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Last Updated on December 16, 2020

The Truth of Rapid Weight Loss: How to Actually Shed Pounds

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The Truth of Rapid Weight Loss: How to Actually Shed Pounds

“If I drink this supplement, will I lose 40 pounds in two weeks?”

 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 and rapid weight loss.

Rapid weight loss is enticing. It speaks to our human nature. It’s unfortunately also a false fantasy of ours.

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 Key to Patience

A mentor of mine once told me bluntly: You can have it all young man. You can be a great salesman and entrepreneur. You can run a successful business. As long as you just refuse to give up.

Is it that simple? It is.

I came into a management position at a young age not because I’m the brightest but because I outlasted my colleagues.

There are a lot of similarities between business and the results in the gym. They just produce different rewards.

If something isn’t working simply because you don’t have the patience to push through, develop this crucial piece of the puzzle before moving on.

You can learn more about just how long it takes to build muscle and lose fat here.

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The Art of Weight Loss

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 situations than we did. Over millions of years our genome has evolved to store energy in order to prepare for rainy days.

Only in the recent decades have we gone from scarcity to absolute abundance. The supermarket just around my corner 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 desperately trying to hold on to all of those bits of energy storage, making rapid weight loss nearly impossible.

Fat cells used to be our friends, and now they’re enemies. (Find out more about the reason why here.) In order to beat them and lose weight, we have to learn to go against nature and trick our genome.

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.

We can eat a huge McDonalds meal with thousands of calories but still feel hungry after one hour. We can scoop out some ice cream late at night, and the only time we feel satiated is after we’ve gained 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 seven crucial factors influencing satiety.

7 Parts of Satiety

Hunger and satiety are sensations. Satiety is the absence of hunger. If we feel satiated, we feel full. If we feel full, we’re more likely to stick to a diet.

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If calories are not linked to satiety, which factors are? Lucky for us, a study on satiety gave us some answers. The researchers concluded:[1]

Servings of different foods vary greatly in their satiating capacity.[2]

Optimize satiety for rapid weight loss

    And the effect of a food on one’s satiety is important, as the satiety heavily influences our future eating behavior. These are the components that played a role.

    Fiber

    Fiber fills up your stomach and speeds up digestion through your small intestine. This means that less macronutrients will get absorbed. Therefore, also less calories.

    Foods containing fiber-entrapped natural sugars produced the highest satiety scores in the whole study. If you want to feel full, start taking in more fruits and vegetables.

    Sensory Information

    Studies have shown that our sensory information can play a huge part in our satiety and rapid weight loss. We’re primed to seek a variety of foods, but if we routinize the habit of eating the same foods during our eating breaks, satiety might come earlier.[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 feelings of satiety.

    Protein and Carbohydrates

    Protein and (good) carbohydrates seem to have great satiating effects. Both of these macronutrients can, therefore, help you lose fat more easily. However, stay away from fatty products, as fat was inversely correlated with satiety. Fat also contains nearly double the calories.

    Plate Size

    The bigger the plate size, the more calories you will consume, which will slow you down on the road to rapid weight loss.[4] This may seem obvious, but many people eat far more than they should simply because they fill up a plate that’s bigger than a normal portion size.

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    Amount of Fat Cells

    Our fat cells, scientifically called adipocytes, release a hormone called leptin. Leptin levels are significantly higher in obese individuals. When we start dieting, our leptin level goes down fast—too fast. It’s an indication to our brain that we’re starving.

    We suddenly feel hunger, have reduced motivation, and burn less calories at rest. This means that if we’re overweight, our body wants to keep us like that.[5]

    Serotonin

    Do you ever wonder why chocolate is so addictive? This tasty, dark food is releasing serotonin in our bodies to the same extent as cigarettes. This explains why stress often causes weight gain.

    They crave that good-feeling neurotransmitter that gets released in our brains. This means that the less stress we have and the better we feel, the more satiety we will experience.[6]

    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 about long-term weight results when it comes to weight reduction. We have to realize that if we use the dieting approach to rapid weight loss, we’re losing both muscle and fat mass.

    This means that every time we start a diet, it gets harder, not easier.

    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. Focus on Satiety

    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. If we fight against our genome, we enter a war we can not win. Eat high protein foods while avoiding processed foods. This will get you started.

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    2. Add Weightlifting and Cardiovascular Training to Your Schedule

    Weightlifting and cardio can improve the ratio of lost fat and muscle mass and keep us healthy. Increased muscle mass will also make it easier to keep off the weight, as it increases our caloric need.

    You can learn more about why cardio is so good for you in this article.

    3. Add Incremental Changes

    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.

    Try making one small change to your diet each week to avoid shocking your body and mind. As you work incrementally, you’ll train your body to adjust slowly and sustainably.

    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 if you do this because the dietary switch was never sustainable in the first place.

    Instead of focusing on short-term results, we should pay special attention to long-term habit change to get us to a healthy weight and more balanced levels of body fat.

    Weight loss is a trojan horse. We might expect superficial results like an improved reflection in the mirror, but if we begin with the end in mind and focus on long-term habit change, it affects multiple components of our existence and can lead to a better quality of life overall.

    More Weight Loss Tips

    Featured photo credit: Meghan Holmes via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    More by this author

    Florian Wüest

    Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

    Your Body on Caffeine Addiction: 70 Cups of Coffee in 7 Days 7 Super Fast Remedies for a Pulled Muscle in Neck Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss Hit a Weight Loss Plateau? Here’s How To Break Through It How to Gain Muscle Quickly and Naturally (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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    Published on August 24, 2021

    What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

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    What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

    I’ve been a dietitian now for a long time (more years than I care to mention), and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that fad diets are best avoided. This is why I’m so pleased that whole food diets are being talked about more and more.

    Rather than a “diet,” I prefer to think of a whole food diet as a way of life. Eating this way is balanced, and it is a great way to support your all-around body health and longevity. Plus, it’s delicious and—in my opinion—not limiting either, which is a massive bonus.

    A well-balanced diet follows some fairly basic principles and, in essence, consists of plenty of the following:

    • Fruit
    • Vegetables
    • Whole grains
    • Lean protein
    • Nuts
    • Water

    This is essentially all a whole food diet is. Unfortunately, there isn’t an accepted definition of the whole food diet, which means that there are some highly restrictive versions around and some involve principles to frame your diet around rather than strict rules.

    Read on to learn more about the whole food diet as a framework for eating rather than a strict rule book of dos and don’ts that restricts your lifestyle.

    What Is a Whole Food Diet?

    By definition, a whole food diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of organic, local, or pesticide-free, but a whole food diet is basically food in its most natural form. Obviously, spices can be ground and grains can be hulled, but you get the idea. You eat the whole food rather than what’s left after being refined or processed.

    In other words, it involves a lot of cooking because whole foods do not involve anything processed. That means no premade sauces, dips, or convenience foods like chocolate bars, sweets, or ready-meals. It also includes things like tinned vegetables and white bread.

    Why? Processed and convenience foods are often high in salt, saturated fat, and additives in comparison to anything homemade. Because of this, their toll on your overall health is higher.

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    Can Other Diets Also Be Whole Food Diets?

    Here’s where it gets confusing—yes, other diets can also be whole food diets. Eating a whole food diet is a lifestyle choice, but many other diets can exist within a whole foods construct. So, diets like the MIND Diet and Mediterranean Diet are also whole food diets.

    For example, here are the foods involved in the MIND Diet:[1]

    • Green, leafy vegetables five times a week
    • Five or more different colored fruits and vegetables every day.
    • Berries five times a week
    • Five or more servings of nuts a week
    • Olive oil five times a week
    • Whole grains five times a week
    • Oily fish twice a week or take an algae-based omega-3 supplement
    • Legumes and pulses five times a week
    • White meat/mix of plant-based proteins twice a week
    • Vitamin D supplement
    • Minimally processed foods
    • No more than one glass of wine a day
    • One or two coffee or tea a day max
    • Two liters of water a day

    That’s pretty much a whole food diet, right? As long as any meat or plant-based proteins are as unprocessed as possible, then it can be a whole food diet.

    Other diets, like a vegan diet, for instance, could be whole food diets or not. It really depends if processed foods are included. Some food substitutes are really heavily processed, so it’s important to read labels really carefully. But it’s only some, not all.

    And here’s where it gets woolly. If you don’t need to eliminate certain food groups for whatever reason—ethical, health, religion—then a whole food diet can be great. But if you do exclude certain foods, then it could be beneficial to include certain “processed” foods. This is to make sure that you don’t miss out on vital nutrients to keep you healthy.

    Processed Foods That Are Okay on a Whole Food Diet

    Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins, which can be hard to come by on a plant-based diet.

    For example, vitamin B12 (needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, energy, and mood-regulation), is largely found in animal sources. It is something that those on a plant-based diet need to keep an eye on, as studies show that around 20% of us are deficient. And we also know that 65% of vegans and vegetarians don’t take a B vitamin supplement.[2]

    So in that case, choosing a cereal fortified with B vitamins would be a good option, if done wisely. By that I mean use your discretion and check the labels, as many brands of cereals are packed with sugar and additives. But you can strategically choose minimally processed foods using a whole foods mentality.

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    As a rule of thumb, if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t understand, or sound artificial, they probably are best avoided.

    Benefits of a Whole Food Diet

    In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”[3]

    A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.

    In fact, one review from 2019 stated that “diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally.”[4] This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.

    Whole Foods and the Gut

    Whole foods are loaded with fibers that are sometimes lost during processing or refinement. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut because aside from its traditional “roughage” reputation, it also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, providing a whole host of other benefits.

    They also provide a lot of variety, which the gut loves. The more variety, the better. So, even though you might fall in love with certain recipes, it’s important to mix up the kinds of whole foods you eat to maintain a healthy gut. Aim for 30 different whole foods each week. It’s easier than you think!

    Whole Foods and the Brain

    The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best is—you guessed it—a whole, unprocessed food.

    In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimer’s.[5]

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    Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:[6]

    • Oily fish
    • Nuts
    • Eggs
    • Berries
    • Broccoli
    • Whole grains

    Is It Easy to Follow a Whole Food Diet?

    Once you’ve got your head around having “ingredients” rather than “ready-to-eat” things in your kitchen cupboards, it’s actually very easy. The only issue is the lifestyle and habit changes that come along with it.

    It is very likely that for many people, following a totally, religiously whole food diet may be unattainable at least some of the time. For example, there are days where you don’t get time to make your lunch or if you want to enjoy social eating. Similarly, people who have young children or who are working more than one job are unlikely to be able to follow a whole food diet all of the time.

    Sometimes, we put ourselves under pressure to be as perfect as we can with diets like this, which can lead to an eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is a preoccupation with healthy eating.

    This means that following a whole food diet, in principle, can be healthy and accessible for some people but not for everyone. It also means that those with previous disordered eating, as always, need to avoid any form of dietary restriction or rules around their diet.

    Is a Whole Food Diet Boring?

    Absolutely not! The beauty of this way of eating is that there are barely any recipes that are off-limits. If you can make it yourself using natural ingredients, then it counts. So, dig out your recipe books and get familiar with your spice cupboard.

    Here’s my advice if you’re just starting: stock up on coconut milk and canned tomatoes. You’ll use them all the time in sauces.

    Best Hacks for Sticking With a Whole Food Diet

    Here are some tips to help you stick with a whole food diet and develop this lifestyle.

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    1. Practice Batch Cooking

    Especially in the beginning, if you’ve been used to eating more convenience-based or packaged foods, you’re likely to feel like you spend the majority of your life in the kitchen. So, I’d suggest getting your cookbooks out and planning around five things to make per week. If you make double, or even triple portions depending on your household, you’ll have enough quantity to last several meals.

    For example, his could be homemade granola. Make it once, and that’s breakfast sorted for a week. Whole food diet ingredients like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, nuts, and seeds are all delicious, and great nutritional resources to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

    I also love to make big stews, sauces, and curries that can happily be reheated and added throughout the course of a few days.

    2. Make Your Own Convenience Foods

    Sticking to a new way of eating can be really difficult, especially for your willpower. So, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

    Pre-chop. Pre-chop. Pre-chop.

    If you’ve got a container of carrot sticks on hand or can happily munch on a few pieces of melon from the fridge, use those—it’s almost easier than grabbing something from a package. This can extend to your other vegetables, too. If you get your veg delivered or buy it from a market, choose a few things to slice after you wash them. That way, if you need a speedy lunch or a lazy dinner, it’ll be ready in minutes.

    Ready to Try a Whole Food Diet?

    If you’re looking to maximize your overall health, well-being, and vitality, I’d absolutely suggest a whole food diet. But, as with everything, it’s important to do what works for you and your own lifestyle.

    Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel – Restaurant Photographer via unsplash.com

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    Reference

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