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Would you fill a plastic bag with a pound of ground fat and stick it in your pantyhose "right on your butt?"
The purpose of this exercise, advocated by the Silver Sage diet-aid folks of Salt Lake City, is to emphasize the meaning of excess body fat. Silver Sage, of course, has what they claim is an antidote. Its called LipoPeptide-y, or LPY, a morning-after pill for those who fall off the diet wagon. The compound is made in Japan and distributed exclusively by Silver Sage. Found at the Sprout House in Grosse Pointe Park, or, any day now, at General Nutrition Center stores, LPY comes in a bright red "1,000 Calorie Emergency Pack."
When temptation beckons, explains psychopharmacologist Daniel Mowrey (who brought LPY to Silver Sage), many dieters give in and pig out. Usually, despair sets in, followed by more eating for consolation. But a one-pill emergency dose of LPY will prevent 100 naughty calories from converting to body fat.
Dr. David Klurfeld, chair of the department of nutrition and food science at Wayne State University, had not heard of LPY before my phone call. His reaction: "Oh, you eat a bottle of pills and you turn into negative calories?"
How well does it work? Theres no way for individuals to test it reliably, but Silver Sage will send you a baffling yet glossy research summary. I read a portion to Klurfeld: LPY is an "amalgam of bioactive oligopeptides prepared from food grade proteins by means of enzymatic hydrolysis."
"Theyre essentially selling you partially hydrolyzed proteins, which is what your body does in digestion, break food down into peptides and amino acids," Klurfeld translated. "But I dont know that any of them have been shown to cause weight loss."
I asked Mowrey why most of the studies cited in the summarys endnotes were unpublished.
He said, "Thats how they do it in Japan: Get the patent first, publish later."
Klurfeld said this is the American way as well. But reputable companies dont start selling and making claims until studies have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
"You wont see me standing in line with my $50," said Klurfeld.
Even if LPY works as claimed, Silver Sage agrees it cant be a primary weight-loss tool, because of the cost. The Sprout House charges $20.09, tax included, for 10 pills. Thats $2.01 per 100 calories burned a penance of roughly $12.06 for a 614-calorie Whopper or $6.03 for a 280-calorie Milky Way.
Thus Mowrey cautions that LPY is a diet adjunct, except for the exceedingly rich.
"Anything that sounds too good to be true probably isnt," says Klurfeld. "Thats certainly the history of all products claimed to produce miracles for weight control. All legitimate nutritionists will conclude a talk on weight control by saying there are two ways to lose weight: Eating less and moving more. And none of us want to do either one. Thats why people are willing to believe the easy way." Jane Slaughter
Train food beats airplane food, especially on the Grand Traverse Dinner Trains fall color tour. Head up north to the Traverse City Railway station to catch a $75 train ride and a feast of Michigan specialties. Call 231-933-3768 for reservations. Like Guinness but want something lighter? Say "cheers" for Caffreys Irish Ale, now available in cans and now available in America. Is that a draught or is it just getting cooler outside?