Friday, July 01, 2016

Why Do I Overeat? OR Why do Prescribed Diets Piss Me Off?

The answer is quite simple, and yet I had no clue! 

And probably you don't either. 

How often has this happened: You get all excited to start a new exercise and eating plan and within a day or 5 you're hiding in the pantry scarfing a bag of Oreos while punching the walls, and people in the next room are whispering fury-inducing words like "hangry" and "mentally unstable" about you?


Well, I'm here to tell you there is a very good reason those prescribed diets are pissing you off.
The answer?
Serotonin.
Or more accurately: Serotonin deficiency.
 I have been doing a lot of research about serotonin levels and their effects on not only mood and mental illness but also on weight management. Two books you HAVE to read if you struggle with hangry or depression or eating binges (they usually go hand-in-hand, don't they?) are The Serotonin Power Diet and Secrets of Serotonin. (if you click on these links and buy I will get a kickback from Amazon. If you don't like that, go to Amazon and search the books.)


I am currently a guinea pig in my own experiment. I'm keeping track of what I'm eating in an app so I have an easy reference for protein, carb, and fat consumption without having to count that stuff outright. I'm also keeping a journal of my day including exercise duration, kind of exercise, mood shifts, and energy levels. And of course, weight. This is to start. Might add other things along the way.
Why am I doing this? I'm convinced that the secret to long-term weight and health maintenance is to KNOW MYSELF, and that means understanding how MY body and mind react to any given exercise or eating routine or lack thereof.
Every time I've tried a prescribed dieting plan, I want to punch the walls...or someone's face. It's always frustrating and I think to myself "Why? Am I such a petulant child that I can't pull up my big girl panties and deal?"
Well, part of the problem is that serotonin cannot be created in my brain without tryptophan making its way across the blood-brain barrier. I've known this for years, but what I didn't know is tryptophan cannot cross the brain barrier when I've consumed a lot of protein. 

Holy cow! (pun intended)

So what that has meant is when I try to eat high protein, low carb, I'm an anxious, depressed, or pissed off momma. Not good.
I used to think I needed to eat protein when my mood shifted to the negative (hangry, anyone?) but with only a few days of experimenting I'm realizing I need a carb snack. Not only that, I have to time it right. If I've had protein at breakfast, then my carb snack needs to be eaten 3 hours later and 1 hour before a meal that contains protein.
If I time the snack right, as well as the general nutrition, my mood lifts, cravings diminish, and I easily eat reasonable portions at meals.
Holy hell.
And there's a lot more, but I will share more later. This is a long-ass post but I'm really excited over what I'm discovering.
Know this: if it's killing you to eat low carb, then don't. Honestly, all that "weight" you lose so fast at the beginning of the Atkins or South Beach diet is mostly water. You need carbs to maintain adequate hydration (if you doubt this, eat a bunch of sugary snacks and watch yourself bloat like a pork sausage). That's also why as soon as you eat one fucking piece of bread you put all that weight back on. Just saying.

If your high-protein low-carb diets piss you off, you may need to support serotonin production and the quickest way to do that is to try a carb snack 3 hours after a meal containing protein and 1 hour before a meal containing protein. In other words, make sure your stomach is NOT trying to digest both at the same time.

This doesn't mean your meals have to be protein high and low or no carb. It just means to get the best serotonin boost, you need a carb snack that doesn't' have to compete with protein. See, there are these "gateways" between your bloodstream and the brain and they only allow so many amino acids and such through at any one time. 
If your bloodstream is flooded with protein amino acids, the tryptophan gets pushed to the back of the line. If you wait at least 3 hours and then eat carbs, it's like the others have either passed through the gate or get turned away and tryptophan moves to the front of the line. 
For more on the science, read the books I suggested above or consult an expert on the subject.
Here are your carb snack guidelines:
1. If you have 15 lbs or more you want to lose, the snack must be between 30 and 40 grams of carbs, no more than 5 grams protein (less is better), and no more than 3 grams fat. Of course, give yourself some wiggle room. This is just a guide. If you have 15 lbs or less to lose, carbs change to no more than 30 grams.
2. Consume your carb snack within 10 minutes. Do NOT graze on it over an extended time. Expect the serotonin boost with 30 minutes. After you lose about 10 pounds, the surge will happen within 20 minutes. 3. Consume your carb snack 1 hour before a meal containing protein, and at least 3 hours after a meal containing protein.
And if you're craving something crunchy or sweet after dinner, consider making your dinner a carbs and veggies one. This will maximize serotonin production in the evenings, easing cravings and setting you up for a good night's sleep.
HoWEVER, if you still have a sweet/carb craving in the evening, have another carb snack in the evening, 2-3 hours after dinner.

Learning means sharing, so please let me know how this works for you. We can all gain knowledge from each other's experiences so comment away!

Peace out. 

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