We have all seen the countless advertisements for miracle weight loss tips, secrets, and diet plans (etc). And we’ve all shared in the disappointment when they end up being bogus. Weight loss myths are hard to avoid and can be even harder to not attempt. At SDS, we understand the temptation, but it’s time we go through the facts. And we’ll do that here in this weight loss guide.
What This Weight Loss Guide Will Go Through
As we mentioned, we plan on tackling some of the common weight loss myths, but we will also provide research-backed information for effective and healthy weight loss. As well as, a guide on ingredients for individuals looking for an effective fat burner to aid in their weight loss journey. Now without further ado, let’s get into the guide!
We’ve broken down the sections here so you can jump to the one that interests you most!
Before we can dive into the myths of the fitness world, we should define what we mean. By “Weight Loss Myths”, we are referring to the common misconceptions that are ultimately not true and yet often believed as true. Think of them as the old wives tales of the fitness world.
Should You Skip Breakfast?
It’s the most important meal of the day! But why?
Breakfast is your first meal of the day, it’s literally breaking your fast. However, the time you eat is less important than what you actually eat. Unless of course you’re doing intermittent fasting. But, the thing is neither eating breakfast or skipping breakfast have been found to aid in weight loss.
In fact, 10 studies looked at the effects of breakfast on total daily calorie intake, and after an average study length of two weeks, participants who ate breakfast consumed 260 calories more than those who didn’t. This debunks theories of binge eating as a cause of skipping breakfast. (1,2)
What it really comes down to is this, if you enjoy eating breakfast, then continue enjoying breakfast just make sure the foods you’re reaching for are healthy. But, you’re also free to experiment on your morning eating habits. You can try having water, tea, or coffee as your “breakfast” and saving your calorie dense meals for later in the day.
The intention of crash diets is to lose a lot of weight in the least amount of time. That definitely sounds ideal, but how do they actually work? And how do they affect you?
As you can imagine there are a ton of crash diets available. Some are strange and some are just unsafe and unhealthy. Crash diets can be highly restrictive, meaning consuming very little calories and little nutrients. Juice cleanses and detoxes, for example, severely limit you on nutrients.(3) This could result in simple ailments like fatigue or more severe ones like gastrointestinal issues and mental health problems.(4)
The good news is that your body naturally detoxifies you. Your liver and kidneys are responsible for cleaning toxins and wastes from your blood and separating out the useful nutrients to synthesize hundreds of biochemicals that your body needs for daily functioning. Your liver also activates and regulates important hormones. (5)
So let’s talk about functionality.
If you were to attempt a crash diet and successfully lose weight, the question becomes can you keep it off?
The likelihood of gaining weight back after crash dieting is higher than other diets (known as the Rebound Effect). This is because healthy habits haven’t been formed. So in this case, someone might attempt crash dieting again. This is where problems form. Repeated crash dieting has been linked to heart damage/disease, binge eating, low metabolism, multiple vitamin deficiencies, and more harmful conditions.(6)
Initial Weight Loss
This section isn’t a direct “myth”, rather it addresses a common misconstrued sentiment in weight loss, your initial weight loss. Generally, when an individual is losing a lot of weight very quickly, there is more water weight being lost than actual fat mass. Which is one of the reasons crash diets don’t really work.
The reality is body weight is not created equal. In fact, your body is around 60% water. (7) So it shouldn’t be a surprise if the first couple of pounds off on the scale are water-based.
But, why does this happen?
When you begin your weight loss regimen, you likely are doing a combination of restricting your diet and exercising. This can cause your body to search for sources of extra energy, usually going for glycogen. Glycogen is typically stored in the body with a lot of water.
So burning glycogen for energy releases the surrounding water. This plus the sweat from exercising contributes to the initial weight loss you see. But don’t worry, you are still losing fat as well. It’s just not as fast and abundant as you may have first thought. (8)
The anabolic window refers to the time period (30 to 40 mins) after a workout, when it’s supposedly ideal to eat or intake protein in order to help you build muscle. Without getting into too much detail here, unless you are training fasted (or haven’t eaten in a few hours) there isn’t going to be a notable increase in muscle protein synthesis.
Digestion is a long process. After you eat, it can take about six to eight hours for food to pass through your stomach and small intestine. So if you ate a pre workout meal, nutrients will still be circulating when you finish your last set. (9)
Do Fat Burners Work?
The answer to this question isn’t as simple as you may want, it depends on what you expect it to do. If you’re expecting to take a fat burner and drop tons of weight without having to do anything, we’re sorry to disappoint, but they can’t do all the work. A fat burner can be a great addition to aid weight loss, but that’s what it essentially is, an addition.
Like all supplements, it won’t replace the real work or dietary requirements necessary for your goal. What a fat burner actually does is help kick start lipolysis† (fat break down), increase energy†, improve focus and mood†, and manage appetite†.
And depending on your individual fat burner, some of these effects may be more prominent. So if you already have your ducks in row, a fat burner is a great addition to help promote weight loss. For more information on how fat burners aid weight loss click here.
This section is a little hefty. So we understand if you want to skip through some subsections. Below we have them listed, feel free to jump ahead!
So what is nutrition? Nutrition consists of providing your body the necessary food (and drink) for health and growth. Malnutrition, on the other, is improper nutrition, which can be caused by both over consumption or under consumption of nutrients.
The Basics On Metabolism
Before we go into specifics on diets, let’s discuss energy, otherwise known as calories, and metabolism. Metabolism is defined as the process by which your body converts food and drinks to energy. (10) Energy here is different from the energy you feel from drinking a caffeinated drink. This is the energy your body needs to perform all it’s functions; like breathing, circulating blood, transporting nutrients, and clearing out waste.
As you can imagine, your metabolism has a strong influence on your weight as well. Unfortunately, weight gain can be a complicated process, while it’s very possible your metabolism played a role in your weight gain or your struggle to lose weight there are likely other factors in the game as well. (10)
What role exactly does metabolism play in weight gain or weight loss?
For the most part, our metabolism is out of our control, in that we can’t mindfully change it (although this can be debated). The chemical reactions through which our metabolism produces energy is also how our body expends calories.
But, how calories are burned by our body can vary. Our body burns calories everyday, during everyday activities and at rest. How much calories are burned depends on the activity. (11)
Is weight gain or loss purely due to “calories in and calories out”?
As we mentioned, our metabolism is largely out of our control. This is because it is partly genetic. There are some genes that promote a faster metabolism and some that promote a slower metabolism. But, regardless of if your metabolism is fast or slow our bodies are designed to store excess fat cells.
So what this essentially comes down to is calories in vs calories out. If you’re eating and drinking more calories than your body expends, you’re likely to gain weight. Therefore if you’re expending more than you’re consuming, you’re likely to lose weight. (11)
Common Dietary Restrictions
It’s probably the worst part of being on a weight loss journey… feeling like you’re missing out because your diet/routine. Restrictions play a big role in overall weight loss, but at what point does restrictions do more harm than good?
Before we dive into the subcategories, let’s go over the difference between a restriction, diet, and a lifestyle. First and foremost, a restriction is defined as a reduction of a particular or total nutrient intake without causing malnutrition. (12)
Whereas a diet can be defined as consuming foods or special kinds of food for a specific goal or purpose. Finally, a dietary lifestyle can be defined as how one consumes food and drink for life.
So what’s the difference? Dietary restrictions are generally more specific than diets, but there can be crossover. However, diets are likely a short-term change in one’s lifestyles, while a dietary restriction can be something they need to restrict throughout life (like a peanut allergy).
The type of restrictions we are focusing on do not apply to individuals following the guidelines typically prescribed by physicians. These restrictions are oriented to promote weight loss, not typically to support a lifestyle change.†
Carb restricted diets generally put an emphasis on fats and proteins for your calorie sources, such as the ketogenic diet. Conversely, they limit starchy foods like grains, starchy vegetables, and fruit. Some of the benefits of this restriction include reducing risk factors for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. (13)
But are there concerns?
There can be. “Low Carb” is so vague that it really depends on how intensive your restriction is. The following are some general concerns that people tend to have regarding low carb diets.
- Cardiovascular Health
- Cognitive Health
Ketones are a chemical produced by the liver by converting fat into this acid (and other fatty acid). This generally happens when your body doesn’t have enough insulin to convert glucose to energy. This metabolic state is called ketosis. While this process happens naturally in the body, for those participating in low carb diets consisting of less than 50 grams of carbs a day, this is the goal.
But what’s the issue here?
The concern isn’t really ketosis, it gets confused with ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is a dangerous metabolic state that can be fatal and poses a higher risk in individuals with type 1 diabetes. In ketoacidosis, your bloodstream is essentially flooded with ketones and can result in making your blood acidic. (14)
Your heart health is one major area where the source of your carbs matter. Complex carbs like oats are broken down slowly, which are used for energy and stabilize blood sugar levels. But overly processed carbs that contain additives like sugar can be broken down very quickly, which can do a few negative things like be stored as fat and cause inflammation.
Additionally, the added sugar can lead to damage and inflammation in your arteries.(15)
So how does a low carb diet affect your heart health?
As you can imagine, carbs tend to be worrisome when they average on the high-end of your caloric consumption. So decreasing your overall carb intake may benefit you in more than one way. In a study done in 2014, the researchers found evidence to support that a low carbohydrate diet may aid in overall weight loss and decrease cardiovascular disease risk factors. (16)
However, it should be noted that not all carbs are created equal and “low carb” can be very vague. So, while some individuals benefit from low carbs, you should keep track on how you feel.
A common association with dieting is that with the reduction in calories there will be a reduction in cognitive function, which can be presented as irritability, lack of focus, inability to maintain attention, issues with memory, or other problems. However, in one 2019 study, an association between neurocognitive deficits and a high intake of carbs was linked. (17)
More importantly, these associations were discovered before overt obesity or metabolic disease onset. This indicates sub-clinical measures for both conditions that could be addressed by lifestyle changes to increase quality of life and aid in preserving cognitive function throughout lifespan. (17)
Even in very low carb diets, like the keto diet, there is evidence that this diet has a positive effect on mood and cognitive function (18).
How Does A Carb Restricted Diet Compare to:
As we’ve stated in other posts, there is no one-size-fits-all diet. So it’s important to test the waters with different diets to see which works best for your lifestyle. In this subsection, we’re going to compare the low carb restriction with the other common dietary restrictions.
Our first comparison is with low fat restrictions and low carb restrictions. There are a bunch of studies comparing the results of these forms of diets on different aspects of life from mood, overall weight loss, and even insulin secretion. But which is better and which should you try?
Believe it or not, for overall weight loss the general consensus between studies is that neither form of restriction is better. They are both equally effective in this area. (19,20,21,22) That doesn’t mean there are no differences though.
One study found evidence that a low fat diet may improve psychological mood better than a low carb diet. But working memory and speed processing had similar effects. (19)
In contrast, some individuals feel that a low fat diet can be less fulfilling and this may result in sabotaging your weight loss by splurging on calorie dense foods that are highly processed. (23)
Additionally, a low carb diet may get results faster, but how maintainable these results are long-term is up for debate. Interestingly, in one 2018 study, they found that those on a low fat diet reported a daily average fat intake of 57 grams; those on low-carb ingested about 132 grams of carbohydrates per day after a 12-month period.
The average fat consumption for the participants before the study started was around 87 grams a day, and average carbohydrate intake was about 247 grams. (22)
At the start of the experiment, each group was told to limit their daily carbohydrate or fat intake to just 20 grams. After the second month, the researchers instructed the groups to make small adjustments as needed, (5-15 grams of fat or carbs gradually), aiming to reach a balance they believed they could maintain for the rest of their lives. (22)
What does this mean?
Well comparatively, both diets can influence change for the rest of your life and that both restrictions may be manageable long-term. However, the biggest takeaway from the study, is that the weight loss from both groups wasn’t significantly different. Meaning, the fundamentals of weight loss remain the same: eat less sugar, eat less refined flour, and eat as many vegetables as possible. (23,24)
So how does this compare to restricting calories?
When you hear “low calories” what does that mean to you?
For some individuals, low calories equates to healthy and while it may be a healthier alternative to other options, they aren’t always great.
Let’s go back to what a calorie is. A calorie is a unit of energy (25), so you may also hear a low calorie diet being referred to as an energy restricted diet. But, unlike the criteria of the other restrictions we’ve gone over, this style of diet is fairly simple.
This is because instead of focusing on a specific macro-nutrient to reduce, you’re reducing your total intake of calories. This can allow individuals to have a more balanced diet while still fulfilling satiation (feeling full). (26) However, this kind of diet (like all diets) has it’s critiques.
For starters, without focusing on any element of macro-nutrient, individuals partaking in a low calorie diet may opt for low calorie/low nutrition foods. Which may aid in initial weight loss, but may not result in maintainable weight loss.
Additionally, “low calorie” is vague just like “low carb” and “low fat”. Without a set guideline “low” can turn to “very low” and this can result in deficiencies in nutrients and other health problems if not addressed properly. (26)
Another critique questions whether simply reducing calories or portions is enough for successful and maintainable weight loss. Researchers generally agree individuals should focus more so on the nature of the foods being consumed rather than just reducing calories.
This could mean putting a greater focus on macro-nutrients, energy density, and glycemic load may help to prevent energy compensation. (27)
What does this mean?
When comparing both these dieting styles, you’re likely to get some results. The question becomes how efficiently is that done through a low carb diet VS a low calorie diet and which is more maintainable for the individual. The thing is when participating in a low carb diet, you are likely inadvertently also eating a low calories diet.
This may contribute to why those participating in a low carb diet may lose body weight faster than those who consume a higher level of carbs. However, there is no diet that is suitable for everyone, it has to be individualized to you in order to sustain the weight loss. (26)
The Truth About Macro-nutrients
At this point, we almost entirely demonized carbs. But, there is importance in carbohydrates, as well as all the macro-nutrients. In this section, we’re going to dive into how each macro-nutrient plays a role in weight loss.
We’ve already brushed up on some of the negative effects of carbohydrates on weight loss. But, now let’s focus on how healthy carbs can benefit your weight loss.
To begin, there are two forms of carbs: Simple and Complex. Simple carbs include sugars found in foods such as table sugar, honey, dairy products, fruit and fruit juice. While complex carbs refer to starches (think of bread, pasta, rice and some veggies like corn).
The thing is all carbs are not equal, though, they are all broken down and converted to glucose. Some carbs go through this process faster than others, which also raises blood sugar faster.
Having a good control of your blood sugar level is important for maintenance of weight loss and especially important for diabetics. Because as blood sugar levels increase the pancreas releases insulin. (28)
But, we also have to look at the fiber content of the foods we’re picking at. Low-fiber foods influence your blood sugar levels faster than high-fiber foods. Additionally, this means you’re likely to feel hungry again sooner. (29)
When you’re not eating enough carbs, your body will switch gears and attempt to use fat or protein as energy.
Using fat for energy instead of carbs is the basis for low-carb diets such as the keto diet. While using protein may not be sufficient as protein is a “building block” for growth and repair. (28)
However, you don’t have to ditch carbs all together for weight loss. In fact, there is evidence that high carb/high fiber and low fat diets are also effective for weight loss. This style of dieting puts an emphasis on increasing the intake of dietary fiber, fruits, and vegetables, while also reducing overall calorie intake. (30)
So how does fat aid in weight loss?
When you think of fats, you may think of red flags and feel the urge to stay away. But, fats are not your enemy! Like carbohydrates, there are different types of fat. Dietary fats (lipids) can be in the form of triacylglycerols (also called triglycerides), phospholipids, and sterols.
Triacylglycerols are what we commonly think of when we think of fats in food, fried foods, vegetable oil, butter, etc,. Whereas Phospholipids are important for building protective barriers (membrane) around cells. Finally, an example of a sterol is cholesterol, which plays a large role in cell membrane and synthesis of sex hormones and vitamins.
But, we can break down this classification even more. Within the triacylglycerols we also have saturated fat, mono/polyunsaturated fat, trans-fat, and omega-3 fatty acids.
The fats you want to limit in your diet are the saturated and trans-fat foods. Saturated fats come mostly from animal products and can raise both your HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Consuming a large percentage of saturated fats can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. (31)
Trans-fat, on the other hand, are mostly found in oils through food processing. These fats can increase total blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, but lower HDL cholesterol. Also, increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease. (31)
The other fats are considered healthier, this includes the mono/polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.
Monounsaturated fats include a variety of food and oil. What makes it healthier is that these fats can aid in reducing your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Whereas polyunsaturated fats consist of mostly plant-based foods and oils. But, share the same potential benefit.
Finally we have omega-3 fatty acids which are mostly found in fatty fish and krill. Omega-3 fatty acids may aid in improving heart health and reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. (31)
When including fats back into your diet, naturally we mean go for the healthier fats. This style of dieting resembles the Mediterranean diet where most of the calories are sourced from fats.
In one clinical intervention, they found that diets which replaced saturated fat with protein or especially vegetable unsaturated fats (principally olive oil), it resulted in greater improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors compared to the carbohydrate-rich diet. (32)
In a separate study, it was found that consuming avocados daily in addition to a moderate-fat diet, resulted in significantly greater reductions in LDL-C and total cholesterol than either the lower-fat or moderate-fat diet (without the daily avocado).(33)
So what can we gather from this?
The type of fats an individual consumes is more important for overall health and weight loss/maintenance than the amount of fats. (34)
Have you noticed that proteins are almost never restricted in weight loss diets? There’s a good reason for that. High protein diets can actually aid in weight loss and maintenance. More-so, it can aid in improving appetite and reducing cardio-metabolic risk factors. (35)
Dietary protein can aid in decreasing ghrelin, the hunger hormone. This helps you stay feeling full for longer, which means less snacking. It’s important to note these effects are not affected by choice of protein and are present in lean or overweight individuals. (36)
Additionally, because ghrelin stimulates cortisol levels, by decreasing ghrelin protein may also aid in decreasing cortisol. (37) Outside of its effects on appetite, protein may also promote energy expenditure (burning calories), thus increasing thermogenesis. And when it comes to recovering after a workout, high protein intake stimulates protein synthesis and turnover, this may induce a small suppression of protein breakdown. (36)
So what happens when your protein intake is low?
For starters, one study comparing the effects of a high protein diet and low protein diet found the low protein diet promoted a positive energy balance, while the high protein diet prevented this.(38) Meaning, the thermogenic, calorie-burning effects from a high protein diet is not present at low levels of protein intake.
But is a high protein diet safe?
For most individuals there isn’t an increased risk of health problems, short-term. However, the effects of a long-term high protein diet are still being studied. Some diets that focus on increasing protein intake and decreasing carbohydrate intake may result in problems such as bad breath, headache, constipation, and nutritional deficiencies.
And if you’re increasing your intake of red meat and full fat dairy products, you may also increase your risk of cardiatric issues. Additionally, if you have pre-existing kidney function problems, a high protein diet may worsen these problems. (39)
Our biological clock and our circadian rhythm are linked with our feeding times. So if you eat at the same time every day, your body gets hungry, digests, and “stands-by” for the next meal during those times.
But, if you throw your body a curve ball and binge eat one night or skip a meal or snack a little at night when you normally are sleeping, your body may not be the happiest. For example, the next day you can wake up feeling bloated and sluggish.
However, if you continue doing this every night after, your body will adjust its clock. This consequently means feeling sluggish and bloated or other symptoms during the day time when you want to be awake and alert. (40)
Believe it or not the time you eat isn’t the only thing that can change your digestive system and metabolism. Consistent unhealthy eating can confuse your body with the overwhelming amount of sugar and fat being consumed and stored, which is damaging to your overall health. However, when you eat healthier foods like fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains–you can reset your body’s clock. (41)
So how does this affect intermittent fasting?
Intermittent Fasting (IF)
For those who may not be aware, intermittent fasting refers to a weight loss approach that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. These fasting periods can range from 8-16 hours or more. This style of dieting doesn’t intentionally focus on the foods you eat, only the time. Intuitively, it makes sense that this would be beneficial for weight loss.
When we eat, our bodies use sugar to fuel our cells with energy. However, when our cells aren’t using these broken down sugar it is stored. So when you’re not snacking throughout the day and only eating during a limited time, our insulin levels will go down and fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. (42)
Although IF doesn’t intentionally put an emphasis on what foods you eat, you may still want to watch out for sugar and refined grains. After all the idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat, which can be difficult if you’re instinctively reaching for high-carb foods. (43)
IF is also known as the circadian rhythm fasting approach.
This is because the majority of your fasted state will be during your sleep. As you can imagine, if you sleep for 8 hours a day and are fasting for a 10 hour period, you only have to restrain from eating/drinking for 2 hours. In fact, some individuals may be already participating in this format. Meaning, if you’re not seeing the results you want, you may want to increase your fasted periods.
Consequently, if you choose to carry out most of your fasted period during the day time and interrupt your sleep with feeding, there are some issues you run into. For starters, you may experience a reduction in insulin sensitivity and you may increase your C-reactive protein (CRP). Your CRP is a sensitive marker of inflammation that predicts increased risk of coronary heart disease. (44)
However, when your eating period aligns with your circadian rhythm there are some positive effects. This can include reduced blood pressure, oxidative stress, and appetite, and increased insulin sensitivity. (44)
This next section focuses on the journey itself. If you’ve attempted to lose weight before and were unsuccessful, chances are the reason why is going to be covered here.
Unfortunately progress isn’t linear. The journey is going to have ups and downs, and moreover your weight will too. But, sometimes it feels like you’re not making any progress and the number on the scale is staying the same, this is a weight loss plateau.
Why do they happen?
Piggy-backing from previous subsections, your initial weight loss is likely to be from depleting your glycogen stores of its water. When losing the water weight slows down, you may feel as though your progress is coming to a halt. Whereas it’s actually just starting!
Additionally, when you start to lose weight, you can lose both fat and muscle mass. This ratio can depend on how you’re dieting and exercising. But the more muscle mass being lost can be detrimental to your fat loss. This is because one of the roles muscle plays in the body is boosting metabolism.
So when you start to lose muscle mass, you’re burning less calories than when you first started the journey. (45)
How do you bounce back from a plateau?
You have to change up your routine! Realistically you have two options. You can either reduce the overall calories you’re eating or increase the amount of physical activity you’re doing to make up for the reduction in your metabolism. (45)
The other blimp in your weight loss progress can be in the form of gaining weight back. There can be many factors adding to the weight regain. From rebounding after a crash diet to not sustaining your healthy habits.(27)
However, weight regain isn’t always bad. As you may remember, body weight isn’t created equal. So your gain could be fat mass, water mass, or even muscle mass. The role of fat and muscle are very different and so does the look of it on the body. So while 10lbs of fat may have an individual physically looking more soft, 10lbs of muscle would look more hard and sculpted.
So how do you stop or prevent the weight regain?
The secret here is that there is no secret. It’s all about consistency. But, being consistent doesn’t mean without alterations. As we mentioned above, as you lose weight, you may lose some muscle too. Therefore there is a reduction in the calories being burned by your body.
So to combat this, either your diet needs to be shifted or your workouts need to be more intense. However, preventing weight regain isn’t the same as weight loss. At this point, you’re not aiming to lose more weight, just keep it off. This is called maintenance.
And there are some strategies you may find helpful during this stage:
- Adjusting Eating Habits
- Your Environment
- Support Systems
Going back to consistency, you don’t have to continue the exact same routine you had when losing weight, but it’s essential you don’t go back to before you started.
Luckily, while this is very important, it’s not (statistically) the main cause of weight regain, although it’s generally thought to be. In fact, self-control related weight regain tends to only explain 1 to 4 percent of the variance in body mass index (BMI) in some studies. (46)
Self-control does, however, play a huge role in the psychology of weight loss. For example, when in the process of dieting, if you have tempting foods in your kitchen you may have a difficult time resisting it and feel negatively to yourself for not being able to resist. Even if that temptation is resisted 9 out of 10 times, you may feel like it wrecked your diet and your will power is weaker because of it.(46)
However, whether you resist temptation 4 out of 10 times or 9 out of 10 times, it doesn’t erase your success. The best way to help avoid falling into temptation is not allow it within view. So when beginning your journey, in the midst of your journey or even in maintenance, clear out your kitchen. If it doesn’t fit your regimen get rid of it (donate it). And when shopping for groceries, don’t buy it or shop hungry! (46)
Another way to self-monitor is keep track of your journey. This can be through a food diary, exercise log, or an app that does both. Your job is to stay consistent and make logging what you’re eating and doing a habit. This way if there are blimps in progress you can clearly look at what the issue is by your logs. (47)
Believe it or not there are eating habits not associated with the food on your plate that promote weight gain. Naturally, if you’re participating in these habits, you may want to reconsider. The first habit is not eating at home/not making your meals at home. The idea here is that you want to have control over what you’re eating and the portions on your plate.
When you live a busy lifestyle it can be easy to opt for meal plans that deliver your meals to your door and some are great with letting you personalize your plan. The issue with most of these plans are that no matter how personalized you make it, they’re still shoving your diet plan into a one-size-fits-all box for your selected preferences (not to mention they can be pricey).
Additionally, in the case of let’s say a global pandemic, if you’re relying on your meals to be delivered, and they can no longer be safely delivered, you may find a difficult time adjusting to cooking your meals on your own. The solution here is simple, whether you’ve made a habit of relying on meal delivery services or simply eating-out, it can be worth your time (and friendlier on your wallet) to begin making meals at home. (47)
This includes your home, work, and gym environments. It’s important for you to make adjustments where needed (and where possible) to your different environments to facilitate and motivate your goals. This can be not purchasing food items that tempt you or avoiding areas that hold temptation.
For example, if you know your office or place of work has a vending machine or kitchen that serves something you find tempting, try suggesting to management to offer healthier alternatives or just avoiding it all together.
As some places in the world begin to recover from the global pandemic, there are still tons of people still affected by it. This can be from gyms not reopening yet or being an essential worker and not having time to do the healthy habits you worked so hard to create. In this case, you need to create a space where you can do something. It’s easier said than done for sure. But, the idea here is to continue attributing to healthy habits.
So that can be going for a run, curling milk jugs, or doing some squats in place. Another thing you can do is opt for alternative forms of transportation when possible. Such as walking or biking to work, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. (47)
Another crucial part of weight loss and weight maintenance is making sure everyone in your immediate support system is on board. That means making sure those that live with you understand your goals and try their best to not tempt you astray.
Unfortunately, we can’t always control our support systems. So you have to make sure you accommodate to what they are willing to do.
You may not be able to make the whole family go on a low-carb diet, but you can try requesting a cabinet in the kitchen for all your goods. That way when you enter the kitchen, you’re not shuffling through temptation to get to your items, you can make a beeline to your cabinet.
Additionally, you’ll want to make sure when you go out for a night, those around you take into account your new dietary restrictions when suggesting a restaurant. This doesn’t mean showing up to the restaurant with a tupperware for your food.
It means not frequenting the places you know will encourage you to binge eat or just make bad choices. However, if it is a “cheat meal”, you may want to have those around you help encourage you to not make the cheat meal into a cheat day.
Welcome to the training sections of this guide. In this section, we plan to go over different training styles and their effect on calories, how muscle is formed and loss, and how stress affects weight loss.
First, however, let’s go over a common entity involved when individuals attempt to lose weight; you cannot out-train a bad diet. And if you’re trying to do that, you should know first hand that progress is at a significantly slower rate than those dieting and exercising. Why?
Dieting alone generally results in greater weight loss compared to exercising alone. But, combining the two results in greater weight loss than either alone. (48) Going back to our introduction on metabolism, weight loss, when oversimplified, comes down to calories in VS calories out.
So if you continue eating an unhealthy diet that does not promote weight loss and are only exercising, you have to exercise significantly more intensively to burn the same amount of calories as someone doing both.
To help put it in prospective, a single pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories. And one Big Mac Meal from McDonald is roughly 1,100 calories or a small 10-inch standard, hand-tossed pizza from Domino’s is roughly 1,140 calories. Whereas a whole caesar salad with chicken from Panera Bread is roughly 460 calories give or take 100 calories depending on dressing.
Meanwhile, the average recommended calorie intake for individuals looking to lose weight is around 1,500-2000 calories daily. So now let’s go into training and specifically how different training styles burn calories.
Does One Training Style Burn More Calories?
You may see while researching training styles a specific terminology tossed around often. We’re referring to moderate VS vigorous exercise and anaerobic VS aerobic exercise. But, what does it mean and what does it look like?
When you’re participating in moderate exercise, you likely can feel your heart rate and breathing increasing, but you can also carry out a conversation. This is also what aerobic exercise would feel like, light activity you can sustain over a long period of time.
This can look like: (49)
- Briskly walking
- Doing everyday activities like yard work
- Causally biking
However, when doing vigorous exercise, you can feel your heart rate and breathing increase substantially, and you wouldn’t be able to carry out a conversation. This is anaerobic exercise and is likely limited to short periods of time or bursts.
This can look like: (49)
- Playing competitive sports
For weight loss, you’ll need to participate in high physical activity, meaning combining both moderate and vigorous exercise into your day-to-day life. (49) But, when it comes to vigorous exercise, which style of training should you stick to?
Cardio consists of anything that raises your heart and breathing rate and improves the function of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. When it comes to weight loss, scientists state that you can burn more calories per workout session with cardio than in resistance training. (50)
However, this depends on the type of cardio you’re doing and for the duration. For example, a 154 lb person could burn close to 600 calories with an hour of vigorous running/jogging. But, that same individual may burn a little more than 400 calories from vigorous weight lifting. And individuals that weigh more than 154 lb are likely to burn more calories per hour. (51)
So why do resistance training then?
Well resistance training helps your burn more calories–everyday. As we’ve mentioned in other sections, during weight loss, you are likely to burn off fat, water, and some muscle mass. This is important because losing muscle mass means reducing your metabolism.
So to combat this, you should do some resistance training to build your muscle mass. More muscle mass means burning calories even at rest. (52)
So where does High Intensity Interval Training fit (HIIT) into this?
For starters, HIIT involves short bursts of very intense exercise alternated with low-intensity recovery periods. These types of workouts tend to be between 10-30 mins long. (55) In a study comparing the effects of cardio, weight training, and HIIT, the researchers found that HIIT had burner 25-30% more calories than the other forms of exercise. (56) However, another study shows that traditional cardio and HIIT may affect weight loss to a similar extent. (57)
So What Should You Do?
Mix it up! But, more importantly find a style of exercise that you feel you can be consistent with. Whether that be from biking, jogging, HIIT, or weight lifting. Overall, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends doing at least 150 mins a week of exercise a week. (58)
Stress is a powerful thing. It affects your whole body and even affects your weight. Whether that be weight loss or weight gain depends person-to-person.
Stress-Related Weight Loss
When you’re stressed, your body may respond by going into an acute-stress response, or commonly known as “Fight, Flight, or Freeze”. To combat this perceived threat, your body will also release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
The adrenaline helps your body prepare for vigorous activity, resulting in appetite suppression. The cortisol, however, signals to your body to temporarily stop non-essential activities like digestion. (59)
Because of this, chronic stress can lead to digestive problems like heartburn, constipation, and stomach pain. Which can lead to symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). (60)
The result of these issues may lead to changes in your eating habits and even reduce your desire to eat as your mind may be overwhelmed with other thoughts. This will lead to unintentional weight loss.
Additionally, coping mechanisms like exercising to combat stress may lead to more calories being burned than consumed. Provided that some weight loss may not be cause for concern, chronic stress and weight loss can lead to other health ailments such as, chronic headaches and migraines, irritability, sleep issues, chest pains, and more. (61) This is when you should speak to a doctor regarding your stress.
Stress-Related Weight Gain
On the other side of things, stress can also make you gain or retain weight.(62) In this scenario, your body’s metabolism is slowing as a result of stress. And you may even experience an increase in your appetite. In one study, women who reported one or more stressors during the previous 24 hours burned 104 fewer calories than non-stressed women. Burning 104 calories less could result in weight gain of up to 11lbs a year. (63)
As you can imagine, both stress and weight gain can have their own side effects. And when you combine the two, some of typically side effects can include; high blood pressure, diabetes, joint pain, decrease in lung and respiratory function, and other serious health problems.
Going back to cortisol, as we mentioned cortisol is a hormone that is released by the body during physical or physiological stress.In addition to signaling to the body what is and isn’t essential, cortisol has been linked to Body Mass Index (BMI). Researchers indicate that higher levels of cortisol is associated with a higher BMI. Specifically, high levels of cortisol have been linked to carrying visceral fat around the waist. (64)
How To Combat Stress
There are a ton of ways that you can tackle stress and promote an overall better lifestyle. However, first and foremost, you need to address the thing(s) making you stressed to begin with. This can be through seeing a health care profession or by being mindful about your daily activities and habits.
For example, if you consume caffeine or stimulants often, you may be experiencing stress and anxiety symptoms from this. You can try reducing your consumption of these products to assess if it’s adding to your symptoms. Another potentially great way to combat stress and anxiety is through physical activity. This can be through your workout, going for a walk, or even household things like gardening. (65)
Welcome to the final section in our weight loss guide. In this section, we’re going to go over the kinds of supplements that can aid in weight loss (spoiler: it’s more than just a fat burner!), some key active ingredients that aid in different aspects of weight loss, and finally how to shop for supplements.
Here we may link some noteworthy products that relate to each subsection. But, please keep in mind that every individual can and will have their own individual experience using these products. So, if you try something and it doesn’t work the way you expected, don’t lose hope!
And if you need help narrowing the search, send us an email! We’re more than happy to give you a recommendation!
Supplements That Help Weight Loss
As you can imagine there are a ton of supplements that can help in your weight loss journey. But, before we can dive into the categories, we need to discuss the basics of what a supplement can do.
Unfortunately, supplements can’t do it all. You’ll need to have some exercise and diet plan to see optimal results. After all, supplements are meant to supplement your lifestyle. This means without getting a head start on other aspects of weight loss, you’ll likely feel disappointed and discouraged to continue.
Additionally, like most medications, you may not see immediate results from your supplements. Depending on what your chosen supplement(s) is you may need to give them several days or a couple of weeks to start to feel benefits.
It’s only fitting to start with the most common weight loss aid. So what is a fat burner?
Provided by the name, fat burners are supplements that can aid in burning fat. It does this through boosting 4 common mechanisms; Appetite Suppression, Thermogenesis, Energy, and Mood/Focus.
The first mechanism, appetite suppression, is influenced by a wide range of ingredients, which we’ll cover later on. By increasing appetite suppression or satiety (feeling full), you’re less likely to overeat, snack, and in some cases, crave sugar. (66) Which makes sense as to how it can increase overall weight loss.
The next mechanism, thermogenesis, is related to increasing the amount of calories your body is burning (while working out and at rest). This is particularly useful for when you’re beginning to plateau in your weight loss due to changes in your metabolism. (67)
The third mechanism, energy, is important for several reasons. For starters, when dieting and exercising, you’re likely to feel sluggish and overall more tired due to the increased physical activity and decrease in calories. So getting a boost of energy can aid in making sure you’re consistent.
But, increasing energy is also important because stimulants affect weight loss in a few ways. There’s the obvious increasing energy, but it also plays a role in appetite suppression, thermogenesis, and mood/focus. (68)
Finally, we have mood and focus. Again this function is going to aid in keeping you motivated and consistent. If you’re low in energy and feeling groggy from being on a diet, you’re not likely to continue your new healthy habits. So by adding in some mood and focus boosters, you can maintain the level of productivity you’re aiming to complete each day. (69)
If you want to look into some of the Best Fat Burners of 2020 make sure to checkout our blog!
If you jumped to the supplement section without going through the nutrition one, you may want to review the protein discussion to fully understand the importance of protein for weight loss. You can jump back up HERE.
With the basis of protein understood, now let’s go into the different kinds of protein supplements available. The most common is Whey Protein, this protein is derived from milk and therefore not the optimal choice for vegans or individuals with a lactose allergy. Within the category of Whey Protein, there are sub-categories: Whey Concentrate, Isolate Whey, and Hydrolyzed Whey.
What differentiates these types of whey protein is the purity of the protein. Where Hydrolyzed whey is the most pure form of whey protein and whey concentrate is the least. But, does the purity of whey protein matter to you?
Maybe! If you’re just looking to add some extra protein to your diet, then a whey concentrate is perfectly fine for you. However, if you’re aiming to get a protein that is low in carbs, sugar, and calories you may want to pick an isolated or hydrolyzed whey. (70)
What about non-whey protein?
If you’re not able to digest or just prefer non-dairy based protein, there are other options. First up we have Beef Protein and Plant-Based Protein.
Some research indicates Beef Protein may not be as bio-available as whey protein, meaning not all the protein would be absorbed in your body. (70) But, other recent research indicates that beef protein is as effective as whey protein. (71) This means it should promote the same benefits just as well. On the other hand, users have exclaimed that the taste of beef protein isn’t always as great as whey.
Next we have the plant-based protein, which includes a variety of proteins from soy, pea, brown rice, and more. Commonly, you’ll see these proteins as a blend of several different plants to make complete protein. Typically, plant-based and vegan protein doesn’t contain as much protein per gram as other types of protein, though they can yield the same benefits. (72)
Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein, but beyond that amino acids may be able to promote weight loss. (73) There are three types of amino acids, essential, non-essential, and conditional. Because essential cannot be made by the body, they must come from an external source. There are 9 essential amino acids, which can be taken individually, in food, or even as supplements (EAAs).
There are 11 non-essential amino acids, these amino acids are made by the body. Finally, there are the conditional amino acids. These amino acids are considered non-essential unless in times of illness or stress. As you can imagine, this means there will be cross over between the conditional amino acids and non-essential. (74)
Weight Loss Aids
We promised you there was more to weight loss supplements than fat burner, and here is where we get into it. What we’re referring to here are products that either gender can benefit from. Unlike in prohormones which is not recommended for women. These products are going to help promote either lean muscle growth, fat metabolism, balancing hormones, or a combination of it all.
For more information on prohormones, make sure to checkout our guide HERE.
Lean Muscle Builders
“Lean Muscle Builders” is actually kind of vague, it can be as simple as protein/amino acids or as strategic as a non-hormonal anabolic agent. Seeing as we’ve gone through some of the more simple topics, let dive into supplements you probably haven’t heard of yet!
Our first product-type is actually a non-hormonal anabolic agent. We do have a guide where we dive into laxogenin deeper and compare it to other plant anabolic compounds, so if you’re interested in more info, click HERE.
Laxogenin is referred to as a plant steroid, which can sound a bit intimidating at first. Especially because plant steroids affect plants the way steroids affect humans, they promote growth. But, when we consume laxogenin the benefits are as direct. In fact, most users notice joint pain relief as the most prominent effect.
Yet, it does have some benefits you probably won’t feel:
- Aiding In Muscle Recovery†
- Promoting An Increase In Protein Synthesis †
- May Have Adaptogenic Properties†
- Assists In Fat Loss†
- Helps Reduces LDL “Bad” Cholesterol†
- May Improve Thyroid Function†
- May Limit Protein Breakdown†
Based on that list alone, laxogenin may seem like the magic pill we’ve all been searching for. But it’s important to keep in mind that not every benefit listed will be experienced by every individual. While it’s not a “new” ingredient/product, the research following it isn’t very telling. (75)
Other Plant Compounds
Laxogenin isn’t the only plant compound that can aid in your weight loss journey. For starters, we have epicatechins. Epicatechin is a flavonoid found in dark chocolate that can increase nitric oxide in the body. Which we can visibly see during our workouts by the pump we get from lifting weights. But outside of the pump, nitric oxide also promotes blood flow meaning an increase in oxygen and nutrients.
This aids in improving endurance, power, recovery, and growth. In addition to this, epicatechins can also inhibit Myostatin and therefore up-regulate Follistatin. Myostatin inhibits/suppresses muscle growth, while Follistatin increases it. So, by inhibiting Myostatin, you’re increasing your potential muscle growth. (76)
An adaptogen can come in many forms, from plants to even vitamins. They can aid in helping your body resist stress or help maintain homeostasis. One way it does this is by maintaining cortisol levels. Cortisol, as we’ve mentioned, is a stress hormone that can:
- Increase high blood pressure
- Promote fatigue
- Promote muscle weakness and breakdown
- Increased bloat
- Change, such as feeling irritable or low.
- Increase weight gain
- And more
Although adaptogens in general can aid in reducing cortisol and stress, different types of adaptogens may have different benefits. (77) And we’ll be going through popular ones in the ingredient section!
Ingredients To Look For
In this section, we’re going into the labels! Here you’ll find some common, popular, and effective ingredients that you should look for when searching for a weight loss supplement. This list may grow or shrink as time and research progress! Please also keep in mind that while some of these ingredients are effective for some individuals, your own experiences may vary.
Our first section is stimulant. As you may remember when we discussed fat burners, stimulants dive into several “fat burning” categories:
- Energy Promoting
- Appetite Suppressing
- Mood/Focus Enhancing
- Thermogenic boosting
While most stimulants will dive into each category, some are better known for specific categories.
To start off, let’s list some of the most popular stimulants used in weight loss supplements:
- Eria Jarensis Extract
- Bitter Orange Extract (Synephrine)
- Yohimbe/Yohimbine HCL
- 2-Aminoisoheptane (DMHA)
- Senegalia Berlandieri
- Ephedra Extract
If you start your day motivated and ready to stick to your plan, but slowly fall back into the same routine by the end, you may benefit from an energy-focused product. These can include fat burners like Lipodrene, Methyldrene Elite, and Arson. Or even pre workouts like Lipo 6 Dynamix.
Because stimulants are prevalent in other categorizes there will be some cross over while we go through the list. But we’ll make sure to indicate when an ingredient is non-stimulating.
Thermogenics as we’ve mentioned are ingredient that aid your body in burning calories, therefore can help “boost” your metabolism.
Some popular ingredients include stimulants like:
- Ephedra Extract
- Eria Jarensis Extract
- Bitter Orange Extract (Synephrine)
- Yohimbe/Yohimbine HCL
And some non-stimulants like:
- Capsaicin (Pepper Extract)
- Rauwolfia Serpentina
- Grains of Paradise
- Citrus Extracts
If you’re currently working out and eating healthier, but not seeing results, you’d likely benefit the most from a thermogenic. Some popular thermogenics include Lipodrene Xtreme, Hellfire, or Black Mamba.
Mood and focus boosters are ingredients include a range of ingredients. You may find them in fat burners, pre workouts, sleep aids, or by themselves!
Some popular stimulant mood/focus boosters include:
- Eria Jarensis Extract
- Bitter Orange Extract (Synephrine)
Some non-stimulant mood and focus booster include:
- N-Methylphenethylamine (NMPEA)
- Huperzine A
- Alpha GPC
- Dimethylethanolamine Bitartrate (DMAE)
Is the desire to get fit and healthy there, but when it comes to starting, you feel less motivated or grumpy? In this situation, you may benefit from a fat burner with mood-boosting ingredients like Oxy Xtreme, Kanna Rush, or Synedrex.
Diuretics are products and ingredients that help your body expel fluids. In some cases, these products are recommended for individuals with hypertension. Due to the function of diuretics, you may lose water weight and bloating. However, it is essential that while taking a diuretic you increase your water intake to maintain hydration. You may also want to consider taking a BCAA or EAA supplement to maintain electrolyte balance.
Again stimulants do have some natural diuretic properties. Some popular ones include:
- Green Tea Extract
- Guarana Seed Extract
Some non-stimulant diuretics include:
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
- Hawthorn/Hawthorn berries
- Horsetail extract
- Juniper plant
- Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
All stimulants will help with increasing appetite suppression to some extent. However some popular stimulants include:
- Ephedra Extract
- Cocoa Extract (Theobroma Cocoa)
Some non-stimulant appetite suppressants include:
- Garcinia Cambogia
- Hoodia Gordonii
- Caralluma Extract
- Cayenne Pepper Extract
- Griffonia Seed Extract
- Stearoyl Vanillylamide
These next ingredients can help increase protein synthesis and thus helps with building muscle, recovery, and boosting metabolism.
- Protein (whey, beef, or plant)
- Zinc, Magnesium, and B6 (ZMA)
For insight on the most popular protein and BCAAs supplements checkout our page of the Top 10 Protein and Top 10 BCAA Powders. Products like Creatine, Beta-Alanine, Glutamine, Arginine, and Citrulline can be taken on their own, but are also often featured together in a Pre Workout or Pump Complex. Likewise, you can take ZMA as a product or it components (Zinc, Magnesium, and B6) as separates.
Unfortunately, sometimes our bodies are the reason we’re struggling to lose the last couple of pounds. In this case, you may benefit from ingredients that target thyroid function like:
- 3, 3 Diiodothyronine
Fortunately there are products directed to improving and maintaining thyroid function like Thyroid Energy. And even fat burners with ingredients that promote thyroid function like Paraburn and Thyrene. Or you can always opt for taking Iodine, Tyrosine, Selenium, Zinc, or Kelp on their own! Copper, however, is generally taken in a multi-vitamin like Vitagen, Multi, or Testovite.
As we’ve mentioned, cortisol is the stress hormone that’s released when our bodies are reacting to a perceived threat. But, when we are no longer perceiving a threat and our cortisol levels aren’t lowering this could be an indicator for an issue. Luckily there are ingredients that target and help support cortisol.
- Pantothenic Acid
- Chromium Chelavite
- Ashwagandha Extract
- Rhodiola Rosea Extract
- Panax Ginseng
- Glycyrrhetinic Acid
Much like the other ingredient categorizes, these cortisol aids can be found in blends like Super Cortisol Support, Cortibloc, and Adrenal Care. Or on they’re own as adaptogens like Relora, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Panax Ginseng.
Special Plant Compounds
Plant compounds can vary from muscle building compounds, adaptogens, and other ingredients that can aid in weight loss.
- Banaba Leaf Extract
- Ursolic Acid
- Ashwagandha Extract
- Holy Basil
- Rhodiola Rosea Extract
Finally, we have our plant compounds! You can find laxogenin on it’s own like in Laxogenin, Laxozone, and Anogenin, or in blends like Anavar and Dura Gains. You can also find laxogenin combined with epicatechins like in Myogrow and EpiSmash. Or you can take epicatechins alone like in Epicat. The next two ingredients, banaba leaf extract and ursolic acid, are actually the only ingredients in Recomp RX.
Wrapping It Up
This concludes our weight loss guide. Thank you for reading and if there’s a product you’d like us to review, an ingredient that you think needs further elaboration, or another blog idea you want to see in the future–send us an email here!
The intention of the information provided is for reference only and we are in no way providing medical advice or instruction. The information provided in this post is based on anecdotal information and available studies/reviews. While it is our goal to maintain and display accurate information, we can’t guarantee it represents the latest formulation of the product or information. Therefore, if you have any concerns, please visit the manufacturer’s website. Also, the information above is not a representation of our views at Same Day Supplements. Rather, these are the views and information provided by manufacturers and users. Also, the Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. Finally, the intention of these products is not to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.