Vince Andrich EIC, SuperFit Journal
What “magic-diet-tricks” do you use to get and stay leaner? Is it; low-carb, high protein, Paleo, IIFYM (if it fits your macros), IF (intermittent fasting), Ketogenic, low-fat, calorie counting, periodic cheat meals, cheat days or something else?
If you’re still reading this you likely exercise, and have a good understanding of your macronutrient targets, and the need for keeping a bit more protein in your diet plan than “average people” to build and maintain lean muscle.
Your goal is to get or remain lean.
But, the reason I call out “overeating” is that nearly all diet plans preach the ability to give you unbreakable willpower!
Then there’s the sobering yet unpopular fact we can all agree on; the main reason people fail to get lean is this; too many calories in, not enough calories burned.
For those of us who livefit in the modern world, the 800 pound elephant in the room full of diet miracles is; how to tame our drive for food while getting lean.
Surviving in an environment of “hyperpalatable” foods.
Don’t let the term hyperpalatable fool you. It’s just a fancy term for junk-food used by neuroscientists to describe foods designed to taste excessively sweet, salty, fatty, and savory.
The foods you eat regulate hunger. In part this is done by stimulating the release of dopamine, a natural brain chemical. This feel-good chemical is a major player in the pleasure/reward center in your brain.
Chemists create hyperpalatable foods by adding increased levels of fat, sugar, flavors, and food additives to products. These foods create a bond between a highly desirable taste experience and pleasure centers in your brain that motivate you to reach for “junk food” rather than less “rewarding” traditional whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, meats and nuts.
For companies making hyperpalatable foods, the reason is simple; make products that give you much higher level of reward, making other foods less desirable.
1. Chart: Gearhardt et al.
Food Reward Resistant
We know that when surrounded by highly-palatable foods we end up eating up to 44 percent more calories than we’d normally eat if the foods weren’t manipulated to be highly desirable (Kessler, David 2010-09-14). Eating sugar, fat and salt causes you to eat more sugar, fat and salt. While your mileage may vary, highly palatable foods engage the brain reward system toward escalated consumption.
Here’s an analogy; imagine listening to your favorite music with distortion free high volume headphones. Stop and think about hearing each note like never before, in greater detail and intensity. This experience would light up the pleasure centers in your brain in a manner impossible to match with low volume earbuds. The result with food is just like music, where your drive to get the hyperpalatable food would be high, while responses to simply palatable food would be weak.
Could it be that our brain’s hard-wired mechanisms for regulating food intake and body fat in a natural environment are not sufficient to protect against modern hyperpalatable and hyper-rewarding food?
Not for all, but certainly there are many of us that become Food Reward Resistant.
Over the years, I’ve used many diet tricks, but making whole food taste good (not spectacular) has served me well. I do eat about 40% of Kcals from protein, high fiber diet. I do not do well on Very Low Carb, or Ketogenic diets or plans with scheduled cheat meals, cheat days, or IIFYM). For me, the former reduce my metabolic flexibility, and the latter create habits that reward bad food choices and overeating.
Something to think about the next time you’re looking for a “magic-diet-trick to manage your drive for food.
Let me know your opinion; why do we overeat?
1) Kessler, David (2010-09-14). The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite (p. 279). Rodale Books. Kindle Edition.