Want to Lose Weight? Change Your Altitude.

CVAC technology currently used in two Chicago-area clinics

By Nesita Kwan and Bob Ray
|  Thursday, May 6, 2010  |  Updated 9:26 AM CDT
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Lose weight by sitting down?  Some Chicagoans put technology used by the <a title=U.S. military and some elite athletes to the test." />

Lose weight by sitting down? Some Chicagoans put technology used by the U.S. military and some elite athletes to the test.

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Get in. Sit down. Lose weight.

A high-tech pod that simulates the thinner air found at mountain tops might be the secret to losing some flab.

The technology is called Cyclic Variations in Altitude Conditioning, or CVAC, and its designers say it trains your body to burn calories more efficiently by increasing the number of oxygen-rich red blood cells in your body.

Once inside the dome-covered pod, the atmosphere inside is slowly thinned to increasingly high levels of altitude, and then cycled back to ground level, again and again. Users say they feel a little cooling, and perhaps some ear popping, but nothing more.

Two preliminary studies indicate that high altitude training does increase the red blood cell count, and that those who live on mountains tend to lose excess weight. But there is no study yet that directly ties the CVAC technology to clinical weight loss.

Still, several clients at using the new machines in the Chicago area say they've lost up to eight pounds in four weeks, and feel like they’ve got a lot more energy for exercise or work.

The technology is also being tried on elite athletes and on soldiers in the U.S. military to see if it makes them faster and stronger.

Weight loss patients in the Chicago area are using the machines several times a week. The company's medical director says it’s too early to tell if they’d have to continue using CVAC to maintain a lower weight.

The CVAC machines are being used for weight loss at two Complete Clinics locations in Chicago's suburbs. The cost is up to $55 a session.

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