Please help me determine whether I can, in a healthy manner, temporarily reduce my percentage body fat or water weight for a big event.
July 23, 2007 5:48 AM   Subscribe

Please help me determine whether I can, in a healthy manner, temporarily reduce my percentage body fat or water weight for a big event.

Just like some brides on their wedding day or body builders on competition day, I have an event for which I'd like to to fit into that perfect outfit coming up soon.

I've already lost 56 lbs, reduced my percentage body fat from twenty five plus percent to fifteen percent, and am very happy with the results. These days I burn a minimum of 700 calories six out of every seven days. I've made my health and fitness my top priorities in my life and the results have been incredibly positive. I am *not* looking to lose weight quickly or to make any long term changes, but I am under the, perhaps mistaken, impression that there are certain, reasonably healthy, short term techniques people use to temporarily lower their percentage body fat or water weight to achieve that special look for that certain occasion. Of course, I may be wrong and am open to that being the case.

What techniques and resources would you suggest I look into? The following have been suggested to me:
  • Reducing my overall sodium intake to near zero for several days before hand, since sodium encourages the retention of water weight.
  • Increasing overall caffeine intake by drinking teas or coffee because caffeine is a diuretic. (N.B. I do not intake any significant quantities of caffeine and am unlikely to do so under any circumstances for personal reasons.)
  • Fasting for some period of days before hand or switching my caloric intake over to natural, organic juices.
Given that I burn a relatively high number of calories in addition to my basal metabolic rate, how would your suggestion affect my regular work out routine?

As a bit of a postscript, I have no intention of doing this long term. I am extremely happy with the results of the changes in my life and fitness. I am not into fad diets or exercise trends. I am am desperately trying to change my life, not just my weight or appearance. I simply want to look extra special for an event, but will not attempt anything that has a significant risk of health problems.
posted by sequential to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
you could just drop weight like fighters do before weigh in.

get in a tracksuit and sit in the sauna. anything that will cause you to sweat a LOT. can prob drop 10lbs but you will be VERY weak as you will be incredibly dehydrated.

depends how long you want the effect to last for the "event"
posted by moochoo at 6:06 AM on July 23, 2007

i just checked your profile and noted you are male. around 15% BF your abs should be starting to show through.

so if you are wanting to look cut for this event, sweating the weight out will give you that desired look.
posted by moochoo at 6:11 AM on July 23, 2007

A bodybuilder in a competition is wearing nothing but bikini bottoms. A bride might be wearing a backless, strapless, form-fitting dress. What is it you are wearing that you think people are going to be able to tell that you lost a few pounds of water weight? I think you might be best served by the quickest way to lose 5 pounds: stand up straight.
If you do try to do any sort of fast to drop weight, avoid any alcoholic beverages at the event because you will get drunk and sick very fast.
posted by ch1x0r at 6:19 AM on July 23, 2007

I did a trial run of the Hollywood diet (2 days of fasting, drinking nothing but water and juice) a couple of weeks before my wedding. The number on the scale dropped the promised percentage, but I didn't really look any different. My wedding dress (not particularly form-fitting) still fit the same. And I was cranky and miserable. I decided not to do it for the actual wedding and I'm very glad I made that decision.

I really think ch1x0r has it - unless you're attending this event in a Speedo, shedding water weight isn't going to make a noticeable difference and you'll feel like crap. Instead, strut in there with your head high because you've overhauled your live - a huge accomplishment - and your confidence (and yes, good posture) will make the impact you're looking for.

Oh, and another tip: if you haven't already, get the clothes you plain to wear tailored so they fit well. That makes a huge difference. If they don't fit yet and it's by a small enough margin that losing some water weight would make them fit, a tailor can usually let out the appropriate seams and it'll look like you lost the weight (but without any of the dehydration migraines!).
posted by AV at 6:54 AM on July 23, 2007

er, that's plan, the clothes you plan to wear...
posted by AV at 6:57 AM on July 23, 2007

How about topping it all off with one of those one-piece elastic abdominal girdle thingies? There are high waisted extreme control panty hose, if you want to tighten up your butt.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:07 AM on July 23, 2007

I am not a medical doctor, but I have had to cut weight for competitions. So I am not responsible for any adverse health effects, etc., etc. Cutting water weight is tough on the system.

* Drink a lot of water the week before the event. The day before the event, do not drink water. Do not have breakfast. After weigh in (or the event), go to town. Coaches tell me it will be 48 hours before you fully recover from dehydration.

* Eat lots of protein, low on the carbs. People tell me stored glycogen in the muscles bind water, making you 'heavier' because of water weight. This means your muscular endurance will suffer. I never bothered to check up on the biology of this, but I do know that when I start eating a high protein diet, I drop 5 pounds (mostly water) overnight.

Frankly, unless you think you're going to be walking around shirtless, it is probably not going to make a huge difference in how you look. Depending on what kind of outfit you're going to be aiming for, you might seek a tailor.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:57 AM on July 23, 2007

Oh yeah, and if you're really desperate, you can carry a cup around and spit into it. That is good for about three pounds of water weight. It is also kind of disgusting. (Wrestlers do it all the time.)
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:58 AM on July 23, 2007

To help you stand up straight (great suggestion!), take as many yoga classes as you can fit in between now and said event. I recommend ashtanga yoga or bikram, as it will help immensely with posture and also you will do a lot of sweating.
Although I'm not lactose intolerant, eating dairy makes my abdomen bloat-out a little. When I want my tummy to look super-flat for something, I avoid eating dairy for the week beforehand. I also recommend extra sit-ups this week.
The best thing you can do is get the right outfit in the right colors. You can research this online a bit, but wearing black will always drop a few pounds for ya. Congrats on getting back in shape!
P.S. I don't believe the caffeine suggestion will work.
posted by Eringatang at 9:18 AM on July 23, 2007

You should be able to get pills for water retention from the pharmacy. They basically make you pee out all your excess water.

I remember from my brother's wrestling days that he would starve himself to make weight, but after weigh in, he would eat spoonfuls of honey for a quick boost of energy without being too full for the match.

But really, a girdle and having your garment altered is really the best bet.
posted by happyturtle at 9:48 AM on July 23, 2007

People who know you? They're in awe of the 56 pounds you lost.

People who don't? Well, the traditional method was to have a tailor (or at least a good personal shopper) help you dress right. Without knowing exactly what you're trying to do, well, I can't imagine what exactly would make you look better than having lost 56 pounds already.
posted by dhartung at 11:22 AM on July 23, 2007

In the book The 4-Hour Work Week, the author brags of doing just what you're hoping to do- he lost a bunch of weight for an athletic weigh-in, and then gained it all back for the match. The book itself doesn't say how he did it, but I think his methods are out there somewhere (for a price).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:35 PM on July 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 7 Days to Ultimate Leanness is pretty much exactly what you are looking for: losing that extra water weight and really making things pop for an event.
posted by Loto at 12:53 PM on July 23, 2007

Spanx! Your body won't actually change; then again, you'll have them around for other occasions.
posted by RobotHeart at 1:40 PM on July 23, 2007

Response by poster: In light of my gender and the event, the girdle comments are hysterical. I understand that men can and do wear girdles, but the fact is my event involves me wearing little more than a Speedo.
posted by sequential at 3:22 PM on July 23, 2007

Response by poster: For what it's worth, Loto answered my question most directly, but being a nutrition neophyte, I am not willing to undertake such a program without running it by a nutritionist first. In the mean time, I'll probably:

1) Reduce my carb intake
2) Increase my protein intake
3) Reduce my sodium intake
4) Continue operating at a safe and sane calorie deficit
5) Continue my fitness routine
6) Increase my ab work
7) Find some yoga classes, but mainly because I've been looking for the right excuse to try it.

Thanks for all of your input.
posted by sequential at 3:42 PM on July 23, 2007

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