Advertising
Advertising

Published on October 18, 2018

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

Featured photo credit: Meghan Holmes via unsplash.com

Reference

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?

Trending in Physical Strength

1 How to Gain Muscle Fast (The Healthy And Natural Way) 2 These 13 Leg Stretches Will Prevent Pain and Injury During Exercise 3 7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance 4 The Ultimate 5-Day Workout Routine for Women to Get Strong and Toned 5 The Ultimate Workout Routine for Men (Tailored for Different Fitness Level)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

Advertising

This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

Advertising

If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

Advertising

Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

Advertising

To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

Read Next