Lose 15 Pounds in 15 Days!
(Can you really lose weight that fast?)
Most experts recommend losing no more than two pounds per week. If you're fairly heavy, however, you may be able to shed pounds at twice that rate for perhaps a month. To do this safely, see a doctor, take a multivitamin, and use a tool such as DietPower to monitor your nutrients. This article explains, with award-winning clarity and humor, what happens if you try rapid weight loss over a longer period.
By Terry Dunkle, DietPower founder and chairman
For a middle-aged man, I'm in pretty good shape. I'm still considerably overweight, however, and lately I've been getting emails with headlines like these:
- Melt Off 5-10 Pounds in 7 Days!
- Lose 10 Lbs the First Week!
You've probably gotten emails like this, too.
And they bring up an interesting question:
Can a person lose weight that fast?
In other words, if you must, can you get down to a size six for your wedding?
Can you shed five pounds before your "60 Minutes" interview?
Let's say we want to drop 15 pounds in 15 days. Is this doable?
I'm glad I asked that question.
To lose weight, you need to reduce one or more of your body's three main ingredients:
Let's start by considering the flesh and bone.
You can easily get rid of 15 pounds by cutting off an arm. The average arm weighs about that much, if you take it off at the shoulder.
This is convenient, too, because the arm you'll want to spare also happens to be the better one for holding the saw.
I'm right-handed, for example, so I would naturally want to remove my left arm, which I don't use much anyway, except for shaking hands with Bob Dole.
So, yes, you can lose 15 pounds in 15 days—in fact, you can lose 15 pounds in a minute if you have a sharp Homelite and a bottle of Wild Turkey.
Some people, however, will prefer the second method: losing water. (I'm not going to say which is better. I don't want to take sides here.)
The average person sweats, breathes, and pees away about 80 ounces of water a day. This means that eating dry food and shunning all drinks
should remove five pounds per day. Easy, huh?
Not easy. Unfortunately, your body desperately wants to replace that water, to keep your blood from getting too salty and short-circuiting
the nerve signals that run your brain and muscles. This can rapidly lead to confusion, seizures, coma....
In other words, eschewing liquids may get you the 15-pound loss in only five days—but you'll probably end up wearing that size 6 in your coffin.
So now we're down to the third weight-loss method: burning fat. And this is where it gets really interesting.
Fat in your body is like gasoline in a car. It stores the energy you need for walking, running, yelling at telemarketers, opening childproof bottle caps,
and all the other necessities of life. (Including thinking. Your head uses one-quarter of your total energy expenditure, which may be why Thomas Edison said,
"The chief function of your body is to carry your brain around.")
As a storage medium, fat is wonderfully efficient. A pound of body weight contains 3500 calories—almost as much as a pound of gasoline. This is good, because otherwise your body would have to convert excess calories into glycogen, a kind of carbohydrate stored in the liver. To equal the storage capacity of 50 pounds of fat (the amount I'm carrying in my body right now), my glycogen store would have to weigh 400 pounds—and I would have to weigh 550. (I would also have a huge liver.)
Because fat is so efficient, however, you need to expend a lot of energy to get rid of a pound of it. A 200-some pounder like me can operate on 2600 calories a day. Since a pound of body weight is 3500 calories, this means I can't lose a pound a day unless I eat nothing and burn off 900 calories in exercise every day. (For me, that's a five-mile run.) If you can do this for ten days straight, you're a better (and thinner) person than I.
If you weigh 400 pounds, however, your energy needs are proportionately higher. You could lose a pound a day by simply eating what I eat instead of what you eat. But you'd feel as famished as I do when I eat nothing. That's because your body has an amazingly sophisticated system designed to "correct" sudden weight loss by making you feel ravenously hungry. The only way to fool this system is by losing weight slowly.
Wait a minute, you say. Can't I take a pill or eat something to rev up my metabolism so I burn calories faster?
In fact, this is what most of those emails promise. (They usually sell "fat burners," "metabolic boosters, or "thermogenics.") But the truth is, even a dangerous level of amphetamines
(probably the most powerful metabolic booster available) will increase your burn rate by only 20 percent.
You can do better than that by taking a long walk every day.
The only real solution, then, is cutting off an arm. And so far, none of these emails has offered to sell me a chainsaw.
More on this subject later. Right now it's time for me to practice the fourth method of quick weight loss, which I forgot to mention.
It works instantly, it's perfectly safe, it's relatively effective, and it costs absolutely nothing. It's called Sucking in Your Gut.
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