The Most Extreme Weight Loss Methods

Spending a Week at 8,700 feet Altitude

Psst – wanna lose weight while eating all you want and doing no exercise? No, it’s not a spammy Internet ad – it’s real science! All you have to do is live a while at high altitude.

Overweight, sedentary people who spent a week at an elevation of 8,700 feet lost weight while eating as much as they wanted and doing no exercise. A month after they came back down, they had kept two-thirds of those pounds off.

The scientists ferried 20 overweight, middle-aged men by train and cable car to a research station perched 1,000 feet below the peak of Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze. During the week-long stay, the men could eat and drink as much as they liked and were forbidden from any exercise other than leisurely strolls.

The team measured the men’s weight, metabolic rate, levels of hunger and satiety hormones before, during, and after their mountain retreat After a week up high, the subjects lost an average of 3 pounds. A month later, they were still 2 pounds lighter. The scientists’ data showed this was likely because they ate about 730 calories less at high altitudes than they did at normal elevations.

They may have felt less hungry, in part, because levels of leptin, the satiety hormone, surged during the stay, while grehlin, the hunger hormone, remained unchanged. Their metabolic rate also spiked, meaning they burned more calories than they usually did.

A high-altitude weight loss strategy could be viable, though studies have shown peoples’ appetites bounce back after about six months at high elevation, Leissner said. “If you could do intermittent periods for one week, then go down, and then go back up, this might actually be helpful.”