Getting America healthy

04.10.13 |

Getting America Healthy is our number one goal…right?

The Take Shape For Life program is a unique multifaceted program that looks at the “complete” picture, the “big” picture.

There are numerous healthy habits that our clients incorporate on their path to Optimal Health.

As we all know, Dr. Anderson addresses these habits in the HOH. Part of helping our clients reach their personal health and wellness goals involves weight loss. Helping our clients get the most out of the 5 & 1 weight loss plan is a big part of what we do.

Getting to the bottom of the problem

There are three things that our clients should experience when in fat-burning: high energy, satiety and weight loss. So what do we do when a client complains of fatigue, slow weight loss, hunger? Well, of course, we want to figure why? What is causing my client to experience these symptoms? The answer is not always cut and dry, many things can contribute to these symptoms while following the 5 & 1 Plan.

  • Medications for blood pressure and diabetes can contribute to fatigue as can  not drinking enough water, skipping meals, not getting the full portion of your Lean & Green, compliance with the program and over exercising to name a few.
  • Hunger can be caused by a lot of the same things: low blood sugar, skipping meals or not eating everything on plan, eating foods not on the program, over exercising, and not getting the complete Lean & Green meal as mentioned previously.
  • Numerous things can contribute to slow weight loss on the 5 & 1 Plan: medications, medical history, compliance with the program, starting weight, age, gender, sodium intake, and exercise. Your client can ask their doctor if any of their medications can contribute to weight gain.


Of course, your role would be to support your clients, direct them to the tools that may help them, educating clients on the 5 & 1 Plan and making sure that they are following the program. Troubleshooting often uncovers the reason why are clients are struggling. We can then make recommendations without modifying the Plan.

Our first goal would be to have them follow the 5&1 Plan as this is our most successful, researched program.
There are, however, times when we may consider an alternative plan to the 5 & 1 Plan.

As a member of the Nutrition Support team I can say that we have, on occasion, received calls related to fatigue, hunger and even slower weight loss. These symptoms are often associated with those “big exercisers” or those burning more calories than we are consuming, in some individuals that start the program with 15 pounds or less to lose or those that have lost 100 pounds with TSFL, but have less than 15 pounds left to lose. Occasionally, hunger and fatigue can also be an issue in an otherwise compliant client with a large amount of weight to lose. Our bodies are very efficient machines. When we do not have much weight to lose our bodies try to hold onto it.

The recommendation for these individuals tends to be the same….add calories. Adding additional calories are generally what we find will help these clients reach their weight loss goals and overcome hunger and fatigue. We tend to recommend adding calories to the 5 & 1 Plan without adding carbohydrates; 2-3 extra ounces of leaner/leanest protein and/or the 4 & 2 Plan. Of course, some individuals can add a 6th Medifast meal, but this is also adding carbohydrates. For the vegetarian client that chooses from the meatless options (which tend to have carbohydrates) adding additional carbohydrates from a Medifast meal may not be the best intervention. For the client that chooses all high carbohydrate veggies, incorporates a Medifast optional snack, and isn’t great about monitoring condiment intake…this may not be the best option. This is why, as part of our clients support system we would look at the “complete” picture.

The health benefits of regular physical activity are vast; routine physical activity aids in weight loss, combats health conditions and disease, improves mood, improves sleep and provides many other benefits.  When following the carbohydrate controlled low calorie 5 & 1 Plan we certainly recommend that our clients exercise….but not too much.  Burning too many calories on a low calorie meal plan can lead to “starvation” or “conservation” mode. This is part of the body’s natural defense mechanism that kicks in during times of “perceived” starvation. This will cause your body to hold onto its excess fat stores, thus, contributing to slow weight loss, fatigue and even hunger.

So, there are two things we can do for our “exercise loving” clients, #1….recommend decreasing exercise to 45 minutes of vigorous activity per day or # 2….While most ciients should be following the 5 & 1 Plan exactly, we may recommend adding the 2-3 extra ounces of additional protein outside of the Lean & Green meal, 30 minutes prior to activity is a good time to incorporate this as well. If this is not successful the next step would be to try the 4 & 2 Plan. It is a good idea to discuss the client’s personal goals and wishes when it comes to these two interventions, let them make the choice. After all, this is their journey. Success of our interventions can be measured by how our clients feel…has their hunger subsided, are they making through their workout, are they recovering the next day? Or, are they still dragging, hungry and lethargic.

Okay, so what about clients with those last10-15 pounds to lose that experience fatigue, hunger and struggle to lose weight? Well, let’s consider a few things about the 5 & 1 plan. As we know, the 5 & 1 Plan relies on supply or excess fat stores to meet energy demands. As individuals get close to or within that normal healthy BMI range or IBW range excess fat stores are not as plentiful. Without sufficient fat stores to tap into clients following the 5 & 1 Plan may experience fatigue, hunger and have issues with slow weight loss.  Keep in mind that does not occur in all of these clients. Clients that fit into this category can benefit from the same recommendations as those that are “big exercisers”. Often the additional calories can help individuals overcome hunger; fatigue and can also allow our clients to get the most out of a fat-burning plan.

Many new or potential clients that have a large amount of weight to lose, 100 pounds, 200 pounds or more can do the 5 & 1 Plan. However, some just need a bit more calories to overcome hunger and/or fatigue. In this instance adding 2-3 ounces of extra leaner or leanest protein or the 4 & 2 Plan can help our clients get the most out of the Take Shape For Life program while feeling energized and full of life.

Of course, other individuals may be better suited for option 2 or option 3 in the Guide for Diabetes and/or Senior Guide. But, to help certain individuals on the 5 & 1 Plan overcome hunger, fatigue and even slow weight loss some ideas discussed tonight can make a huge difference.

By: Matt Miller, Nutrition Support Team – Medifast/ Take Shape for Life