I have had an alarming number of emails that asked similar questions about quick weight loss through diets, diet pills, or profuse sweating. Here is one email question that I would like to discuss in order for others to understand the facts and the myths of healthy weight loss.
"I was looking at your website on how to lose weight. I have been running with a sauna suit to lose weight and want to lose about 20 pounds in 2 weeks. Is that even possible?"
First, a healthy amount of weight loss is 2-3 lbs a week. Some health professionals lean more towards 1-2 lbs a week as a healthy amount of sustainable weight loss. So no, 10 lbs a week is not possible to do it in a healthy manner. Sure you could do it, but it is all water weight. I remember at SEAL training, during a six-mile ocean swim in December, most of my class lost 10-12 lbs in less than four hours. But we gained it all back as soon as we started eating and re-hydrating (drinking).
The remaining focus of this article are the myths of weight loss and a discussion on how to lose weight, keep it off, and get healthier at the same time.
For decades, many people have used sweat suits, garbage bags or saunas in order to lose weight quickly. You will lose weight in the form of sweat, which is water and electrolytes, but you will gain it back as soon as you eat again or drink water. This myth seems to have spread through the wrestling, boxing, and other sports gyms where guys need to lose a few pounds in order to make a weight class. But sweating excessively has no useful purpose in health weight loss. The dangers of sweating to lose weight are severe -- they include overheating (heatstroke), extreme loss of electrolytes (kidney damage/death), and other cardiovascular related emergencies.
The Diet Pill
The only way to lose weight is to burn fat by reducing caloric intake, exercising more, or a combination of both moderate eating and exercise. There is no pill that can help you burn fat or increase your metabolism while sitting on the couch eating chips and soda. Sure, there are pills that can reduce your appetite, but if you want a healthier version of a natural hunger suppressant, just drink more water - try 3 to 4 quarts a day.
In fact, your body needs water in order to burn fat. Sweat too much water out and your body will first have to make adjustments for its dehydration by retaining water and fat.
Fad diets are popular because they promise rapid weight loss. However, fad diets or crash diets do not allow the body to burn fat calories as you would think, they actually produce a net loss of lean muscle mass, water, and stored energy. As a result, most people on such diets become tired and have a hard time finding the energy they need to exercise.
You have to burn calories through cardiovascular activity such as walking, running, biking, swimming or even household chores. Lifting weights or doing calisthenics burns calories and spikes your metabolism to build lean muscle and stronger bones. You may not see a weight loss immediately, but you will see inches lost, because muscles takes up less space than fat and weigh more. But, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest.
Try my free "45 Day Beginner Plan" (PDF) to get started on weight loss. This will help you with ideas on how to eat moderately and burn calories without having to take pills, sit in a sauna or starve yourself.
Some recommended websites are Diet And Nutrition from the American Heart Association. The National Institutes of Health, the Heart Diseases Prevention Page and the Nutrition Page are loaded with interesting information about health and fitness.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.