“If I drink this supplement, will I lose 40 pounds in two weeks?”
– the older man’s eyes stared at me vividly.
Another consultation with a new member in the fitness center that I manage. And yet another person that fell prey to the marketing-trap of a supplement company that promised immediate results.
Rapid weight loss is enticing. It speaks to our human nature. It’s unfortunately also a false fantasy of ours at the same time.
The truth is that while you might be able to lose weight in a very short time, it’s practically impossible to keep it off. Here’s why and how you can actually shed pounds – sustainably and continuously.
Table of Contents
The Little Secret Behind Rapid Weight Loss
I’ve talked about this multiple times:
I’ve googled ‘2 weeks transformation’ about 5 years ago. It’s when I started working out and didn’t see the expected results.
As a training newbie, I stood in front of the mirror and thought: This is not what I’ve signed up for. Full 14-days of relentless training and a strict diet and I still wasn’t seeing the results that I’ve wanted.
My envy suddenly started getting bigger, as I scrolled through pictures about those short-term transformations with incredible results. A sixpack after 2 weeks? It all seemed so easy.
What was I doing wrong? Is there a crucially important supplement that I’ve forgot to take?
Of course not everything in my workout schedule was perfect. I didn’t have the right knowledge, persistence nor a coach back then.
Yet I was on the right track, I’ve made that first step. But I was missing the most crucial factor of it all: Patience.
The Key to Patience
A mentor of me once told me bluntly: You can have it all young man. You can be a great salesman. You can be an entrepreneur. You can run a successful business. As long as you just freaking refuse to give up.
Is it that simple? It is.
I’ve came into a management position at a young age not because I’m the brightest. But because I’ve outlasted my colleagues. I’ve showed more tenacity and persistence at the right point, which eventually led to a promotion after a promotion.
There are a lot of similarities between business and the results in the gym. There are just different rewards.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s a time when you should quit. In fact, I’m a proponent of the mentality of ‘failing fast’. Yet there’s a distinction to be made between a strategy that isn’t working because of it’s content, or because of the lack of time.
For a more in-depth article of how long it takes to build muscle and lose fat, take a look at my other article: How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?
The Art of Weight Loss
“You will never get a sixpack.”
– most of my friends after I told them that I joined a gym.
Yet here I am, writing this article, with abdominal muscles. Flashing the structural appearance of a 6-pack. I shall repeat again: Weight loss is simple, but not easy.
It’s not easy because it goes against our nature. We all have to know that our ancestors dealt with much rougher situation than we did. Over millions of years our genome has evolved to store energy. No, to hold on to energy with all of their might, to prepare for rainy days.
Only in the recent decades we’ve went from scarcity to absolute abundance. The supermarket just around my corner, in beautiful Switzerland, contains ripe fruits from all over the world. Packaged, conserved foods that can be stored in our shelf for years to come.
While our recently-evolved, self-conscious forebrain is demanding us to keep losing 10 more pounds, our genome is subconsciously desperately trying to hold on to all of those energy storages.
Fat cells used to be our friends, now they’re enemies. (Find out more about the reason why here.)
How To Trick Your Genome
What if I told you that there is a way to soothe your genome and your brain at the same time? How can we manipulate both of these entities to reach our goals?
Here’s everything that you need to know about substantial and sustainable weight loss in one sentence: Calories and satiety are not linked. I repeat: Calories and satiety are not linked!
We can eat a huge McDonalds meal with thousands of calories. But still feel hungry after one hour. We can spoon ice cream late at night – and the only time we feel satiated is after we’re weighing 2 more pounds.
On the other hand we can eat 1-2 cups of broccoli or spinach and often feel full. What matters is the caloric density and the 7 crucial factors influencing satiety.
The 7 Facts About Satiety
Hunger and satiety are sensations. Satiety is the absence of hunger. If we feel satiated, we feel full. If we feel full often we’re more likely to stick to a diet.
If calories are not linked to satiety, which factors are then? Luckily in 1995 there was a study, where people were given servings of 38 foods. Here’s what they found:
The researchers concluded:
Servings of different foods vary greatly in their satiating capacity.
And the effect of a food on one’s satiety is important, as the satiety heavily influences our future eating behaviour – logically. These are the components that played a role.
Foods That Influence the Satiety Levels
Fiber fills up your stomach and speeds up the digestion through your small intestine. This means that less macronutrients will get absorbed. Therefore also less calories. Foods containing fibre-entrapped natural sugars produced the highest satiety scores in the whole studies. Let’s eat our veggies and fruits!
2. Sensory information
Studies have shown that our sensory information can play a huge part in our satiety. We’re primed to seek a variety of foods. But if we routinize the habit of eating and mostly eat the same foods during our eating breaks, satiety might come earlier.
If a food contains more water, it will naturally also be less calorie dense. Not only that, but the increased water content also fills up our stomach more. Boosting our feelings of satiety.
4. Protein and carbohydrates
Protein and carbohydrates (despite the refined sugar of course) seem to have great satiating effects. Both of these macronutrients can therefore help you lose fat more easily. But stay away from fatty products, as fat was inversely correlated with satiety. Plus fat contains nearly double the calories.
Other Factors That Influence the Satiety Levels
5. Plate size
The bigger the plate size, the more calories you will consume.
6. Amount of fat cells
Our fat cells, scientifically called adipocytes, release a hormone called leptin. Leptin levels are significantly higher in obese individuals. This is a bad thing. When we start dieting, our leptin level goes down fast – too fast. An indication to our brain that we’re starving. We suddenly feel hunger, have reduced motivation and burn less calories at rests. This means that if we’re overweight, our body wants to keep us like that.
Ever wondered why chocolate is so addictive? This tasty, dark food is releasing serotonine in our bodies. To the same extent as cigarettes. This explains why stress makes some people gain a lot of weight. They crave that good-feeling neurotransmitter that gets released by our brain neurons. This means that the less stress we have and the better we feel, the more satiety we will experience.
The Next Steps
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. – Abraham Lincoln
It’s time that we start thinking long-term when it comes to weight reduction. Because we have to realize that if we use the dieting approach to weight loss we’re losing both muscle mass and fat mass.
This means that every time we start a diet it gets harder, not easier. If we quit a diet – or worse: we gain all the weight back – we enter a negative spiral.
It’s therefore absolutely crucial that we start with the end in mind. We have to start a diet that is sustainable for months to come. There are three ways to do that:
1. Keep satiety as your main focus
While a calorie deficit is important we also have to focus on staying full. If our brain thinks we’re starving, our diet is doomed to fail.
If we fight against our genome we enter a war we can not win. Willpower isn’t enough.
2. Add weightlifting and cardiovascular training to your schedule
This way we can better the ratio of lost fat mass and lost muscle mass. Increased muscle mass will also make it easier to keep off the weight, as it increases our caloric need. And we can eat more, which is a great plus!
3. Instead of fundamentally changing your diet plan, add incremental changes.
While I offer professional meal plans at my website, I also stress the need to incrementally adapt to the new dieting approach.
A diet shouldn’t necessarily be a diet. It should be a long-term dietary change for the better. We lay the groundwork to our dieting success by beginning with the end in mind.
Rapid weight loss is a false fantasy. There’s no supplement that will help you lose 40 pounds in 2 weeks.
It’s practically impossible to keep the weight off long-term, because the dietary switch was never sustainable in the first place. The 7 key components of satiety, the physical training and the method of incremental changes weren’t applied properly.
Instead of focusing on short-term results, we should pay special attention to long-term habit change.
Because weight loss is a trojan horse. We might expect superficial results like an improved look in the mirror. But if we begin with the end in mind and if we focus on long-term habit change, it affects multiple components of our existence. In fact, some clients of ours told me happily that they’ve got – no they’ve earned – a new life.
Featured photo credit: Meghan Holmes via unsplash.com
|||^||European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: A satiety index of common foods|
|||^||Rolls, Hetherington, Burley & van Duijvenvoorde, 1986: Sensory information|
|||^||Obes Sci Pract.: How does plate size affect estimated satiation and intake for individuals in normal‐weight and overweight groups?|
|||^||Nature: Leptin and the regulation of body weight in mammals.|
|||^||Obes Res. : Brain Serotonin, Carbohydrate-Craving, Obesity and Depression.|