intestine would get
the sugars and you'd blow up like a balloon from gas, and then have
diarrhea.  Exactly like having lactose intolerance, and for the same
reason.  In fact, the well-known gas from beans is also a result of
incompletely digested sugars in beans.  Stuff that isn't digested
higher up, will always get digested by bacteria further down, and with
disasterous results.  There is actually a prescription starch digestion
blocker on the market for diabetics (called "Precose" or acarbose), but
its effect is only to slow digestion of starch down, not stop it.
Nearly the same calories are absorbed, and even here, the major side
effects are (you guessed it) gas and diarrhea.

   Several studies of the actually effect of weight-loss "starch
blockers" are in the literature.  In one famous one, the entire gut was
washed out with a "colonoscopy prep solution" several hours after a
test meal, or a test meal with starch blocker.  This was done for a
number of subjects.  The caloric content of both kinds of washout
mixtures was measured (yeah, gross work, but it's science).  The
result?  No difference.*  These things are scams.  They don't even
block starch digestion as well as Precose, and Precose is no good for
weight loss.

                                            Steve Harris, M.D.

*Citations of Basic Science

Bo-Linn GW, et al: Starch-blockers-- their effects on calorie
absorption from a high-starch meal. N Engl J Med 307:1413, 1982.

Garrow JS, et al: Starch blockers are ineffective in man. Lancet
1:60, 1983.

Carlson GL, et al: A bean alpha-amylase inhibitor formulation (is
ineffective in man). Science 219:393, 1983.


Starch blockers-- still no calorie free lunch.  N Engl J Med
307:1444, 1982

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Prescription Drugs?
Date: 26 Dec 1997 08:24:27 GMT

In <> (Lee Rodgers)
>The glaring misconception in this thread is that the body metabolism
>does obey tje laws of physics.  The body slows down th rate of
>metabolism when one consumes to few calories for maintenance of
>bodyweight.  A person who has used several low calorie diets over time
>will have a reduced metabolic rate.  Follow a 500-800 calories diet
>and the body adjusts its needs to that lower level over time.  So it
>is possible that many folks who used Optifast type diets or any of the
>very lowcalorie diets for a prolonged time of YO-YO dieting could GAIN
>on 800 calories per day.  Understand now?

   Nope.  This is nonsense.  An adult human of normal body weight needs
more than 800 kcal just to stay alive, even resting quietly without
moving.  It takes more than that just to do normal metabolism-- run
cell pumps, make urine, think, etc.

   It is true that when people starve their overall metabolism slows.
It is also true that almost all of the "slowing" is due to decreased
activity and (to a lesser extent) loss of lean body mass.  So much so
that it was historically quite difficult even to demonstrate a genuine
decrease in resting specific lean body mass energy use, in starvation,
in humans.  These days we finally believe there is one, but (as noted)
it's on the order of a 10% or 20% slowdown per gram of lean body mass.
In other words, it's insignificant.  (In lab animals, particularly
rodents, it's greater-- but rodents devote much more energy to keeping
warm, and have a much higher specific metabolic rate, and a lot of
specific calorie generating mechanisms that they can shut down that
adult humans don't.  Like brown fat metabolism).

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: 2,4-dinitrophenol and cellular respiration
Date: 12 Feb 1999 08:24:10 GMT

In <> Yan Boulanger
<> writes:

>I just would like to know which part of the cellular respiration will be
>affected by the herbicide 2,4 dinitrophenol.  Is it the ATP,
>mitochondria or what? Is there any chemical activity in that case?

   It's a mitochondrial poison which acts to decouple energy use from
ATP formation.  It was once used as a weight loss aid, and it did work.
You just burned off fat, like in the quack adds.  Alas, however,
although when you use the stuff you do lose weight though inefficient
food burning, you also do other nasty things to your body, as you can
well imagine.  The heart takes a beating, for example (no pun intended)
because if the large number of working mitochondria it needs.   As you
lose weight, your heart fails.  Fun-o.

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Failed gastroplasty... I need help!
Date: 5 Mar 1999 13:19:20 GMT

In <ziri-0503990546390001@> (Ziri) writes:

>Hi folks.
>   I'm a 31 year old male, 5 feet 7 inches tall.   I have been overweight
>my entire life. Severely overweight. For a brief time (during my high
>school years, thank god) I was able to be thin, thanks to appetite
>supressants (mazindol) supplied by my father, who was a doctor. When he
>passed away more than ten years ago, that supply of course stopped. I
>gained all my weight back and then some, eventually getting to about 315
>   Then I had a back injury that required surgery (two surgeries,
>actually). Long recovery, and more weight gain. After what I thought was
>sufficient research, I decided to have a vertical staple, silastic ring
>gastroplasty (2oz pouch, 12mm stoma) done in 1992. I lost perhaps 100
>pounds in less than a year. Then I began to find ways of satisfying my fat
>cravings. I was of course aware that the gastroplasty would not protect me
>from soft sweets like ice cream and the like, or from soft drinks (my
>greatest vice, more than a 2-liter bottle a day) but I was never very big
>on ice cream; I'm more a pizza and sub kind of fellow. I have begun to eat
>foods that slide through what must be a distended pouch with little
>difficulty, like greasy meats such as sausage or pork. These of course
>have a high fat content, which is what I suppose I crave. I am now back to
>300 pounds in weight and it is terribly depressing.
>   Of course before all this, I tried many diets and failed them all. I
>have become convinced that I need some kind of assistance to keep my
>appetite at bay. I have no energy or motivation to start exercising,
>especially in a public that would only ridicule such attempts. Not to
>mention that my back now hurts constantly, as well as joints like my knees
>and ankles. If I could lose a sufficient amount so that exercise would
>become less painful (physically and psychologically) I think I would have
>a fair chance at maintaining a lower weight.
>   I recall from my research the fact that around 20% of vertical
>gastroplasty patients did not achieve weight loss that the experimenters
>found significant, or experienced a gain beyond 5 years. I honestly
>thought that I would not be one of those people, but I am. I suppose one
>sees what he wants to see when he is desperate. I did not consider a more
>aggressive (and more effective) malabsorptive procedure because study
>statistics showed that it carried more risks. Doubtless I would have had
>trouble finding a surgeon who would do an intestinal bypass on me anyway
>(I believe they are reserved for the highly morbidly obese who are
>>500lbs). But at times like this I wish I had taken the risk.
>   Because of my previous success with mazindol, I have started wondering
>lately if there are any physicians out there who are not against long-term
>pharmacological treatment of obesity out of hand. I have run into one
>doctor who, when I asked if there was any way he could help me lose
>weight, only snorted, "you could wire your jaw shut." I guess I should
>have expected that from a jock-sports-medicine orthopedic surgeon, who
>probably sees chiseled bodies all day and winds up with a disgust of mere
>   I would be very grateful if anyone reading this could point me in the
>direction of any doctors who would be willing to help me. I realize there
>are a lot of old-time thinkers who do not see obesity as a disease on the
>same plane with diabetes or hypertension, but I hope more are beginning to
>see the light.
>Thank you for listening,
>Anonymous (I will receive email at the reply address, and I will watch the

    Well, look, the old sympathomimetics like phentermine didn't stop
working just because fenfluramine was taken off the market.  They even
seem to be augmented in fenfluramine fashion (though not as well) by
low doses of certain serotonergic antidepressants like trazodone, if
you (as a male) are willing to take the tiny risk of penile damage from
priapism (an erection that won't go away), which is I think an unlikely
side effect at low doses, if watched for, and if treated immediately
when found.

    The good old FDA has an indication for phentermine for weight loss
in very obese people.  Find a doc, show him the package insert, and
suggest he take the FDA at its word.  Drugs are not the best way to
lose weight (and you'll still need to exercise willpower and your bod
in any case)--- but they beat the heck out of doing nothing.

                                        Steve Harris, M.D.

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Genetics vs. Diet as the Cause of Disease
Date: 27 Nov 1996

In <> (Mark Brandt, Ph.D.) writes:

>For people, such as the your example of 18/19th century sailors above, on a
>somewhat caloric restricted diet, there is often a direct relationship
>between calories expended by exercise and calories required in the diet.
>In other cases, such as an overweight individual attempting to lose
>weight by dieting, increased efficiency in energy usage may compensate
>for decreased caloric intake.

   I'm sorry, but although many people believe this, it is basically
wrong.  The efficiency of energy use in tissue (calories burned per
resting, or working, gram of muscle) varies little between fully fed
and starved persons.  If there is a difference, it is so small (10%)
that many studies in humans have failed to find it.  Such a difference
(even if present) does not begin to account for the decreased energy
use (energy conservation) of starved persons.  What does is not energy
efficiency, but reduced energy expenditure, in the form of less
activity.  Make calorically restricted people continue to work or
exercise, and they lose weight just as thermodynamics says they ought
to.  Those who say they don't, lie.  In controlled circumstances, they
do, without exception.  (If you disagree, please cite the exception).

>Humans evolved under conditions of frequent caloric restriction. As a
>result, 1) if food is plentiful, there is a tendency to eat a lot in
order to store calories for future use, and 2) if food is limited,
there is a tendency to increase efficiency of energy use and to
decrease use by non-essential systems.

   Again, incorrect.  There is a tendency to decrease use, but the
"non-essential system" is the exercising muscle.  Efficiency has
(almost) nothing to do with it.

>Mark Brandt, Ph.D.
>My opinions are my own, but I tend to give them away to anyone who fails to
>flee fast enough.

   Gads, I hope you're not a Ph.D. in nutrition!  If so there's a vast
literature you've missed, starting with the classic Keys studies of
experimentally restricted consciencious objectors in the 1950's, and
going on up to a great many sophisticated studies of liquid dieters in
modern times.

                                        Steve Harris, M.D.

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Medical Step and Fetch It
Date: 29 May 1997

In <>
(WMillerXXX) writes:

>Recently a "definitive" study was published showing overweight as a risk
>factor in stroke.
>Think about it; here we have very basic data which must be available by
>the ton dating back a hundred years. Why does it take so long to come up
>with an analysis of such fundamental information?
>Is it any wonder many of us are suspicious of the motivations and work
>ethic of the medical establishment?
>Bill Miller

    Where did you read about this-- a newspaper?  Newspapers always
treat every medical result as if it were the first instance or
suggestion of the same.  That's because journalists know absolutely
NOTHING about the background of any medical theory, and are too lazy to
look any up.

   Obesity has been associated with stroke for decades-- for as long as
there have been epidemiological studies of it.  My oldest textbook of
medicine (Harrison's 9th edition, 1980) states (p. 1926) "The ultimate
solution of the problem of cerebrovascular diseases lies in more
fundamental fields.  Atherosclerosis and hypertension must be prevented
or alleviated (see Chap. 251 for prophylaxis of atherosclerosis and
Chap. 250 for the treatment of hypertension)."  Obesity is listed as an
independent risk fact for atherosclerosis on page 1161 in Chap. 250.,
and discussed on page 1164.   Calorie restriction as a primary
treatment for hypertension is discussed in chap. 251 (1173) "Some obese
patients will show a significant reduction in blood pressure simply as
a consequence of weight loss."  And so forth.

   Some big medical conspiracy, eh?

                                              Steve Harris, M.D.

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Risks of Diet Drugs
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 1997

In <>
(Health St) writes:

>Lately, while defending the use of diet prescriptions like Fen/Phen,
>physicians have been comparing the risks of using these drugs with the
>risks of allowing obesity to go untreated. If the treatment of choice is
>the one that is the most effective with the least risk, may I ask anyone
>who wishes to reply: Where is the risk in teaching obese people how to
>modify their eating and activity habits to reduce their weight without
>drugs? Isn't that the primary and prefered method of medical treatment?

   Yes, but you make a big assumption here, which is that most obese
people can be "taught" to eat a diet which will make them slim down to
normal weight.  This is total baloney.  The body not only counts
calories in many people, it also knows how much fat it has on board
(fat cells make hormones like leptin which tell the brain they are
there).  Many obese people are just hungry and miserable all the time
when they are normal weight.  There simply is no education which fixes
that.  As well try to educate a person with mountain sickness out of
needing more oxygen.

                                        Steve Harris, M.D.

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Weight Loss Chemicals and Metabolism (Re: effect of body temp on 
Date: 1 Apr 1999 03:21:14 GMT

In <> alex
<> writes:
> wrote:
>> Undoubtedly, a person's body has to burn more calories if it is cold in
>> order to keep internal temperature where it's supposed to be. If a
>> person were to sleep without a blanket on a cool night or go swimming
>> in a moderately cold swimming pool, there would be a greater
>> temperature differential between the person's body and its surroundings
>> than if the person were dressed comfortably. The person's body would
>> then lose more heat through radiation, requiring more calories being
>> burned to replace the lost heat.
>> I would like to know how great an effect a cold environment can have on
>> metabolism. Does anybody know anything about this kind of stuff?
>i found this article on a website. possibly it might be a help for you,
>	alex
>Thermogenesis refers to the generation of body heat in muscle and brown
>tissue (BAT).5

  But since adult humans don't have any significant amounts of
sypathetically enervated thermogenic brown adipose tissue, most of that
literature is useful only if you want to do weight reduction on rats
and other small mammals, or your baby.  There's an awful lot of
silliness in the Pearson/Shaw book that comes from their not
understanding this.

>Smokers gain weight when they quit smoking, up to 60 pounds.

  The average is  maybe 7 to 10 lbs.  Saying "up to 60 pounds" is a lot
like that letter you get in your mail that says you may win "up to a
million dollars" in the Publisher's Clearning House sweepstakes.

> Their final weight averages the same as that of non smokers.

   Who don't weigh anything like 60 pounds more than smokers.

> This suggests nicotine reversibly
>depresses weight, 6 to 7 per cent according to University of Wisconsin
>researcher Richard Keesey.

   Yes, and that's about 7 to 10 pounds, depending on whether you're a
man or woman.

> Nicotine reduces weight by increasing metabolism, not by reducing
>appetite or food intake.

   Correct, but the way it increases metabolism is literally by making
people move and figit more.  It's not like your muscles magically turn
on and burn calories and do nothing.  Instead, you sit on the couch oir
at your desk and act nervous or busy, instead of sit on the couch or
desk like a lump.  Caffeine has much the same effect.  You might just
as well be up taking a walk.  You're not going to lose weight without
exercise.  If you prefer your exercise walking or your exercise looking
all the time like you have attention deficit disorder, or have to pee,
it's up to you.

> A growing number of young women have
>discovered this, and cigarette smoking is gaining popularity as a
>weight control measure.

   Dumb.  Dumb squared.  Cigarettes and coffee make people lose merely
by turning into chronic squirmers.  How attractive is that, anyway?  To
lose weight you have counter the decreased metabolism of calorie
restriction, by MOVING your muscles.  You have to do this one way or
the other.  Why not move in a way that increases your strength,
endurance, coordination, and improves your body contours?  And doesn't
wreck your lungs and arteries?  Some diet chemicals are useful as
appetite suppressants.  Caffeine and nicotene aren't really among them.
Anybody who offers you a pill to "increase your metabolism" is either
lying or giving you a squirm pill.  An honest appetite reduction pill
is another matter.  But if you eat less, you still have the problem
that nothing happens, because your body will move less to compensate.
You simply have to get off you lard laden posterior in any case.  No
matter what pills you take or what you eat.

>Pearson and Shaw recommend nicotinic acid to increase thermogenesis
>and as a recreational drug.

   With absolutely no basis for the first claim in humans (nicotinic
acid was named because it's a pyrolysis product of nicotene, but it has
none of the same biological effects).  And as for the second claim: if
you find the feeling of itching and being mildly sunburned
recreational, I suppose there are different strokes for different
folks.  Perhaps the leather-clad Pearson and Shaw are into S &  M,
which would certainly explain their odd repetition of the idea that
feeling like you have total body sunburn enhances your orgasms.

   Sure, put a palm tree in your living room, get a CD of beach sounds,
some sand, a big lamp and opaque tanning glasses, and take nicotinic
acid until you feel like you're on fire and your head is going explode.
Voila.  A Hawaiian vacation where you forgot the sunscreen.  But daily
fast-walking, for me, is a lot less miserable.

                                               Steve Harris, M.D.

From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: Calories and Kilojules
Date: 30 Apr 2005 19:09:06 -0700
Message-ID: <>

Yes. Each pound of lost body weight (after the first 5 lbs which is
mostly starch and water) turns out to be about 2000 Calories.

From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: Calories and Kilojules
Date: 2 May 2005 09:43:09 -0700
Message-ID: <>

Alas, though, a pound of lost body weight in a dieter is NOT a pound of
chemically pure fat. Read what I wrote.


From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: Weight gain without eating
Date: 15 Aug 2005 19:54:51 -0700
Message-ID: <>

Max C. wrote:
> As Robert said, it *could* be pituitary.  Could you give us an example
> of a typical day's meals?  There are SO manything reasons this could be
> happening.  It could be what she eats, emotional, hormonal... many
> things.  It's best to start with the obvious and work your way down.
> Max.


Yeah, well, the most obvious possibility of all, is that she's eating a
lot of stuff that she forgets and you don't see, you dodo.

Fat people get thin in locked metabolic wards. Breatharians (google it)
are mythical.


From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: Weight gain without eating
Date: 16 Aug 2005 14:01:31 -0700
Message-ID: <>

Max C. wrote:

> You assume that because she's overweight that she eats too much.  How
> very scientific of you.

Actually, it is. For humans, at least.

There are obese mice which manage to stay obese during calorie
restriction (though even they are smaller), but that's a special
circumstance involving a metabolic defect. Mice burn 6/7ths of their
energy just staying warm, whereas in humans it's less than half. If you
interrupt the special heat-generation mechanism in mice, they can use
all those calories to get fat (so long as you don't put them in the
cold, which kills them).

No such mechanism is known in human adults, however. We keep warm just
from intermediate metabolism, and have to generate extra heat (by
shivering) only in extreme conditions. So the rodent model of fatness
without excess calorie consumption doesn't apply to us.

In locked metabolic wards, nobody of normal stature who is mobile stays
fat on 1200 kcal a day.


From: Steve Harris <>
Newsgroups: alt.animals.ethics.vegetarian,talk.environment,,
Subject: Re: Fw: Got milk? You've got problems
Date: 17 Aug 2005 13:59:19 -0700
Message-ID: <>

Ricthy wrote:
> What utter rot.  If you are truly hungry and are not shovelling refuse
> from the junk food kingdom down your throat every day your body
> will yearn for certain foods at certain times.  That perfectly balances
> your nutritional needs.  You don't need a laboratory to define your
> nutritional needs.  You need hunger and a pure body.


With a PUUUURE body being the key. Which you need to explain all those
fat, malnurished people. You see, they aren't puuuure. They have sinned
the junk food sin. The God of the stomach no longer talks to them,
because of their nutritional iniquity. Or the Satan of the stomach
talks to them instead, as apparently happens to me.

> Even children will admit that after eating a vegan meal and a typical
> high fat meal they feel better after the vegan meal.

Sure, makes sense. Which is why children want to go to MacDonald's all
the time. They actually *enjoy* that horrid feeling they get after
eating fast-food. Yes, they do. Really. That is why there are so many
places selling fast junk food, because it makes everybody feel like
crap, and they *like* that feeling. Keeps them coming back. Yeppers.

>  Vegans know
> 100 times more about their health than Joe Public. So
> they are better educated obviously, much better read on their subject, and
> above all - they used to eat the slop you shovel down your throat.  But
> they chosen different options.  Do you think its easier being Vegan?  It
> requires discipline and perseverence.

It takes "discipline and perserverence" to eat veggie food that makes
you feel great? Hmmmm. Methinks that Joe Public doesn't get the same
feeling from eating meat that you do. Business figures don't lie.

Now I'm going to be honest. Here's how *I* feel after a bacon double
cheeseburger. Or barbecued ribs. Or filet mignon. Provided I don't
over-eat to discomfort: I feel fantastic. My stomach says: "Uummmm. You
kill mastodon. You mighty hunter. Many women come to you soon. You
survive winter."

Whereas, after a big correctly diverse vegan salad at Soup Plantation,
my stomach says:

"Uggh. You dig roots to survive. You shitty hunter. Women all go away.
They over there, with Mastodon-Killer, at barbecue. You cold tonight.
You probably end up as winter-kill yourself this year, if you not
clean-up act."

Of course, I don't *always* eat the bacon cheeseburger, because I don't
want to gain 50 pounds. But anybody who tells you that you that in
America you don't usually have to choose between looking great and
feeling so-so, OR feeling great but looking so-so, is probably selling
something. Because that IS the usual choice. Yes, you can look and feel
great both, if you exercise enough. But then you have to exercise a LOT
:(.  Hey, there are no easy solutions.

Maybe moving to France or Italy and giving up your refrigerator?  But
then you'd have to live in France or Italy...


From: "Steve Harris" <>
Subject: Re: Does fitness affect metabolic "efficiency"?
Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2003 16:39:44 -0700
Message-ID: <bghi41$b7u$>

Your friend is right. You're thinking of two separate
processes. Everybody with a good working gut has about the
same efficiency in converting food calories to HEAT, which
is what you're talking about in keeping warm, and also what
you're talking about in basal metabolic rate. But that's not
the same as the efficiency in converting food calories to
mechanical WORK, when you do work. That runs 20% to 30%
approximately, and depends a good deal on on

"Tim Richardson" <> wrote in message
> I have a debate with a friend. He says that a fit person has increased
> metabolic efficiency; that is, if a fit person lifts a 10kg weight 3
> metres off the ground ten times, he will use less energy than if an
> unfit person does it, everything else being the same. Or to be more
> practical, if a fit person and an unfit person, of identical sex,
> weight, height, age and lean body mass, run a marathon over the same
> distance in the same time, the fit person will use less energy. I have
> seen some formulas for metabolic rate, and the variables never include a
> measure for fitness. Since all humans basically have the same core blood
> temperature, I suppose that each gram of muscle has basically the same
> efficiency at converting fuel in the blood to work done (since I suppose
> the chemical reactions behind this at pretty much the same in all of us
> and not really alterable by fitness level).
> My friend doesn't accept this argument, on the grounds of common sense.
> A fit person must be more efficient, how else can a fit person run a
> marathon more easily than an unfit person? He is very fit (does
> triathalons) and I am just of average fitness, so our personal
> experiences are very different.
> Does anyone know the answer?

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