Dopamine And Food Cravings

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is produced in a deep middle region in the brain known as the substantia nigra.

This neurotransmitter influences learning, mood, alertness, concentration and pleasurable reward. Dopamine production leads to the activation of the reward and pleasure centers in the brain.

Food consumption was found to be a behavior that can regulate the mood. Under some psychological conditions, people may prefer certain types of foods due to their effect on the reward and pleasure centers. This positive result leads to changed food choices and finally could be the cause of obesity.

Medical researchers have found that women who demonstrate addictive behavior towards food have the same brain activity as that of chronic drug abusers.

When we eat, we enjoy the rewarding feeling of dopamine production. Therefore, it is recommended to have several small meals than to have a few larger meals that are spaced out. This is to enjoy the effect of higher levels of dopamine in the brain.

The number of dopamine receptors is also believed to affect the psychological reward mechanism. Those who have a lower number of dopamine receptors tend to eat more due to the smaller effect of dopamine on their mind. But those who have more dopamine receptors can control their food intake much more easily. Therefore, our genetic makeup affects our food consumption quite directly.

Unhealthy hyper-palatable foods tend to stimulate the brain reward system more than the healthier food alternatives. Sugary and starchy foods can promote the brain reward centers potently. Also, the more we eat in one sitting, the more dopamine is released and the better we feel. However over the long term, these high-calories foods cause the desensitization of the dopamine system and so we have to eat more to enjoy the same rewarding effects.

At first, our bodies used to crave for what we needed to survive. However over time, they started to crave for what we are used to consuming. Thus we can crave for unhealthy food that we don’t really need. Cravings take place as follows.

The brain reward system determines a target and causes the dopamine release. This proves to the body that this food is rewarding. But the body also releases stress hormones that cause us to feel discomfort. Therefore our bodies trick us to give in to our craving and forget about the long-term consequences.

It is an essential step to learn to control our cravings. We should all follow a healthy lifestyle. Try to consider your craving and what happens as you eat what you crave. You will start to enjoy only the first few bites, but then the rewarding feeling subsides.

Although you may feel sick afterwards, you will still feel the same urge to eat more of the food you were craving. Therefore when we feel we crave certain foods, we should stop and think of the effect of these foods on our health on the long term. Resisting the urge to consume these unhealthy foods will train our bodies to do better. The cravings will decrease over time and we will follow a healthier lifestyle and consume a healthier diet.

We can also re-program our brains to crave healthier options. Think of the outcomes of the healthier cravings. Always think of the beautiful figure you want to achieve or the energy you feel as you consume healthy food or how young you will always look as you live a healthy life. This will enable you to hold stronger to your target foods and by time, you may crave healthy foods instead of junk. By understanding how our cravings work, we can control them and learn how to use them to our advantage.

The dopamine rush helps us beat fatigue and so we find the food we crave to produce dopamine to be addictive. However there are better ways to enjoy the desirable effects of dopamine without having such an addictive attitude towards bad food. It is recommended to never skip a meal and to eat frequent small meals throughout the day to enjoy a steady production of dopamine. Also, exercise is a natural way to provide the body with additional dopamine.

Tyrosine is an amino acid that acts as a building block of dopamine. Therefore, make sure you get sufficient amount of tyrosine from food or supplements to help our bodies later make the needed dopamine. Tyrosine is found in various foods such as bananas, avocados, coffee, green tea, and milk.

Boosting your dopamine levels will increase your productivity and efficiency, but do it the smart way, not the addictive way!

Is It Better To Lose Weight Fast Or Slowly

Being overweight or obese is a no laughing matter!

It negatively impacts our quality of life and can cause serious health conditions. Since obesity is on the rise, the need to lose weight has become more common in the population and many individuals start different weight loss plans. Some of these diet plans promise slow weight loss, while some strict plans aim at losing weight fast.

So which type is best?

If it is recommended to lose from one to two pounds per week, that can be considered slow weight loss. In this case it can take several months and even years to lose considerable weight.

On the other hand, stricter weight loss programs only last for a shorter period of time during which one can lose a reasonable amount of weight.

It is better to take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both choices to try to make up our minds.

Slow weight loss programs help you lose weight safely.

You need to follow the plan for a long period of time. This can help you establish healthy habits that may last long such as exercising and an healthy diet.

By knowing the healthy alternatives to your current more unhealthy habits, you can start following a healthier life style. The result is often a weight loss that can be sustained for a long time since you’ve made the choice to live a healthy life, presumably for your entire life.

Fast weight loss can be motivational and encouraging to keep going if you don’t have the persistence needed for the slower options. You will lose enough weight in a short time and so people can quickly notice the difference in your appearance.

This will encourage you as what you are doing is worth it and you can keep doing it. Also fast weight loss programs can be more tolerable since they last for a shorter period of time, so you don’t have to follow the changes for so long. In many cases, people were found to comply more with a faster plan that with a slower one.

However, a fast weight loss diet can have many drawbacks.

If you have decreased your food intake to a large extent, you may face health problems such as dehydration or nutrients deficiency. Also fast programs usually include a very strict diet and strenuous workouts that are so hard to keep doing for a long time. Hence the experts suggest that you are more likely to regain the weight you lost quickly and even put on more weight later.

Fast weight loss can also lead to a loss in the muscle tissue. That is because our bodies can only burn so much fat in a day or week, and thus they may resort to using muscle tissue for energy. Losing such muscle tissue can in turn cause the body to burn fewer calories on a daily basis, and thus make further weight loss even harder.

A fast weight loss may cause your skin to get loose and lagging in some areas and you get that extra skin, especially if you’ve been obese for a long time. Your skin won’t have enough time to get stretched once again.

Faster weight loss still has its advantages. Some clinics offer a faster regimen plan in the first few weeks of the diet plan then shift to a slower pace. This can ensure that you feel the difference and feel motivated to go on with your diet plan. More people can comply when they see how they look better and when others start to compliment them.

Fast weight loss can also be life-saving in conditions where obesity has led to fatal risks. However in such situations these programs have to be carried out under medical supervision. The patient needs to follow the instructions and to receive some medical care when needed.

Slow weight loss can help you live a healthy lifestyle whereas the changes with a faster alternative could be more temporary. Also a slow weight loss does not cause a decrease in muscle tissue and the skin can look firmer.

Some practical studies have shown that both ways brought about similar results where the obese individuals lost similar weight and regained also a nearly similar amount of weight after some time. However more people have followed their plan in case of a quick weight loss program while more people have quit in case of a slow weight loss program.

There are different factors to assess when determining the program that suits an overweight person. The patient’s health condition and compliance are key elements in choosing a suitable regimen.

Can We Train Our Brain To Resist Food Temptation?

At present, more than one in three American adults above 20 years old is obese. The number increase from approximately one in four two decades ago. Sadly, almost 70% of Americans are overweight. Millions of other citizens are carrying more weight than they want this time of the year.

Numerous Americans experience not only health issues, but shame and guilt over these extra pounds. And that is why weight loss as an industry of diet companies, diet book authors, obesity doctors and weight loss pill manufacturers – is a real big business. Businesses that are focused on weight loss products and services could easily rake in $6.3 billion in revenue last year based on an IBISWorld report.

Good examples would be Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem. Sales of their supplements, which promise weight loss, add billion more. And nowadays, doctors are performing thousands of bariatric surgeries annually to help patients get rid of their excessive body weight.

The desire of many to slim down is a great source of cash for other people. To earn those big sums of money, some companies are eager to stretch the reality of what their products and services could do.

To make sure that most of the weight-loss ads are relatively true, and there are a number of diet supplements that work. Still, the quantity of misinformation in the weight loss industry is very high. Consumers must learn how to read labels to avoid fraudulent products. Avoid those that offer like losing 10 pounds in just 10 days.

Interestingly, a group of psychologists has specially designed a computer game aimed at improving the inhibitory control of a user and a mobile application that fights unhealthy urges before they hit. The inhibitory control is the part of the brain that bars you from giving in to unhealthy cravings even when the smell of hamburger is basically begging you to fall in line in the nearest burger stand. These technologies are believed to have the ability to train the brain to defy temptation.

Researchers from Drexel University worked hard to answer a question if a computer game can actually train a person’s brain to resist sweets and other cravings. The researchers conducted some testing whether a new computer game and Smartphone can change people’s behavior towards eating.

Just recently, the Drexel University researchers have launched a few studies. They have developed technologies that can help in controlling unwholesome eating habits and eventually lose weight.

Their computer game is built to help a person control himself and not give in any delicious temptations.
On the other hand, the mobile app can intelligently detect patterns in the eating habits of an individual. Whenever a user misses his dietary plan, the mobile app provides customized strategies to guide and put them back on the right track.

Based on the data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69% of adults residing in Philadelphia are obese or overweight. While there are different factors contributing to the obesity epidemic in the city, oftentimes a person’s mind is the biggest obstruction when it comes to weight loss. This is according to Dr. Evan Forman, who is a psychology professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. He continued, saying that sweet foods set off the same feel-good brain chemicals as addictive drugs.

Millions of people who are trying to lose weight usually do it by minimizing their calorie consumption. It is not uncommon that in some days, they might slip from their diet plans. This can happen to anyone. Dr. Forman said that the secret of helping people really lose weight is preventing these slips. That’s why they concentrate on how the best way to do and achieve that.

All throughout the day, you have to decide about what foods you eat. And it is not a secret that there is a dominant part of your mind that drives a person toward things that feel and taste good.

For example, an officemate brings a dozen of doughnuts into the workplace. For someone regularly eats sweets, the initial reaction is, “I love to have one.” The next response is to try to pump the brakes on the urge. Unfortunately, that kind of reaction is usually slower and weaker than impulse.

However, a couple of studies have shown that if someone performs certain tasks involving inhibitory control constantly, it actually gets stronger.

Dr. Forman and his team of researchers tested this premise in the latest study, which was published in a journal Called Appetite. Eaters who habitually consume snack food were assigned to 1 of 4 short, training exercises customized to increase their cautious decision-making and reinforce their inhibitory control. It was concluded that both trainings were effective in curbing snack eating.

Right now, the researchers are trying to discover whether inhibitory control training can help the participants minimize their sugary food consumption, and eventually lose weight.

DietDash is the name of their new training game. First, it requires participants to reveal the kinds of sugary food they eat very often. They will then be assigned to 1 of 4 versions of a game that is designed to their diet. For instance, if a participant lists soda and chocolate cake as their favourite treat, those will appear in the game.

The players have to press some keys to respond to different kinds of images, which include images of yummy sugary foods and images of healthy foods. As the inhibitory control of a player improve the speed of the game increases with an extra challenge. Every user is required to play for 8 minutes daily, 7 days a week for 6 weeks.

Although other studies have shown this kind of training at least temporarily influences the eating habits of a user. The researchers wish to know the result over a period of 2 months. The National Institutes of Health funded this project.

This is the first attempt to train individuals for a couple of weeks in a row. The researchers believe that this can translate to “real-world behaviours,” because any task improves with regular practice.

Dr. Forman is confident that when the study is done, the computer game could be developed into a mobile application.

The second technology that the researchers design is called DietAlert. Obesity Society and Weight Watchers funded the project.

This Smartphone app gathers data about the eating habits of a user and incorporates a mathematical algorithm to identify when he or she is expected to slip from his or her diet plan.

For example, the app may say that an individual is more likely to consume sugary foods after lunch when she misses out her breakfast. As someone’s eating pattern becomes familiar with the app, it can send a warning alert and give tips to help the user focus more on his health plan.

One of the most difficult parts of a diet plan is the failure to distinguish and mark factors that keep causing lapses constantly.

The DietAlert app is like no other application available technology today. It does not only track a user’s eating habits, but it also incorporates the data to provide a personalized recommendation.

DietAlert targets every person exactly when he needs the right kind of help.

The researchers in the Laboratory for Innovations in Health-Related Behavior Change of Drexel University are now searching for participants of both studies.

The DietDash study must be between 25 and 55 years old, overweight, and consume sweets frequently. All the participants who will complete the study will receive compensation.

On the other hand, those who are interested in participating in the DietAlert study must be between 18 and 65 years old. You must be looking for ways to lose weight. Compensation and a free Weight Watchers mobile app monthly subscription will be given to those who will be able to complete the study.

12 Losing Weight Methods That Do Not Work

Do you find it difficult to drop those extra pounds? There are surprising explanations that can help you understand the wrong things you are doing.

You have exhausted the last seven days putting in place your best effort to lose two pounds or more. Unfortunately, your weekly register with the weighing scale divulges that you cannot get your weight loss goals in motion. Possibly, your willpower is not the issue here. You must be making weight loss mistakes that even habitual dieters fall prey to.

Of course, you can absolutely bang the weight loss plateau. You have been walking the narrow road to weight loss by counting calories; still, you are not losing extra pounds. The answers might be all hiding out in the middle of various practices you do on an average day. Those little habits have apparently no connection to weight loss, but may, in fact, be disrupting your best efforts to slim down.

  1. Eating Too Little.

You need to increase your calories to put fuel to your metabolism. When someone plunges below 1,200 calories daily, he is not consuming enough to get all the nutrients. However, your body slows the metabolism to cling to valued calories. This is what Dr. Christine Gerbstadt believes.

In addition, if you miss out meals to drop extra pounds, your body could lose the capacity to feel full. Maybe you can blame it to human evolution, which has designed the human bodies to defend against famine and not a table full of food.

For instance, if you miss your breakfast, the body presumes food is limited. You need to eat something in the morning to let your body know it is fine to burn calories. According to Dr. Gerbstadt, if you walk for an hour, you must eat 350 to 500 calories during breakfast, with 10g to 15g of protein and fiber to add fuel to the metabolic fire. There are lots of healthy breakfast ideas that you can apply.

  1. Gulping Diet Drinks.

A research suggests that diet drinks may possibly boomerang. The taste of a sweet food or drink with no calories causes the body to keep calories as fat. In one research, drinkers of diet sodas had a 178% greater increase in their waistline over a decade, compared with drinkers of non-diet sodas.

The truth is, artificial sweeteners actually lower your blood sugar and increase the insulin levels. These events may arouse hunger and transfer available calories into storage space in your fat cells. One of the authors of the above study, Sharon P. Fowler, MPH, says this could all happen to people who gulp diet soda. In addition, fake sweeteners might not suppress a craving like real sugar can. This is because sugar prompts a longer dopamine release. Even after you down 2 cans of Diet Coke, you may still desire a candy bar afterward.

  1. Eliminating Wine.

Women who drank 1 to 2 glasses of wine every day gained less weight for more than 13 years. This is a claim supported by a research conducted by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. This effect is comparable to those women who did not drink alcohol – 8lbs versus 5.5lbs, to be precise.

  1. Rewarding Workout With Food.

Sure thing, burning 300 calories during an exercise is a good reason for celebration, but rewarding yourself after a workout with a high-calorie delicacy does not add up to your weight loss plan. You are expected to miscalculate how much the exercise burned off and take too lightly the amount of food you ate.

The author of the Nutrient Timing for Peak Performance, Heidi Skolnik, said that even if someone is working out for fitness, he still has to keep checking the calories.

  1. Befriending Heavy People.

Some people thought that having heavier friends will make them look smaller. But, your chances of being obese increase half a percent with every obese friend you have. This is according to a recent Harvard study. Your chances of obesity doubled for every 4 obese friends you have.

According to a New England Journal of Medicine study, even if your friend lives miles away, your chances of gaining weight still increases. This is because your observation of being overweight alters; living bigger seems more acceptable since your friends are heavy. It is interesting to note that having an overweight or obese neighbour who is not close to you does not increase your risk.

Also, experts believe that a person’s lifestyle and attitude can subconsciously be influenced by his inner circle of friends.

But, it would be unfair to ditch your friends who are overweight or obese to lose weight. As a matter of fact, if you get on together on a workout plan, you can raise the calories you’re burning and the fun you are feeling.

An Oxford research discovers that working out with your friends as a group can essentially make the pain of working out less intense. The similar type of hormones is released during social activities, endorphins, which also help relieve pain. Once your friend begins losing weight, you have a higher probability of losing as well. This kind of mechanism works both ways.

  1. Following a Fat-Free or No Carb Diet.

Slashing any of the food groups, say, fat or carbohydrates can leave you short of the nutrients your body requires to keep you energized. According to a recent study, dieters who are low in vitamin C and calcium had bigger odds of putting off belly fat.

The trick is a varied diet that includes good carbs and healthy fats like fruits and vegetables.  Nevertheless, the biggest reason low-carbohydrate diets boomerang is that, for most people, they are not sustainable over the long run. It is very rare that someone can say no to pasta dinners and birthday cakes forever. Like any other diet, once a person gives up, he regains the weight he lost and gains more. These fluctuations can make it an even larger trial to lose weight the next time.

  1. Avoid Making Your Diet Digital.

Maybe you are already aware that jotting down what you consume helps you undoubtedly minimize your calorie intake, merely by making you conscious of every bite.

However, you might not be informed that using a digitized application or program with encouraging feedback can help you lose even more weight. The University of Pittsburgh study determines that individuals who checked their diet and physical activities with a digital device that offers regular feedback drop more weight. They also fixed their diet with a digital gadget than those who used pen and paper.

Not only that, a group who uses high-tech devices increased their vegetable and fruit intake more than those paper users. You are not required to log in every single day or week to enjoy the benefits. A study discovered that dieters who noted meals online just once a month were thrice more likely to keep off extra pounds over two years, compared with those who did so less regularly.

  1. Eating Healthy Always.

There is a funny thing going on when you focus on making cautious dietary decisions. If you just assume your meal is a light option, it can make your brain produce more hormone ghrelin. This is according to a Yale University study.

Higher levels of ghrelin make you feel less full, which signals the metabolism to slow down says Dr. Alia Crum. To keep this hormone balanced, focus your attention on more lenient elements of your meal like cheese and nuts of your salad, rather than the lettuce.

The trick is to pick items that are both healthy and seem like a reward, like a delicious bowl of warm soup with whole grain bread.

  1. Paying with Plastic

Some people believe that paying with a credit card is much easier and healthier than paying in cash. For them, carrying cash feels like too old of a tradition and will limit their option for buying healthy stuff. But according to a Journal of Consumer Research study, individuals who are using a credit card when shopping buy considerably more calorie-dense, totally unhealthy foods than those who pay in cash.

Since shoppers do not instantly feel the hit in their wallet, they tend to buy junk food with extra calories. With a credit card on hand, one can immediately give in to his impulses. This is explained by Dr. Kalpesh Desai, an associate professor of marketing at Binghamton University.

  1. Thinking about Your Exercise All The Time

There are those who believe that thinking more often about your exercise will help you become more committed to your workout program. It may be helpful in some aspects, but there is a downside to it, according to a French study. A simple habit of thinking about exercise can make you eat 50 percent more. People think that the forthcoming exercise grants them to snack more.

You have to prevent extra munching with a pre-workout snack of not over 150 calories, says Dr. Keri Glassman, who wrote The Snack Factor Diet. You can try 2 slices of whole grain crackers with turkey if you really feel hungry.

  1. Sleeping Too Little

Dr. Michael Breus who authors The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan says that insufficient shut-eye puts your body into a fat and carb craving survival mode. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found out that women who slept less than 4 hours consumed 21 more grams of fat and 300 more calories the next day.

Work on gauging your sleep requirement. Weekly, go to bed 7 1\2 hours before you have to get up. If you woke up before the alarm, you can get by with less sleep. But if you hit snooze and feel like needing more sleep, then try to sleep earlier the next night. This will help you recharged, refreshed and burn more fats.

  1. Too Focused At Work

Although you have to work well, but being laser-focused at work have a few disadvantages. If you sit in front of your desk for a couple of hours, your body stops producing lipase, a fat-inhibiting enzyme. This is a recent discovery of the University of Missouri–Columbia researchers.

You need to stand and do some stretching each hour to boost your metabolism by 13%. This is a healthy suggestion from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In addition, you can fidget all day by tapping your feet or bouncing in your chair to increase calorie burn by 54%.