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The Truth Behind Rapid Weight Loss and the Best Way to Shed Pounds

The Truth Behind Rapid Weight Loss and the Best Way to Shed Pounds

“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.

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.

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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.

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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:[1]

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

1. Fiber

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.[2]

3. Water

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.[3]

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.[4]

7. Serotonin

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.[5]

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.

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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.

Conclusion

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.

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Featured photo credit: Meghan Holmes via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: A satiety index of common foods
[2] Rolls, Hetherington, Burley & van Duijvenvoorde, 1986: Sensory information
[3] Obes Sci Pract.: How does plate size affect estimated satiation and intake for individuals in normal‐weight and overweight groups?
[4] Nature: Leptin and the regulation of body weight in mammals.
[5] Obes Res. : Brain Serotonin, Carbohydrate-Craving, Obesity and Depression.

More by this author

Florian Wüest

Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss The Truth Behind Rapid Weight Loss and the Best Way to Shed Pounds How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss? How Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Keeps Hunger at Bay While Plant Based The Biggest Myth Debunked: The More Protein You Eat, the Faster You Build Muscles?

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Feeling tired all the time?

Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
  • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
  • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
  • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
  • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

Unfortunately, yes!

Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

  1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Using stressbusters
  4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

  • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
  • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
  • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
  • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

L — Living Healthy

Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

1. Unplug

Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

2. Unwind

Do something to relax.

Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

3. Get Comfortable

Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

E — Exercise

Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

That’s what happened in my case.

But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

That made sense to me.

So, I decided to swim.

I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

A — Attitude

Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

Breathing.

But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
  2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
  3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
  4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
  5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
  6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

N — Nutrition

Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

  1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
  2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
  3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
  4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
  5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
  6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
  7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
  8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
  9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

The Bottom Line

If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

  • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
  • Regular Exercise You Love
  • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
  • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

More Tips to Help You Rest Better

Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
[2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
[3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
[4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
[5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
[6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
[7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
[8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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