Tricking the brain into weight loss
What's up peeps!
In today's age, many struggle with food and weight, sometimes we try and try with no results, sometimes it can be blamed on genetics, aging and being less mobile, foods of convenience and temptation. Social media and tv commercials of food often gets us in trouble and eat more of our guilty pleasures than we should indulge in. So many fad diets come and go some may offer great results but are too restricting while others may do more harm than good.
Many surgeries and expensive processes are available but in the end it needs to be maintained and can come back. Our habits have everything to do with our weight management and more often than not are buying foods that are designed to give us a hand but falsely advertised as healthy, loaded with chemicals like aspartame that can disrupt the body's proper functioning and slow down our metabolism. A slowed down metabolism in turn reduces the calories burned naturally, leaves us feeling sluggish. Heck some of these so called healthy foods can even cause water retention and inflammation aggravating the problem.
Recipe at the bottom of the post
Our social habits and how we see meals and nourishment can also impact our results, not essentially doing anything wrong per say but preventing us from seeing simple solutions that are outside of the norm of we are taught since we were little combined with a lack of knowledge on interpreting our own body and brain's language and it's requirements. Having a better understanding on these functions can help us trick our brains into weight loss and avoid a plateau despite our best efforts. Being smarter than our brain. Wait what? Isn't that where our intelligence come from in the first place?
In this issue, we will explore a few tips and tricks to help with maintaining a healthy weight or loose a few pounds along with boosting the metabolism, most of them is simply tricking the brain. First of all, hunger starts in the brain contrary to popular beliefs of in the stomach. Feeling hungry? Growly stomach? We must eat, our body must need food right? Not always. Food and the production of dopamine (happy hormone) are closely related why food can be associated as a drug with those who struggle with food addictions and unhealthy eating habits along with emotional eating.
1. Sugar and salt are added in many fast foods along with other pre-packaged foods and easy meal kits we all love to get you addicted, that's how they get you, not because the food taste that good in the first place if you really think about it but it satisfies the brain until it eventually wears of and it desires more but it eventually becomes cravings and turns into what seems like a never ending cycle. When your levels of dopamine gets low, it tends to crave these thigs for excitement in other words FLAVOR.
When we crave sweets or salty things it's just what our brain knows that will get dopamine production easily. In other words rather than turning to the 2 most common fixes, going for snacks and meals with a mix of different flavors, spices will also produce dopamine and satisfy that craving. By spices I don't mean "hot" spicy, just using a wider variety of spices or herbs and less salt and sugar in our cooking. It's all in the seasoning, seasoning naturally will have the same result and make your brain happy.
Eating more flavorful foods can actually get you full faster than eating the standard western diet along with many spices and herbs having similar minerals and vitamins that can be found in fruits and vegetables, because once again hunger is literally in the brain. Eating foods that are rich in fiber can also fill you up faster and keep you feeling full longer.
2. Learning to make your guilty pleasures aka drive thru or restaurant favorites at home. By making it at home, we can better control the amount of salt and sugar we actually eat. Instead of buying that all time favorite taco kit, buying the spices to mix it ourselves is actually easier in the first place, good for the wallet good and for the waist. This is obviously just an example. A nice homemade burger taste much better than one from a drive thru. Making it at home, you can customize it even more with fresh veggies to reduce the amount of meat and feel fuller longer.
Sometimes time is an issue or we just feel lazy. Many things can be prepped beforehand and just kept in the freezer, like making the patties ahead of time before sticking our ground beef in the freezer, I mean it's going there anyway right? It will reduce the time you have to wait to defrost things if it's already individually portioned. Obviously just an example, this can be done with any of our favorite take out go-to meals and guarantied to contain much less preservatives that can impact weight management. Not only is home made always a healthier option, you also expend extra calories just making it.
3. Deciphering your cravings, when you crave for that chocolate, sweet treat or pastry, you may obviously be craving sugar, not the treat. Replacing such with fruits is likely to satisfy that sweet tooth. Even that sweet tooth will thank you on your next dreaded dentist visit. If you crave potato chips? Your body needs salt, perhaps cutting a tomato or other vegetables seasoned with salt and pepper, much healthier than potato chips.
They say it takes 28 days to change a habit, more on that later but for now, being mindful before reaching for our craving may seem hard at first but as you continue, it will become easier and your cravings will actually change in time with continued efforts. Tricking your brain cravings.
4. Chewing your food longer. Our taste buds are on our tongue not in our stomach, chewing our food longer gives time for the receptors to reach the brain and trigger dopamine production before overeating, making us full faster and avoid that overfull feeling after we ate too much too fast. Chewing your food longer also helps with digestion, saliva is loaded with essential digestive enzymes. Since hunger is in the brain, eating slower gives the stomach a chance to communicate to the brain that it is full. Eating too fast increases the amount of food to feel full for that reason, the stomach just didn't have time to communicate. This is one I'm pretty guilty of!
5. Eating less meat, we all like it and it's mostly essential to our body's proper functioning. Digesting it is another story, it's hard to digest protein and it mostly just sits in your guts for far too long in turn giving that sluggish feeling and can slow down your metabolism along with creating additional toxins that further slows down the metabolism. Double whammy on that delicious beefy goodness unfortunately. Doesn't mean throw that steak out the window but reducing it to twice a week rather than everyday can have a huge impact along with reducing the amount per meal. Adding it to a stir fry with vegetables or to a salad rather than eating just a big chunk of meat. Your digestive system will probably thank you.
6. Exchanging deep fried foods for an air fryer. It takes a bit of room on the counter but when we get that fried food craving including french fries, the air fryer gives a similar taste without all the oil absorption that occurs in fried goods. Most fried foods are fried in hydrogenated vegetable oil, also really nasty for the body in the bad fat category and just consuming that type of oil alone is detrimental and slows down the metabolism.
When choosing a cooking oil for pan frying, keeping it natural is best. Avocado oil is great at high heat and doesn't have much of an after taste unlike coconut oil which is another healthier oil to cook with. I always have olive oil on hand but it can break down at high heat in the pan, mixing it with a bit of butter stabilizes that issue and prevents it from burning.
7. Often the so called healthy options advertised contain chemicals like aspartame to replace sugar, in reality, this isn't very healthy unless you have diabetes. These chemicals cause hormone imbalance contributing to slowing the metabolism. Choosing natural sugar sources like honey, maple syrup or agave syrup instead of refined sugar to sweeten our dishes is a better option and take longer to break down avoiding that fast high and fast crash along with the various health benefits they carry on their own.
8. Drinking enough water, most of us tend to reach for that "pick-me-up" drink like sodas, energy drinks and coffee...That's water right? Lol. Noope sorry. Many of these drinks are not only additional sugar and calories (well maybe not the coffee) but they will give you a quick high and an equally quick crash that just makes us go for more. On top of the addiction factor, it is dehydrating along with causing water retention in the body making us actually heavier and more plump outside of the normal weight gain.
I personally try to keep it to 1 coffee, one glass of fruit juice and 2 glasses of milk per day, every other drink is WATER ONLY. By one glass I don't mean that monster sized glass!! hehe a normal glass that contains about one cup of liquid. The body needs 8 glasses of water to function normally and proper hydration. Water helps flush out toxins and when these toxins build up, it further slows down our metabolism.
If water is too boring, squeezing a slice of lemon into it will give it flavor. We all think of our kitchen cleaning products with that pleasant lemony smell, there is a reason for that beyond "it smells pretty". Lemon is known to dissolve grease and make cleaning easier...Guess what! It does the same in the body along with getting the vitamin and citrus benefits of this superfood. In case you missed my list of superfoods, here is a link that would be relevant to this post.
TRICKING THE BRAIN AND METABOLISM:
1. Despite our best efforts, when diet and exercising, we experience great results at first and then we plateau. Why is that? I mentioned above it takes 28 days to form a new habit, there is a reason for that. Our brains and bodies will adapt to anything in that given time, even to our diet and exercise routines and that's why we plateau. When I worked at the gym as trainers, we switched up peoples exercise routines once per month for that reason, even for the body builders. Switching your exercise routine regularly will throw a curve ball to your metabolism so it doesn't get comfortable and become lazy and it has to adapt to something new again instead of your metabolism getting used to the routine. Same goes for switching up our diet.
2. This one might be a less popular one but with great results. Intermittent fasting. I'm not suggesting anyone go full anorexic but our bodies can survive 40 days without food. Intermittent fasting is going without food for 16 hours, doing this once or twice a week once again throws a curve ball to our metabolism. Much harder to do at first until your brain gets used to it so starting once a week is best. Also best to do it on a day where you can rest, not on a work day or exercising on an empty stomach as it can lead to low blood sugar and have repercussions. Eating dinner, no calories between that and lunch the next day, yes your stomach will growl but in time it goes away with practice.
Our body stores fat that it can convert into energy at any given time it requires to do so. even if we are resting, simple activities like reading a book or doing chores still require energy and fasting forces the body to tap into fat reserves and burn them before you eat to get the fuel it needs to function. For a successful fast, only water can be consumed for those 16 hours. Fasting also boosts metabolism along with cell turn over, so it can actually be good for looking younger as well along with throwing a curve ball to your metabolism, don't let that thing get comfortable! Double bonus.
3. We often think of meal time as increasing portions and heaviness as we progress with our day, that is in fact the wrong order. You heaviest meal should be breakfast since all of that food will be digested and transformed into fuel first. The calories gained from breakfast are guaranteed to be burned by the end of the day and dinner should actually be your lightest meal since our bodies doesn't really digest anything when we sleep.
Often what we eat for diner is what gets stored in fat reserves since we are less likely to burn those calories. In other words, if you want to eat that nasty thing as a cheat meal , do it for breakfast or lunch, not in the evening! A soup and salad would be more beneficial to have for diner rather than for lunch. In other words flipping around the order of the meals can increase weight loss results based on calorie intake and digestion.
4. Eating smaller meals but more often is also a great way to learn to reduce portion size along with what our body stores for the future. We are all used to eating 3 large meals and carry on with our busy lives, we tend to get hungry in between causing us to eat larger portions at once and the body to store much of it. Eating 3 smaller meals along with 3 healthy snacks is sure to keep a constant fuel source further reducing the amount of fat/calories the body will store knowing it doesn't need to store for later.
Today's portion size have increased and that amount of food normally served on the table or at restaurants is actually double the size of what it should be. I know our mothers always told us to finish our plate, perhaps saving some for later is the better option. Our stomachs maybe a little unhappy at first but with regular practice ,our stomachs has a natural ability to shrink over time and get full faster as a result. When choosing snacks, knowing fruits and vegetables that are low in calories and rich in water like figs, celery, cucumber or watermelon will help keep hydrated along with having something in your stomach, to keep that starving feeling away without adding calories to burn.
EXERCISE AND FIGHTING AGE
When we are younger, we are able to eat what we want and just go burn it off at the gym and get ripped or our more active lifestyle afford us to eat more but as we age, re-adjusting our eating and exercise habits is a must, we exercise less, we are burning less calories, we should eat less. Joint pain along with slowing down can impact our exercise routine and keeping us more sedentary than in our youth. Rather than exercising less, perhaps low impact exercises are better suited. Joints in motion hurt less and that's the truth.
Many gyms with a pool offer aquatic exercises and classes that are also low impact on the joints along with walking. fighting the resistance in the pool on low impact exercises actually burn more calories than doing the same exercises on dry land. Gym programs speaking to a trainer can also prepare a customized routine meant for low impact. The important part is to keep moving.
At the top, I posted a photo of some sort of coconut milk ramen type noodles, I wanted to share this recipe full of flavor with you. It's pretty fast and easy to make and incredibly tasty. It's Thai inspired flavors but I don't really have a name for it. Probably too simple for a post on it's own, I thought it would be a nice addition to this post.
For each serving of this you will need:
- fresh chow mein egg noodles
- 2/3 cup chicken stock
- 3 tbs coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp garlic chili paste
- 3/4 tsp green curry paste
- 1 tsp chunky peanut butter,
- 1 garlic clove
- fresh ginger
- bok choy
- snap peas
- sesame oil
- raw cashews
- green onion
Fry sliced mushroom and bok choy stalks in sesame oil ,cook noodles as per instructions.
In a sauce pan mix chicken stock, chili paste and curry paste, peanut butter, pressed garlic, grated ginger, add sesame oil and bring to a boil.
In a bowl, layout noodles top with cooked vegetables and cashews, raw snap peas, green onion and bok choy leaves. Pour hot liquid over everything and squeeze lime over top. Allow to rest 2 minutes to cook raw vegetables before eating.
Alright, Peace out all! xox