Losing weight at high altitudes isn't just a figment of my imagination. Several of the locals I have chatted with have mentioned that it is easy to lose weight up here in Cuenca. Theories have ranged from the organic nature of the local food to the absence of weaknesses like McDonald's and Dairy Queen.
However, researchers in Germany have now proven that a metabolism bump occurs when you spend time at high altitudes. This propels weight loss, and the phenomenon is also coupled with a natural decrease in appetites at high altitudes caused by changes in your leptin levels (leptin controls the hunger impulse).
To follow up, the researchers also noted that the subjects in their study were more active when they returned to their natural elevation. This is attributed to the altitude training effect, which is that when you hit a lower elevation, it's easier for your body to function, so you feel more fit and can be more active with ease.
Basically, it means that spending 9 weeks up in Cuenca is the best post-holiday diet ever. I'm eating lots of great food, but my body is burning through the calories faster. I've noticed a few pounds gone from my belly and arms, although my writers cushion is stubbornly retaining its shape. Still, it is nice to know that there are scientifically proven benefits to spending time here!