(Scroll down to the end of the page for this reader’s story.)
Sitting through high school chemistry class one gorgeous spring day, an equally bored friend of mine and I came up with a sure-fire diet program based entirely on the thermal properties of water. Let me run it by you. We'd been taught that water has a high specific heat. That is, it takes a lot of heat to raise the temperature of water even a little. "A watched pot never boils," or so it seems, because even a gas stove's flames or the red-hot coil of an electric range can never boil that pot of water quickly enough when you want your spaghetti. Why? It takes one unit of heat called a calorie (small "c") to raise one gram of water (which is one milliliter, or ml) by one degree Celsius (very roughly equivalent to nearly two degrees Fahrenheit, or F). Sorry about the math anxiety this may be arousing in you, but I'm going somewhere with this.
Your body temperature is surprisingly hot, approaching 100 degrees F (okay, okay, 98.6). "Cold" tap water is perhaps 50 degrees F or less. Ice is 32 degrees F, and "ice water" might be in the high 30's. If ice water were 38.6 degrees, that is fully sixty degrees lower than you body temperature.
Now a dietetic Calorie (with the large C) is more properly termed a kilocalorie, equal to 1,000 small-c calories. It takes 1,000 little one-ml-of-water-two-degrees heat calories to make one "food" Calorie.
Hmm. A small-c calorie of heat can only raise one ml of water about two degrees F. A liter of water is 1,000 ml. One food big-C Calorie is 1,000 little calories. So you have to burn one Calorie to raise the temperature of one liter of water two degrees.
Uh huh. But that means that to raise the temperature of a liter of ice water sixty degrees, to body temperature, takes 30 Calories. Two liters would burn 60 Calories.
Just ten extra food Calories per day, for ten years, will gain you ten pounds. In other words, if you eat only ten superfluous Calories each day, you will gain a pound a year. That is admittedly not much. On the other hand, you would have real trouble cutting me a ten-Calorie piece of chocolate cake. On a dessert plate, ten Calories looks almost insignificant.
If, however, you drank two liters of ice water a day, you will burn 60 Calories each day just heating to your normal body temperature.
That is six pounds per year weight loss: a pound every two months.
In ten years, that's 60 pounds of weight lost.
(That is in fact a minimum figure. Since one degree Celsius is actually only 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the process will burn about ten percent more Calories.)
Two liters is just over eight eight-ounce glasses, no more than many a physician would advise you to drink anyway. Make that water cold, and you burn calories watching TV. A pound every two months, on ice water. No exercise factored in; no dietary changes considered. Just add water. Cold water.
Ice gouged out vast river valleys and ice water filled the great lakes; ice sunk the Titanic and ice water killed hundreds of its passengers. Ice water for simple weight loss? What a simple twist of physics.
But wait, there's more. Many a person drinking more liquids will eat fewer solids. Even water is filling if you drink enough of it. Reduced food means reduced Calories. Take a daily multivitamin tablet to cover nutrient losses which are inevitable in any diet.
Americans consume more soft drinks than all other beverages put together (yes, that includes milk, tea, coffee, juices, sports drinks, bottled water, liquor, wine and beer). Drink water instead of pop, and you will be consuming much less sugar (and fewer Calories) or, in the case of diet pop, far less of those questionable artificial sweeteners. We'd also avoid the carbonic acid found in all carbonated beverages, and the phosphoric acid added to colas. Dentists etch teeth with phosphoric acid, and carbonic acid isn't much easier on the enamel, either.
Can we get too much water? Not easily; your body is naturally mostly water. Your blood is mostly water. Your food is mostly water. Your bowels and kidneys require water for excretion of wastes. Why, you were conceived in an aquatic environment. Too little water is associated with kidney stones, urinary tract infections, febrile illness, dehydration, and worse.
So drink yourself slim.
We’re just warming up. Vegetable juicing is next.
Comedian Dick Gregory came to our college
campus to speak against the
I was to be
surprised. Gregory had pledged not to eat until the war was over. He
started his fast at 308 pounds and was down to 135. To save his life,
his promise was amended to not eat any solids until the war was over.
I was four feet away from the man. The room was ablaze with the dazzlingly bright portable white lights of TV reporters. Cameras whirred and clicked and the questions flew. As he quietly answered, Mr. Gregory calmly commenced juicing. I don't quite remember where the juicer came from, but there it was, all right. Cup after cup of orange or green drinks went into the man. The questions from the press stayed on his anti-war views. I don't recall any questions about his diet. It was weird to watch. I thought Mr. Gregory was off his rocker.
Years later, now pressed into responsibility as Dad of two little children, I was re-reading Mr. Gregory. Only this time, it wasn't his politics I was interested in; it was that darn juice thing. In Dick Gregory's Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin' with Mother Nature, Gregory asserted that his kids had hardly ever been sick. I doubted that. Moreover, he wrote, they had never been vaccinated and they had never had any of the common and seemingly inevitable diseases of childhood. This I flatly disbelieved. But, driven by parenthood, I couldn't avoid being curious how he thought he'd managed that. I mean, sure he was wrong, but what if he was right?
In college, Professor John Mosher had taught me that scientists try all approaches until they find the one that works. At the time, I had listened quite dispassionately. But now I was faced with science made personal: I had a family. There not being any way to hurt kids with vegetables, I started juicing at home. Grumbling like refrigerators that are always running, my family nevertheless followed Mr. Gregory's health footsteps.
It was successful; my kids got all the way into college and never had a single dose of any antibiotic.
Still more years later, I learned of people weighing 600, 800, even over 1,000 pounds losing weight with vegetable juicing when all else had failed. Guess who was behind it? Dick Gregory. He had been called in to get the morbidly obese into vegetable juicing, and did it. He got them doing exactly what he had done, and they lost hundreds of pounds. Plus, they got healthier in the process. Forget his politics; Gregory's enduring contribution will be saved lives.
I myself tried a half-hearted, perhaps one-third vegetable juice diet and lost over twenty pounds in three months. It was easy. Getting someone to try it is the only obstacle.
To summarize: there are four "noble truths" of weight loss.
1. There is fat. Fat is real, and really unhealthy. Over half of Americans are overfat, and one in four is obese. If you are overweight, admit it now before you die early and miss seeing your grandchildren grow up.
2. There is a cause of being fat: you are either eating too many Calories, or burning too few. It's about behaviors, not genetics. If you have heavy parents and you have heavy children, look for what I call dinner table heredity. You are not doomed by their DNA. It is far more likely that you have merely adopted your family's eating habits.
3. There is a way out: behave differently. Eat fewer Calories, or burn more, preferably both. Both are within any human being's power, and don't try to tell me otherwise. Anyone, even a paraplegic, can exercise. Even in a wheelchair or bed you can lift small weights to start. And one of the few genuinely few choices everyone has is what they will or will not put into their mouths.
4. It's not so much how much you consume, but what you consume a lot of. Water and vegetable juices are low-calorie and very, very low-fat. There is essentially no limit to how much water you can drink, or the amount of vegetables you can eat. Juicing vegetables is even better. Vegetable juicing increases both the quantity of vegetables that you will eat, and increases the absorption of those vegetables. Nutrient deficiency, a common obstacle with dieting, is therefore nonexistent. Check any nutrition textbook food chart and you will see carbohydrates, protein, minerals and vitamins are very well represented in the vegetable family. Fats? Of course not, but isn't that the idea? The essential linolenic and linoleic fatty acids are easily obtained with a tablespoon or two of lecithin granules daily. You can take the lecithin in juice. Lecithin before a meal is a surprisingly good appetite suppressant, by the way.
You cannot live on water alone; Mahatma Gandhi and entirely too many others have approached death after weeks and months of total fasting. But, like Dick Gregory, you can live for a long time on vegetable juices alone and be the better for it. The really good news is that you won't have to. You don't have to quit your job to get a good summer vacation away from it.
Just try it and see. Christina in
“In 2003 I weighed 166 at
5'6," wore a size 14, had a heart arrhythmia, chronic ITP (platelets
between 10-20,000, the dangerous range), full-blown ulcerative colitis,
rhinitis, rashes, and anemia. I was 35, grouchy and generally irritable and
fatigued, was on several prescriptions, and felt like I had no more energy
for any activities. Whenever I saw my doctors I was told that surgery,
avoiding certain strenuous activities, and lifelong medication were in my
future. Men rarely gave me a glance, unsurprisingly, and I dressed to
“There are also some funny moments, such as on the lunch line when I order my organic salad toppings and always order two portions of sprouts and twice the vegetables the others order, or when I encounter overweight colleagues in the elevator when I am carrying my 5-pound healthy lunch upstairs, or on a business trip when I started peeling a tangerine I kept in my handbag and the business guys turned to see where the smell was coming from. Or on another business trip when I had just run a 15 km race before jumping on an airplane and it turned out that I was the same age as an overweight, fatigued, graying depressed businessperson in our group, who the next day skipped lunch with us and ate a granola bar instead.
“Another funny effect is that people who did not know me in the bad old days find it hard to believe that I was ever overweight or unwell and think I must be exaggerating or even lying about having been those things. To lighten things up on business trips, when I take out my pumpkin seeds or piece of fruit or four glasses of water in a conference room, I say I am a "recovering fat person" and people are genuinely amazed when I tell them I lost almost 40 pounds.
“Or in the pharmacy, of which I was once a frequent customer handing over three or four prescriptions at a time (for nasal sprays, prednisone, cortisone inserts for colitis, pain medication, antibiotics, synthroid, asthma medication) when I hand over the toothpaste and they say expectantly, "anything else?" and I say, "Nope!" and bound out to enjoy the day.
”I am looking forward to a long, active and healthy life. Thanks again so much for devoting your efforts and energies to this cause.”
You can do it too!
(More diet and weight loss hints at http://www.doctoryourself.com/weight_loss.html )
Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at http://www.doctoryourself.com/review.html ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/saulbooks.html )
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