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5 Sources of Fake Weight Loss Results In Your Body

5 Sources of Fake Weight Loss Results In Your Body

In this article, you will learn 5 different ways in which your body can trick you with “fake” weight loss results on just about any weight loss diet. I call these results fake, because they can make it look like you’re losing a lot of weight even when you’re hardly losing any body fat at all.

In other words, fake weight loss is any weight you might lose that won’t come out of your body fat reserves (such weight is also known as your non-fat body weight, or your lean body mass). Many rapid weight loss diets (or crash diets, if you will) take a huge advantage of this. They trick you with an illusion of fast weight loss, but as soon as you’re off the diet, you gain most of the lost weight back.

This is nothing new, we all know this as the dreaded yo-yo dieting effect. Except, only a handful of people understand exactly why this happens on so many fast weight loss diets.

In this article, I will use a combination of weight loss science and personal experiments to show you what actually happens in your body during (and after) most crash diets.

I will not only explain the 5 five different sources of fake weight loss results in your body, but I’ll also try to estimate by how much each of these 5 sources can mess up your weight loss results.

1. Dehydration (loss of body water)

Back in 2004, I did an extreme weight loss challenge to demonstrate how to lose the most weight in one day. I have shown it’s possible to lose almost 20 pounds (or 9 kilograms) of weight in just 24 hours. But you should know that what I did IS extremely dangerous. When taken to extremes, dehydration can literally cause your heart to fail [1], so do not repeat what I did under any circumstances.

I specifically designed my extreme weight loss experiment to lose as much water weight as possible in those 24 hours. I hardly drank any fluids during my challenge, and I used a couple of natural diuretics to force even more water out of my body. On top of that, I exercised in intense heat to lose huge amounts of body water (through sweat).

But given how many calories I actually burned in those 24 hours, I couldn’t have lost a lot more than a pound of body fat. So at least 18 out of the 20 pounds I lost didn’t come from my body fat reserves.

Not getting in any fluids, diuretics, heat, and exercise can all dehydrate in your body. But there are two more specific reasons why our bodies release even more water weight during extreme weight loss.

So let’s get those two out of the way first.

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2. Glycogen

Your body stores energy in a couple of different ways. While a huge majority of that energy is stored away in your body fat reserves, some of it is also stored as glycogen. Burning away your glycogen reserves can also make it look like you’re getting great weight loss results, even when you’re not necessarily losing any body fat at all.

Our bodies store about a pound (or a little over 400 grams) of glycogen on average [2], but every gram of glycogen also binds about 3-4 grams of water to itself [3]. Because I ate almost no food while exercising for about 6 hours during my extreme weight loss challenge, I wiped out most, if not all of my glycogen reserves. As my body kept burning away glycogen for energy, the number on my scale started dropping pretty quickly. But again, that didn’t mean I was actually losing a lot of body fat, I was simply losing the weight of glycogen (and the water that was bound to it).

Now, while an average person stores about a pound of glycogen, some people can store more than two pounds of it. In other words, if you completely wiped out your glycogen reserves, the number on your scale could deceive you by as much as 7.7 pounds (5 kilograms) [2] of fake weight loss.

3. Salt (sodium)

Salt, or more precisely, sodium (sodium is the main component of salt), plays a huge role in our modern diets. Even if you’re not adding any extra salt to your food, there’s a good chance your diet already contains a lot of sodium. Sodium isn’t just added to junk foods like pizza and hamburgers, but also to foods like bread, turkey breast, chicken noodle soup, and lots of other processed foods.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “more than 75% of the sodium Americans eat comes from restaurant, prepackaged, and processed foods.” [4]

Okay, but what does all this have to do with fake weight loss results?

All that extra sodium we eat with our food, can force our bodies to hold on to quite a lot of extra body water (to keep that sodium diluted in concentrations that aren’t harmful to your body). Because I exercised and sweat a lot in my weight loss experiment, I also lost a lot of sodium and the water that was bound to it (we lose a lot of sodium as we sweat [5]).

So pretty much like glycogen, the loss of sodium (and the water bound to it), can trick you into believing you’re losing a lot of weight, even when we’re not necessarily losing any body fat at all.

How much fake weight loss can sodium actually cause?

This information was pretty hard to come by, but based on one study [6] and my own sodium weight loss experiment, it’s possible to lose as much as 6 pounds (3 kilograms) of body weight if you get rid of any extra sodium in your body.

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4. Muscle mass and vital organ tissue

The loss of your muscle mass and vital organ tissue (your vital body mass) is another critical problem you’ll run into, if you try to repeat what I did in my extreme weight loss experiment. Because, once you start running low on glycogen, your body simply can’t extract enough energy from your body fat reserves alone. So after you wipe out your glycogen reserves, your body will have no choice but to start burning away some of your “structural proteins” for energy [7].

Where will those structural proteins come from?

Proteins are the basic building blocks of your muscles and vital organs. This means your body will literally start eating itself away, just so it can keep you alive during times of extreme weight loss.

How bad can this get?

If I “just” stopped eating food during my extreme experiment, I could end up losing as much as 1 pound (0.5 kilograms) of vital body mass in a single day [7]. But if you keep exercising after running out of glycogen, you can lose over 100 grams of your vital body mass for every hour of exercise. I began my experiment with full glycogen reserves, but then exercised for about 6 hours. So in those 24 hours, I probably lost somewhere around 2 pounds of muscle mass and vital organ tissue in total.

My experiment was extreme, so the destruction of my vital body mass was extreme as well. But the same destruction of your vital body mass will happen on pretty much all but the slowest of weight loss diets (although it won’t be nearly as extreme as in my experiment). Explaining the science on why that happens – and more importantly, how to prevent this without slowing down your fat burn rates – is definitely a story for another article.

So let me just wrap this part up by saying that your final weight loss results will also look better if you’re losing your vital body mass on a rapid weight loss diet. Again, this will have nothing to do with your body fat and is something you’d want to avoid at all cost.

5. Food waste

Let’s take a look at the one last thing that can cause a fake drop of the number on your bathroom scale. I ate almost no food during my 24-hour weight loss experiment, but I could have gone even more extreme. I could have taken a laxative, or use any colon cleansing method to empty out my colon.

If I got rid of all food waste from my colon, this too could make my final weight loss results look even better on paper. I could be “bragging” about an even bigger drop of the number on the scale (without losing any extra body fat).

Colon cleansing is something that actually gets recommended on a lot of different diets/cleanses. Also, if you do any kind of a juice/liquid diet, or simply eat less food overall, you could again be looking at “better” weight loss results at the end of the weight loss diet. The less (solid) foods you eat, the more your colon will empty out, and the better your final weight loss will seem.

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How much fake weight loss are we talking about here?

According to one study [7] – in which they tested “industrial-strength” colon cleansers (the stuff they use in medicine to prepare patients for surgery) – you could end up losing up to 6.6 pounds (3 kilograms) of weight, simply by clearing out your colon.

For the last time, this quick drop of the number on the scale would have absolutely nothing to do with your body fat.

What are the maximum possible fake weight loss results?

To sum up the maximum potential for fake weight loss results on just about any rapid weight loss diet, here’s how much weight you could lose from all 5 sources of fake weight loss results in your body:

  • up to 7.7 pounds (5 kilograms) of weight by wiping up your glycogen reserves
  • up to 6 pounds (3 kilograms) of weight by reducing the amount of sodium in your diet
  • up to 6.6 pounds (3 kilograms) of weight by emptying out your colon
  • up to 1 pound (or more with exercise) of muscle mass and vital organ tissue per day.
  • on top of all this, you could keep dehydrating your body to the point where it becomes the very last thing you’ll ever do (but I am counting on you to NEVER try anything like that).

Ok, so these are the maximum possible numbers, and they at least roughly add up if I compare them to my real-life results. In my extreme 24-hour weight loss experiment I lost at least 18 pounds of non-fat weight, which can be explained with the numbers above.

If I wanted to precisely measure how many of the 18 pounds I lost came from each of the 5 possible sources, I would need access to some pretty expensive & complicated equipment. But exact number aren’t important. The important thing is that you now have a good enough idea of just how big of an weight loss illusion crash diets can create.

And what happens when you break off a rapid weight loss diet and return to your normal diet?

The real reason for fast weight regains after a crash diet

If you return to roughly the same diet you were on before you started a crash diet, all the non-fat weight you lost during the diet will return pretty quickly.

Your glycogen reserves will refill, your body will regain the water it lost because of dehydration, you will gain back the sodium-bound water weight, and your colon will fill back up again. In my extreme weight loss experiment, it only took two days to gain back almost all the weight I lost (but I did eat more food than I normally do).

Now, if you do a crash diet and then start eating too many calories once you’re off the diet, you WILL gain back any body fat you lost over time (and likely add some on top). But those first couple of pounds you gain back very quickly will have nothing to do your body fat.

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The only way to make sure if a diet has actually helped you lose body fat instead of just dropping your non-fat weight temporarily (or worse, destroying a lot of muscle mass and vital organ tissue), is to measure your body fat percentage before and after the diet. The important thing is that you now understand what happens “under the hood” if you do a fast weight loss diet and then quickly gain back some weight.

You will no longer think that the diet didn’t work, that you did something wrong, that your metabolism has been “crippled” by the diet, or even that you’ve lost and regained pounds and pounds of body fat in a matter of days (which is simply not possible).

Can crash diets deliver only fake weight loss results?

Let’s put something into perspective. Even though I lost “just” a pound of body fat in my 24-hour weight loss challenge, it would still take a week or two to lose the same amount of body fat on most standard weight loss diets.

If my experiment didn’t involve dangerously dehydrating my body and destroying a lot of muscle mass and vital organ tissue in the process, we could actually be talking about one of the fastest fat burn methods on the planet (but we can’t, cause what I did is simply too dangerous).

Crash diets have gained a very bad reputation because of the rarely understood yo-yo effect, but some well-designed rapid weight loss diet can actually target your body fat reserves extremely well (and do so without the destruction of your muscle mass and vital organ tissue).

The problem is, only a handful of rapid fat loss diets have ever been scientifically proven to be able to deliver those kind of results [7]. I have to wrap this article up, but if you’re interested in more information on this, look up muscle sparing fasting (or as scientist call it, protein-sparing modified fasting).

This was a long read, but congratulations for making it all the way to the end.

My hope for this article is to eliminate at least some of the confusion, frustration, and disappointment people usually run into when they regain weight after a rapid weight loss diet. If you know someone who ever suffered through such feelings, do them a favor and share this science-based explanation of the yo-yo dieting effect with them.

Featured photo credit: pixabay.com / geralt via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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