(Yes, it's possible -- if you have the, uh, tools.)

"Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days!  Guaranteed!"

By Terry Dunkle
DietPower Founder and CEO


For a 53-year-old man, I'm in pretty good shape.  I run or walk three and a half miles every day.  I don't smoke or drink (although I do cuss).  My blood pressure is 123/77. (I measured it just now with my Mark of Fitness BP monitor.)  And thanks to those daily workouts, my resting pulse is down in the 50s.

Nevertheless, I'm still 20 pounds overweight, and next week I'm scheduled  to be strolling on a public beach near


Exposing quackery and hype is a major part of DietPower's mission.  To suggest a topic for investigation, click here.

Kennebunkport, Maine, in a pair of royal-blue swimming trunks.  Given a deadline like that, I should be a sucker for a certain kind of e-mail that I've been receiving lately:


Melt Off 5-10 Pounds in the Next 7 Days!


I'm not making these up.  (The last one came in just this morning.)  I have dozens of others, all carefully preserved in a special Outlook folder.  I collect them the way some people collect postcards or paperweights.  Someday I'll tell you more of my adventures in tracking down the senders and testing their products (see "If the Slipper Doesn't Fit," February 2002).  And maybe I'll discuss their "guarantees," too.  But right now I'd like to focus on a much simpler question:

Can a person really lose weight that fast?

In other words, if you absolutely have to, can you get down to a size six for your cousin's wedding?  Can you pass that life-insurance exam?  Can you shed the five pounds the camera will put back on during your "60 Minutes" interview?

If you notice, most of those e-mails promise weight loss of one or two pounds per day for periods of a week to a month.  Suppose we go easy on them and say we only want to drop ten pounds in ten days.  Is this doable?

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I'm glad I asked that question.

To lose weight, you need to reduce one or more of the three main ingredients in your body:

  • Fat

  • Water
  • Flesh and bone

Let's start by considering the flesh and bone.

You can easily get rid of ten pounds by cutting off an arm.  The average arm weighs just about that much, if you take it off at the shoulder.  This is convenient, too, because the arm that 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 ten pounds in ten days -- in fact, you can lose ten pounds in a minute if you have a sharp Homelite and a bottle of Wild Turkey.

Some people, however, will prefer to 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 80 ÷ 16 = 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 ten-pound loss in only three days -- but you'll probably end up wearing that size 6 in your coffin.

(By the way, you can also kick the bucket from drinking too much water.  See "Death by Waterlogging," below.)

So now we're down to the third method: burning fat.  And here it gets really interesting.

Fat in your body is like gasoline in a car.  It stores the energy you need for walking, running, refinancing your mortgage, 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.")


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As a storage medium, fat is wonderfully efficient.  A pound 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 along with water in the liver and muscles.  To equal the storage capacity of 50 pounds of fat (the amount in my body right now), this glycogen/water mixture would have to weigh more than 400 pounds -- and I would have to weigh more than 550.  (I would also have a gigantic 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 2800 calories a day -- or 3300 if I throw in my daily walk or run.  Since a pound is 3500 calories, this means I can't lose a pound a day unless I eat nothing and increase my workout to five miles.  If you can do this for ten days straight, you're a better (and thinner) person than I am.

If you weigh 400 pounds, however, your energy needs are proportionately higher.  You could easily lose a pound a day by eating what I eat instead of what you eat.  But you'd feel just as famished as I do when I eat nothing.  That's because your body has an amazingly sophisticated system designed to "correct" a 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 the products in those e-mails promise.  But the truth is, even a dangerous level of amphetamines (probably the most powerful metabolic booster available) will increase your burn rate by only about 20 percent.  You can do better than that by taking a long walk every day.


The only real solution, then, is cutting off your arm.  And so far, none of these e-mails 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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DietPower 3.0 offers an expanded Food Dictionary containg 21,000 entries, a WaterMinder™ that
makes sure you're drinking enough water, and many other features.

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In the



Why Squirrels Don't Have Heart Attacks

Men who eat a small amount of nuts at least twice a week may have a lower risk of sudden cardiac death, says a recent article in the Archives of Internal Medicine

Harvard University researchers tracked the habits of 21,000 male doctors over 17 years beginning in 1982.  About one-fifth of the doctors said they never ate nuts at all; the others were divided into two groups who consumed a small packet or an ounce of nuts either A) once or twice a week or B) two to four times a week.  (They must've been frequent flyers.)  The results showed that those in the B group lowered their risk of sudden cardiac death by 47 percent.  They were also 30-percent less likely to die of other cardiovascular problems.

Nuts are a significant player in the Mediterranean diet, which has been proven time and again to be good for the heart.  They contain fat, but mostly the monounsaturated kind that can actually protect your circulatory system.  Nuts are also loaded with vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, and alpha-linolenic acid, a fatty acid that keeps your heart rhythms smooth.

Editor's note: Don't go nuts when you're eating nuts.  Although they're good for you, they're also high in calories. (To learn more about "good fats" and "bad fats," read this page on the American Medical Association's Web site.)


Death by Waterlogging

Although most people don't drink enough water for optimal health, it is possible to drink too much. The latest issue of Military Medicine documents the cases of three young recruits who died of water intoxication.

The military has had more than its share of heat strokes, and wants recruits adequately hydrated when they're doing long marches in the heat while carrying the equivalent of another person on their backs.  But Col. John Gardner, of the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, wrote the articles to warn against being overzealous.

In each case, the recruits drank between 10 and 20 quarts of water in just a few hours.  A 19-year-old Marine died after a 25-mile hike with a 90-pound backpack.  An Army recruit, also 19, collapsed and died after a six-mile hike; he died, paradoxically, of both heat stroke and over-hydration that led to depleted sodium levels in his blood. And the third was the first reported death by over-hydration associated with drug testing.  A 20-year-old drank too much water after being asked to produce a urine sample.

When a person drinks massive amounts of water, the excess enters the bowel, which leaches electrolytes such as sodium from the blood.  One fatal consequence of this shortage of sodium (called hyponatremia) is swelling of the brain.

Editor's note: An average adult should drink no more than 1-1/2 quarts (44 fl oz, or about five glasses) of plain water per hour or 12 quarts in 24 hours. If you're rehydrating at anywhere near this rate, it's safer to use sport drinks such as Gatorade and POWERade, which contain electrolytes. To learn more about hyponatremia, read this page on Rice University's Web site.

Take a Bite out of Crime?

Eating well is not only good for you, but can keep you out of jail.

So suggests a new British study, which finds that young prisoners were less likely to commit further crimes when they were given an adequate supply of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.  It is believed to be the first study linking crime and healthful eating.

The Oxford University researchers, writing in the current issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, stop short of that saying poor nutrition is the sole cause of crime.  But they do say that improving the diet of criminals is a cheap and effective way of preventing further antisocial behavior.  And they also believe that a better diet in society at large can cut crime and thus lower the prison population.

"Since every one of us needs these nutrients regardless of being in prison, there is every reason to think it may also reduce offending in the community," says the study's lead author, Bernard Gesch, a research scientist in physiology at Oxford.

The researchers tracked 230 young prisoners, half of whom got supplements and half of whom got placebo pills containing no nutrients.  The supplements included vitamins A, C, and D, as well as several B vitamins and omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids -- all of which are available over-the-counter as well as in foods.

The prisoners' behavior was tracked for nine months before they got the supplements and nine months after.  The prisoners on the dummy pills showed no change.  But those on the real pills committed 26-percent fewer crimes and 40-percent fewer serious or violent offenses during the period after their supplements began.

Although the researchers used supplements for easier tracking of nutrient intake, they claim that getting the same nutrients from food should work just as well.

Editor's note: This is a small study and hasn't yet been corroborated -- and the results sound too good to be true.  Stay tuned.  Meanwhile, if you want to monitor your own nutrient intake, use DietPower's Nutrient History function.  You'll find an illustrated description at www.dietpower.com/Help/diet/nutrient_history__your.htm.



  They Said It: Customer Mail

Should DietPower Go Public?

I downloaded DietPower 3.0 after seeing it on the Discovery Health Channel's "Body Challenge" -- and I love it!  It's helped me lose more than 45 pounds in five months.  Let me know if your company plans to go public.  I would be interested in buying stock.

I've also shown DietPower to friends who are using Nutri/System and Weight Watchers.  If other weight loss programs included your software, people would have a better chance of success in getting fit and losing weight.  Keep up the great work!

-- Kelly Dugan; Mountain View, Calif.

Editor's reply: We were pleased to see a DietPower user win the Discovery Health Body Challenge (click here for details).  And if we plan a public offering of stock, we'll be sure to let our users know.

Dr. Cooper's Legacy

I love your software.  It does for dieting what Dr. Kenneth Cooper's book Aerobics did for running and cardio-pulmonary workouts in the early Seventies: gives you confidence that your health goals are being achieved by the number of points you accumulate.  In DietPower's case, I'm confident that I will reach my goal weight on the intended target date if I restrict myself to the daily budgeted calories.  Thanks for your help!

-- John Calamos; Fredericksburg, Va.

Editor’s reply: DietPower founder and CEO Terry Dunkle began jogging after reading Dr. Cooper's book in 1975, and has run or walked regularly ever since.  (See '''Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days! Guaranteed!'", above.)  Like Cooper, Dunkle is a military veteran who turned to aerobics and nutrition to control his own weight.

$50 Quiz: The Dark Side of Sugar

Answer the question below and your name will go into this month's drawing.  If you win, we'll send you a $50 gift certificate toward any food scale, bath scale, body-fat scale, pedometer, yoga kit, cholesterol monitor, or any other product in DietPower's Health Shop -- including our own top-rated personal weight- and nutrition-management software.


Which of the following is a proven consequence of eating too much sugar?

  A. Hyperactivity in children
  B. Tooth decay
  C. Diabetes
  D. Tay-Sachs disease
  E. Gout

Hint: You'll find the answer in DietPower's help system.  (If you don't have DietPower on your computer, you can download a free 15-day trial right now.  If the trial gives you an "Expired" message, click here and we'll help you reactivate it.)

Send one answer to quizmaster@dietpower.com.  (Sorry, you'll be disqualified if you enter multiple responses.)

Entries in the July quiz must be received by August 10.  We'll announce the winner in the next issue of this newsletter. To claim the prize, the winner must e-mail quizmaster@dietpower.com within 45 days of the newsletter announcement.

Congratulations, David Thomas!

You won a $50 gift certificate by answering our June quiz, which inquired about fast foods.  Here's the question:

Which of the following chain-restaurant meals is the most fattening?
  A. A Big Mac, a salad with vinaigrette dressing, and a 16-ounce Coke at McDonald's
  B. A 6-inch tuna sandwich, two sugar cookies, and a 13-ounce frozen-berry drink at Subway
  C. A grilled-chicken sandwich, a large chili, and an 11-ounce cola at Wendy's
  D. A regular Triple Crunch sandwich (no sauce), mashed potatoes with gravy, and an 8-ounce whole milk at Kentucky Fried Chicken
  E. A Super Roast Beef sandwich, potato cakes, and an 8-ounce regular milk at Arby's

The answer is B -- the Subway meal.

Subway has cleverly positioned itself as the healthful fast-food chain through a series of TV spots featuring Jared Fogle, who lost 245 pounds eating almost nothing but Subway sandwiches.  It happens that he started his diet because he walked by a Subway every day, but he could just as easily have lost the weight by dining at a McDonald's or a Wendy's.

Fogle took notice of Subway's sandwiches that are low in fat, and stuck with them. Had he chosen other Subway items, however, he could have saved the expense of buying a new wardrobe.  Likewise, he could have subsisted on lower-fat, lower-calorie foods at other fast-food joints.  It all depends on what he chose to eat.

Given the choices in our quiz, Subway comes out as the loser even though the entrée is a tuna sandwich.  Despite its self-made image, Subway, like other fast-food restaurants, has an "extra-value" menu -- and in this case the menu lets you substitute two fattening cookies for a bag of potato chips.  Thanks to the 444 calories in the cookies (that's more than in the sandwich!), this meal totals 976 calories.

By contrast, the McDonald's meal has only 875 calories, mostly because of the salad. The Wendy's meal, thanks to the side of chili, is 740.  The Arby's meal is 840.  And the KFC meal isn't as fattening as it may seem: only 655.**

Most entrants gave the wrong answer to this quiz.  Often it was because they counted grams of fat instead of calories.  It's true that fat, because it's a more concentrated form of energy than carbohydrate or protein, will add more pounds to your waistline per bite.  But the root cause of overweight is consuming too many calories, regardless of what kind of food they come from.

Thanks, David -- and thanks to the many others who participated.  Good luck with this month's quiz!
** You'll find this information and a lot more at www.dietpower.com/restaurants.htm, where we've posted links to top fast-food chains that publish nutrition facts.  If you're a DietPower user, the same facts also appear in our software's Food Dictionary.





  DietPower Tips

The new DietPower 3.0 lets you graph your blood pressure, cholesterol level, or any other "custom variable" you'd like to set up in your Body Log.  For instructions, open the program's help system (by clicking the Help button on your home screen, shown at

right) and click "Custom Variables, Setting Up Your."  (If you haven't yet tried DietPower 3.0, you can download a no-obligation copy right now.  Click here.)
Version 3.0 also includes a WaterMinder™, to help make sure you're drinking enough for good health.  (Most people don't!)  The WaterMinder's button is shown at right.  For complete information on this vital topic, read the Help topics "WaterMinder" and "Water."


You can edit your Personal Daily Allowance of any nutrient to whatever level your doctor recommends.  Just open the Options Menu (by clicking the word "Options" at the top of DietPower’s Home Screen) and choose "Edit PDAs."


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Copyright © 1992-2006 by DietPower, Inc.  All rights reserved.  The names DietPower and Piping Hot! are trademarks of DietPower, Inc.  Information in this newsletter is meant to increase your awareness of the importance of nutrition to health.  It is not meant to substitute for the advice of a health professional.

Last Modified: December 22, 2017 00:50:32.          Reference No. 6/1/03