Is It Possible To Really Lose Weight In Just A Day Or Two? More Importantly, Is It Safe?
Hey Fitness Nerd,
I’m leaving on Monday morning for a vacation to the Bahamas. I’ve been working out like a fiend since the end of December, lots of cardio and I’ve really cut back how much I’m eating. I’ve managed to lose a fair amount of weight so far. About 12 lbs. The problem is that I really need to lose another five to get into the shape I want for the beach. I have less than four days left, how can I lose some more weight in just another day or two? I’m desperate and time is running out on me. — Jenna (Dallas, Texas.)
Jenna, you’re probably not going to like my answer, but I’m going to shoot straight with you: You can lose some additional weight a day or two before your vacation, but more than likely, you’ll put it back on the first day in the Bahamas.
Because at this point, any scale weight you lose through additional exercise or restriction of food will probably be the result of lost water and less food in your digestive tract, and not real fat loss. Body fat percentage and not scale weight is always your best gauge of progress and body composition. Losing weight per se shouldn’t be your focus.
Remember, you lose fat over weeks — not days — regardless of what the fad and crash diet marketers say. And losing body fat is really what makes for a great looking physique at the beach — not what some numbers on a bathroom scale say.
Fast Weight Loss Is An Illusion
I’m not naive enough to believe that there aren’t crash diet techniques (which are very popular among anorexics, by the way) or pills out there that could cause you to drop another five pounds of scale weight in the next day or two.
But remember, that fast weight loss is an illusion. And it’s a very short-lived one at that.
These types of crash diets result in weight loss because they cause you to lose water or cut your food intake back to the point that you lose several pounds simply because you don’t have the weight associated with food running through your digestive system. Eat a meal, or drink some fluids and you’ll watch the scale weight bounce back up again within hours.
Think of it this way: Maybe you lost three or four pounds for the plane ride — but no one sees you in a bikini in coach (or First-Class, for that matter.) Hit the ground, have a couple of cocktails and a bucket of shrimp and you’ll be right back to the scale weight you are today. And that’s not going to do anything for your beach body. Trust me on this one.
Quick Weight Loss Can Be Dangerous
And before you think about just starving yourself through your vacation, I want you to consider something else: Extreme, rapid weight-loss can be dangerous.
Radically-restricting your food, taking diet pills, using chemical laxatives, or fasting can cause serious electrolyte disruptions, which can lead to a host of acute health problems, including sudden cardiac arrest.
Fasting can also result in abnormal blood sugar levels and hypoglycemia, a condition when your blood sugar levels drop too low from a lack of carbohydrates. This can make you dizzy, disoriented, foggy-headed and ultimately, blow your vacation or put you in a Banana Republic hospital.
Finally, crash dieting is counter-productive because the extreme calorie deficits that these diets place you in cause your body to start feeding on its own lean tissue for energy.
The result is that you lose muscle, and end up flabbier than when you started. Even worse, when you lose muscle, you lose tissue that consumes calories even at rest. So you could be actually setting yourself back by crash dieting.
Enjoy Yourself & Quit Worrying About The Weight
My advice would be to quit focusing on the weight you might lose in the next day or two, and instead focus on what you’ve accomplished over the last 30 days.
I do have some concerns that you focused so much on cardio and calorie-restriction, but I’ll trust that you know better and have read all of the reasons why you need to eat and exercise to build muscle and burn fat, and not just do endless bouts of cardio in an effort to lose scale weight.
Instead of fretting over those last couple of pounds, enjoy your vacation and try to find some ways to keep healthy and fit while you’re there. For example:
Try a relaxing spa
Go running on the beach
Bike around the island
Do plenty of walking
Take a swim (or even better lots of them)/snorkel/scuba dive
Use the hotel fitness facility to get in a light workout in the morning
Eat plenty of fresh fish and fruit (there will be a lot of it in the islands)
Drink lots of water
Above all, just relax, enjoy life and come back healthier, happier and charged up.
When get back, if you still want to lose a few more pounds of fat the right way, you can try these healthier, longer-term tactics for breaking a weight loss plateau. Until then, just have fun on your vacation.
If you take this approach, verses stressing yourself out over numbers on a scale, you might actually find yourself coming back from your vacation in much better shape than you left.
And isn’t that the whole point?
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