A few years back, a buddy of mine on the Dartmouth crew team was faced with a seemingly impossible challenge: he needed to drop 25 pounds in a month. Although he was strong as an ox, after a few months of eating indiscriminately during the offseason, his weight had slowly crept up. But now it came down to this: “lose 25 pounds in less than 30 days or you are off the team.”
Now, it should be said that many bodybuilders, wrestlers, and even fitness models can drop an insane amount of weight by using performance enhancing drugs, diuretics, or severe water restriction. It “works,” but it’s not particularly good for you, fair, or sustainable.
Sure, the weight would come off, but his soul, good conscience, and morals would be in jeopardy. He wasn’t interested in that. An extreme starvation diet could potentially help his weight come down, but he would risk strength loss as his body catabolized his hard-earned muscle to keep his organs humming. All of these options were unacceptable.
But dripping in ingenuity, my friend dug deep into old wives’ tales and ghost stories of the crew team and beyond to find a simple fix. After all, rowers had faced the same problem for decades. He finally happened upon a long-retired crew coach who claimed to have the answer to his prayers.
The coach said that this trick:
- Does not involve any drugs/herbs/or magic potions
- Requires absolutely no special foods
- Is mind-numbingly simple
- Requires little deprivation but considerable self-control
So how do you shave off 25 pounds in a month in a way that’s fair, healthy, and legal?
Drink water. Only water.
No fruit juice, soda, diet soda, coffee, beer, sports drinks, energy drinks or anything else. Nothing but pure water for a month.
My friend was dubious, but he decided to grit his teeth and give it a shot. He started drinking a glass of cool, fresh water every morning and continued to drink plenty throughout the day. He still made appearances at parties and get-togethers, where he politely and confidently sipped his water bottle, staying delightfully clear-headed while others drooled all over themselves in a drunken stupor.
So did it work?
Well, no, my friend did not lose 20 pounds in a month.
He lost 25 pounds. And he went from pudgy to ripped.
He ate exactly the same foods, drank more water, and ignored all of the mysterious-colored liquids on the convenience-store shelves and stopped doing kegstands. He also noticed that he wasn’t any hungrier, since liquid calories are rarely satisfying or filling.
Why did it work?
My friend estimated that he previously was unwittingly consuming about 800-1000 liquid calories/day. That’s the equivalent of quite a few 100-calorie packs to suddenly not be eating. Anyone cutting that amount calories (while maintaining strength training and eating plenty of protein to avoid losing muscle) would see significant short-term fat loss. I’m sure his training program also accelerated his results, but he was adamant about the fact that without eliminating liquid calories he never would have been able to make weight.
Here is what I love about this trick.
It’s so simple that it’s almost absurd. But it is one that absolutely ANYONE can do and it only requires one ingredient (water) and a hint of self-control. In the days before ab belts, fat blasting pills, stomach stapling, and magic potions, there was a leaning toward achieving seemingly impossible goals with confident and well-polished willpower and little else. We could all do with a bit more of that.
Too many people these days are looking for a silver bullet in all of the wrong places. How many people want to lose 25 pounds in a month? Could drinking only water work? Sure, it would certainly help. It’s so simple it’s stupid. But how many people actually do it? Would you?
So many people spend unconscionable amounts of money and time scouring the earth for a pill that will allow them to keep eating terrible food, ignore physical activity, make no lifestyle changes, all while torching fat off of their bodies. And you know what? It doesn’t exist, and I hope it never does.
The fact that a magical fat-burning pill doesn’t exist is a blessing in disguise: if it existed (and actually worked), then many people would resign themselves to lives of expensive over-medication. And they would never learn anything except to open their wallets and that they required a pill to be lean and “happy.”
Want to Burn fat? Drink Water.
It’s incredible how easy it is to take in hundreds of extra, unneeded, empty, and unfulfilling calories in the many drinks you consume over the course of the day. So many people monitor food labels like hawks, but completely ignore any liquid calories they consume (which are often considerable).
Our ancestors had nearly no other options but drinking water. There were no slurpees, caramel macchiatos, or double-chocolate stouts. In a sense, we are built to drink nothing but water.
Now I’m not advocating that you need to stop drinking anything but water (but you could certainly try if you want an exercise in self-control and some serious, quick results). Liquids calories are not filling, are devoid of fiber, and usually lack natural nutrients (with the exception of my much-loved green smoothie).
Here are the worst offenders that you should cut out first:
- Sugary alcoholic drinks (e.g., margaritas, rum and coke, etc.)
- Fruit juice (even 100% juice)
- Meal-replacement drinks
- Energy Drinks
- Diet soda (studies have shown that diet soda is even more fattening than regular soda)
- Flavored Milk
- Sugary drive-thru drinks (the famed caramel cappuccino)
- Sugar in coffee or tea
- Powdered drink mixes
- Sports drinks
When you want to spice up your water, throw in some citrus or mint. You can also drink as much tea or coffee as you’d like. Want a party in your mouth? Add some cinnamon, nutmeg, herbs and such. Red wine from time to time also seems to have little effect on weight gain, and in fact has antioxidants and reservatrol that have been shown to improve health and assist weight loss.
So cheers. Drink up, my friends.
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