Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting drug also known as a “eugeroic.”
It’s used by doctors to treat sleeping disorders like shift-work, sleep disorders, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
One of the most common “side effects” reported among modafinil users is weight-loss.
This has attracted the interest of people seeking out new ways to shed some extra pounds.
Here, we go into how modafinil offers weight loss support, how to be safe while using it, and what the research says about this method of weight loss.
How do we Become Overweight?
Although many different factors are contributing to our body weight, the most basic way of thinking about our weight is with this basic formula:
calories in – calories burned = +/- weight change
For example, if you consume 3200 calories per day and spend only 2500 calories that same day, you will have an excess of about 700 calories.
If this is done repeatedly, there will be a gradual increase in weight in the form of fat.
Why is Excess Energy Stored as Fat?
The body’s cells use sugar contained in the bloodstream as a source of energy.
Blood sugar isn’t able to enter our cells directly. It needs to be escorted by a hormone known as insulin.
Once inside the cell, glucose can be broken down to produce energy.
When we’re overweight, it means that the cells have access to more energy than we need. The body then stores any excess energy as fat.
Modafinil For Weight Loss
There is no such thing as a “magic fat-burning pill” no matter who claims there to be one.
Even modafinil is not a magic pill.
There are, however, tools that can be used to push the body in the direction you want to get to sooner— in this case, weight-loss.
Don’t think of the modafinil as a “fat-burner,” think of it as a way to boost motivation, and support diet and lifestyle modifications.
Modafinil will help you to get over the issues of food cravings while dieting and helps cultivate the lifestyle and diet habits that are conducive to a healthy weight.
1. Modafinil Suppresses Appetite
A common side effect of modafinil use is a loss of appetite.
This comes as a direct result of the stimulating effects the drug has on the central nervous system.
There are two main halves of the nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
The SNS is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. It also makes us feel alert and awake during the day. It stimulates the muscles, brain, heart, lungs, and adrenal glands.
Its goal is to provide a boost in energy levels and sensory perception.
Along with stimulating parts of the nervous system responsible for that extra energy and awareness, the SNS also slows down organ systems that aren’t immediately essential for getting us out of danger.
This involves the digestive and immune systems, as well as the kidneys.
One of the byproducts of shutting down digestive function is the suppression of hunger cravings.
2. Modafinil Increases Metabolism
Metabolism can be thought of as the body’s “flow of energy.” This is how we store and use the energy we obtain from our diet.
Human metabolism is very complicated. It relies on a carefully balanced interaction of chemicals like hormones and neurotransmitters interacting with the liver, gallbladder, kidneys, and individual cells around the body.
Typically, the body’s cells extract sugar from the blood using a hormone called insulin. Once in the cell, it can be broken down to produce energy. When we are overweight, it the cells have access to more energy than they need.
The body stores the extra energy in the form of fat.
3. Modafinil Boosts Motivation
Motivation is an advantageous process in the human body. It controls our daily habits and our drive to accomplish tasks.
Some of our strongest motivating factors include hunger, the desire to reproduce, and our need for success & security.
Motivation is powered by several important structures in the brain and is mediated by the hormone dopamine.
Some people lack enough dopamine to carry out the process of motivation effectively. People with ADHD for example, often have lower dopamine levels in the brain and may find it difficult to complete particular tasks to completion.
One of the primary functions of modafinil is to increase dopamine levels in the brain. This is how it’s used for treating conditions like ADHD associated with lowered dopamine levels.
Even people without diagnosed ADHD can benefit from modafinil’s dopamine enhancing capabilities.
This is the main reason why people choose to take modafinil for boosting their focus and concentration. It may also serve as a useful tool for optimizing the process of motivation, helping us stick to our plans more easily.
This can, therefore, increase our motivation to diet successfully. A lot of people can benefit from some extra motivation to stick it through until they reach their target weight goals.
How to use Modafinil for Weight Loss
The bottom line when it comes to weight loss is always going to be diet and lifestyle. They are the underlying causes of excess weight, to begin with.
Unfortunately, no pill will ever be able to replace the right balance between diet and exercise.
With that said, modafinil is a handy tool for boosting the weight loss process and helping us stick to the plan.
We can use modafinil to help us get through the most challenging part of the process in the first couple of weeks, as well as long-term to help maintain our newly formed habits.
Understanding the limitations of modafinil, along with its strengths will help you to use the medication more effectively in your weight loss regimen.
Here are five simple steps for using modafinil as a weight loss supportive medication. This takes into account our mental philosophy and goal setting process, as well as diet and lifestyle changes.
Step 1: Set an Achievable Goal
We’ve all heard it before that weight loss program advertising a weight loss of 10 pounds per week! It sounds great, but this is not a realistic (or safe) goal.
These diet plans almost always fail because they condition people to think about their weight loss as a short-term plan.
This is the wrong way to think about weight loss.
Most people on these plans will lose a lot of weight during the first week of the diet, then gradually less until the diet, either ends or they give up, at which point they often gain all the weight back and more.
This is due to the loss of water weight in the first week and motivation issues in the weeks following.
Think about it like this; it took you a while to reach the weight you’re at, so it will take a while to lose it again.
Although tools like modafinil can be beneficial for speeding this process up, weight loss will always be a long-term thing. This is why it’s best to look at weight loss as a long-term dietary/lifestyle change.
Make a plan for weight loss in months, rather than weeks or days.
This will stand a much higher chance of success than short-term planning will ever provide.
Planning Your Weight Loss Goal
To do this, look at your current weight and compare this to your ideal weight. You can use tools like the Body Mass Index to help identify a healthy target weight.
Let’s say you find out you need to lose about 60 pounds to reach your ideal weight. A realistic goal for achieving this and keeping it off is to do this over about 4 or 5 months.
This would involve consuming smaller portions of food and exercising at least three times per week.
Remember to be honest with yourself when setting this goal.
You want to set a goal that you can stick to and accomplish. Otherwise, you’re more likely to fail and become discouraged. If you don’t think you’re going to adhere to the exercise regimen you’ve set, change it.
Maybe aim for the targeted 60 pounds in 12 months instead.
There is nothing wrong with that.
Step 2: Understand Your Energy Requirements
The easiest way to start is to calculate what we call your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR for short.
This is a calculation that takes into account your age, gender, height, and weight to estimate how much calories you use on a daily basis to sustain life.
This doesn’t include any activities you do during the day. You can add these on after.
This is the number of calories your body would consume each day if you were to just sit in a chair all day without moving a muscle.
The average human female needs about 1400 calories per day. The average male needs about 1800 calories per day.
Age, weight, and height also play a major role in this, so it’s best to calculate your own. A great tool to use to find this out is this online BMR calculator.
From here, you can add your level of exercise to get your total metabolic rate.
You can find approximates for different activities, such as this one provided by the United States Government. You can also use built-in tools found on many exercise machines, or use a generic calculator like this one by Many Tools to calculate this based on daily activity level.
Remember, it doesn’t need to be super precise, it just needs to give a good ballpark figure so you can make a reasonable estimate of how much food you should be eating each day.
By understanding your daily energy needs, it puts the calorie levels listed on many of the foods your eating into perspective.
Step 3: Plan Your Meals
Now that you know how much energy you use in a day (approximate), it’s time to start thinking about the food your eating.
The goal is to consume fewer calories through the food your eating than your body needs for the day.
One of the most common ways to do this is through portion control.
This is how popular weight loss regimens like Jenny Craig do it, which has worked for many people over the years.
It’s done by eating the same meals you were before, but about 25-50% smaller portions than usual.
The best way to do this is to search for the number of calories contained in each meal. This can be done with online tools like My Fitness Pal.
You can enter your meals into the database to get the approximate caloric breakdown of the meal.
Portion control can be challenging.
Eating large meals every day for long periods can increase the capacity of the stomach. We adapt to the large meal sizes and begin to depend on these large portions to make us feel satisfied
When we change our diets, the body needs to adjust all over again to the smaller portions.
This can take time.
Many people find these cravings a challenge, and fail before any of the benefits can be seen.
Fortunately, there are tools you can use to beat these cravings, such as modafinil, which leads us into step number 4.
Step 4: Take Modafinil
Modafinil can be an excellent tool for promoting weight loss. It works by increasing the rate of our metabolism (and thus energy usage). It also has the added benefit of lowering our appetite to support smaller meal sizes.
The worst part of cutting our food intake is the cravings it causes.
This often leads people to break the diet. In many cases, they rebound even further than they were before.
Modafinil cuts cravings through its modulating effect on the part of the hunger center of the brain. This makes it easy to reduce the amount of food we consume in a day.
The best way to use modafinil is to take it first thing in the morning after a healthy breakfast.
This helps maximize the effects of the modafinil during the peak waking hours of the day and ensures we get our vital nutrients in the morning.
Throughout the day, modafinil increases our metabolic rate and cuts hunger cravings — many people taking modafinil report going all day without eating a meal.
It can be harmful if we go too long without food, which is why we recommend taking your modafinil AFTER breakfast.
This will usually cut hunger cravings until around dinner time.
Step 5: Exercise Daily
Managing the amount of energy you burn is just as important as managing the amount of energy you consume.
To produce the net loss of energy needed to lose weight, you need to increase how much energy your body is using on a daily basis.
This can be as simple as walking every day or as complex as getting a personal trainer.
Looking at weight loss as a long-term plan is very useful for exercise.
This allows you to start at whatever pace you can and build gradually.
Perhaps in the first week, you do some extra walking, then add to that the following week with a light jog. You can increase this gradually over time to include more demanding exercises.
The Safety of Using Modafinil for Weight Loss
Modafinil is considered a safe medication but can cause some undesired side effects.
The most common side effects people experience when taking modafinil for weight loss is insomnia, anxiety, and headaches.
Both of these side effects are usually brought on by dehydration or overstimulation. Therefore managing them relies on relaxing the central nervous system and ensuring at least 2.5 liters (84 oz) of water is consumed each day.
Summary: Modafinil for Weightloss
Modafinil can be a very useful tool for promoting weight loss.
It supports smaller portion sizes by lowering appetite, increases energy usage by boosting metabolism, and improves motivation by increasing dopamine concentrations.
Modafinil is best used as a weight loss supportive by combining it with changes to diet and lifestyle. Smaller portion sizes and exercise are an excellent place to start. Modafinil is then used to optimize these changes.
By setting a realistic goal, changing your routines around food and exercise, and a little bit of a modafinil boost, you can push the body towards a healthy weight safely and effectively.