Change in Food Cravings, Food Preferences, and Appetite During a Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diet
Martin, C.K., Rosenbaum, D., Han, H., Geiselman, P.J., Wyatt, H.R., Hill, J.O., Brill, C., Bailer, B., Miller Iii, B.V., Stein, R., Klein, S., Foster, G.D., “Change in Food Cravings, Food Preferences, and Appetite During a Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diet, Obesity , 2011.The study objective was to evaluate the effect of prescribing a low-carbohydrate diet (LCD) and a low-fat diet (LFD) on food cravings, food preferences, and appetite. Obese adults were randomly assigned to a LCD (n = 134) or a LFD (n = 136) for 2 years. Cravings for specific types of foods (sweets, high-fats, fast-food fats, and carbohydrates/starches); preferences for high-sugar, high-carbohydrate, and low-carbohydrate/high-protein foods; and appetite were measured during the trial and evaluated during this secondary analysis of trial data. Differences between the LCD and LFD on change in outcome variables were examined with mixed linear models. Compared to the LFD, the LCD had significantly larger decreases in cravings for carbohydrates/starches and preferences for high-carbohydrate and high-sugar foods. The LCD group reported being less bothered by hunger compared to the LFD group. Compared to the LCD group, the LFD group had significantly larger decreases in cravings for high-fat foods and preference for low-carbohydrate/high-protein foods. Men had larger decreases in appetite ratings compared to women. Prescription of diets that promoted restriction of specific types of foods resulted in decreased cravings and preferences for the foods that were targeted for restriction. The results also indicate that the LCD group was less bothered by hunger compared to the LFD group and that men had larger reductions in appetite compared to women. ( www.atkins.com//Science/Articles—Library/Scientific-Review-Articles/Change-in-Food-Cravings,-Food-Preferences,-and-App.aspx )Bottom line and number one reason that Atkin’s, or other low-carbohydrate diets work for so many people is that following this plan decreases appetite and cravings. In addition to the normal habituation of humans to keep choosing the same things to eat as routine, a high-sugar (and thus high-carb) diet) causes a spike in insulin production to deal with the increase of blood sugar levels. Once this is dealt with by the body, however, it’s a quick fix, like a drug, that the body will want to recreate. When you’re really hungry for steak, or chicken, but keep getting served bread, you will still be hungry, or will be very soon. Why? That’s not what your body needed. The body needs hydration, protein, and the carbohydrates that come from vegetables and fruits. In nature, you find no loaves of bread hanging from trees. Starchy, rooty vegetables like potatoes have their place, and rice is a staple food in many cultures, but there are other differences there, and calories also DO count. If all you have is rice and a few veggies, with very little meat or anything else, and your life is not spent on the couch, or behind a desk, you will probably not have an obesity problem. But in America, we have it all. Most of us get plenty of protein in addition to lots of carbs, and we just eat too much, If we could all just cut back on portions and eat sensibly, nobody would be obese . As it turns out, most of us have a hard time keeping those portions under control. Salts and sugars trigger appetite. A high dose of refined sugar and fat is to our bodies, based on ancient evolutionary survival instincts, a strange and wonderful boon to the diet. Not encountered in natural life, it tastes wonderful. It assures the body that starvation is not a concern. But in the event it could be, better eat up as much of this wonderful stuff as quickly as possible and a-plenty! Granted, I am oversimplifying. There is much more to it than that. Concentrated sugar consumption releases endorphins and dopamine into the brain, giving us a rush. Low endorphin levels cause the cravings. If we keep programming our bodies to live from rush to rush, you can see the results.
Food and Endorphins
Certain foods have a direct effect on ones mood. Like exercise and meditation, food such as cookies, cake, chocolate, candy (known as pleasure foods) can bring a person out of the worst mood. This occurrence is not simply due to the delightful sensation of dessert on the tongue together with the awakening of our taste buds. It is largely due to the chemical reaction that occurs in our brain when we eat sugar. The signal causes the body to release endorphins and dopamine giving the consumer a sense of exhilaration, otherwise known as a sugar rush. The addiction felt by those who eat these types of foods regularly is the result of the body craving not only the sugar, but also the wonderful euphoric feeling that is brought on by the brain’s reaction to the sugar being consumed.
Low endorphin levels make us crave fatty foods and or sweet foods.
High concentrations of endorphins in the brain produce a sense of euphoria, enhance pleasure, and suppress pain, both emotionally and physically. When endorphins are low, people feel anxious; they are also more aware of pain. They have an appetite for fat and fatty foods, such as fries, cheese, creamy sauces, margarine, butter, fried chicken, potato chips, and chocolate, to name some of the most popular examples. Upon eating some fat, they will notice a change in mood, feeling more pleasure. This feeling is related to a higher concentration of endorphin. Exercise, by releasing fat from within the body, raises endorphins and causes the same mood changes. ( http://www.academyofwellness.com/the-connection-between-endorphins-pheromones-dopamine-and-serotonin-in-food-cravings/ )
Noting above, for many of us, food has left its normal realm of providing a pleasant source of fuel for the body, and entered the pure pleasure zone. It was not intended that food should be a drug for us. Bad things result. We all get hungry, we all want to enjoy something good, but when does that become an obsession? An addiction? Is it wrong? Only if you’re concerned for your health and well-being. Only if you see the problem with being a slave to food.
Luckily, keeping the sugars to a minimum, and that includes starches, which convert quickly to sugar, goes a long way toward solving these problems. Once you stop feeding the addiction, the path gets much easier to follow. Like any ex-junkie, though, the temptation may always linger in your mind, even when the physical addiction is over. Hence the smoker who starts smoking cigarettes again after a year of staying free of them.
Why Atkin’s is more of a lifestyle than a “diet”. The science tells us that by focusing on protein and greens, the body is forced to burn fat. People get confused on this point, wondering why the body will burn fat if you’re eating roast and bacon, and other fatty meats and cheeses. After all, those foods are high in calories, too! It’s because your body converts its fuel burning furnace to accommodate what is coming in. Your body will switch, in about 5 days, when limiting carbs severely, into a fat-burning machine. That means the fats you eat, and the ones you’ve stored. The science is becoming overwhelmingly heavy in favor of low-carb diets, but the people still aren’t listening. You eat MORE vegetables, fiber, and fruit. You have LESS food cravings for the unhealthy foods, and ultimately, you can begin to add back in some of your old favorites, but only if you can maintain some control. I may never be able to eat certain foods that are triggers for me. I am not sure I would stop before I ate too much, and just gave in and ate everything I wanted. The donut is a good example. Just one? I’d rather have none. A bite? Maybe. Ice cream that isn’t low-carb? No, except for my birthday. I can have alternatives- like sugar free fro yo. A sacrifice only if you are feeling deprived. Deprived of what? Soaring blood sugar and pants sizes?
Check out the science pages at Atkins.com, but look at their listed sources for more information if you feel that the information would be biased. Also look at the myths VS realities section.
My family doesn’t understand. Some are kids. They eat, they run and play, they love their sugar. One day it will catch up to them if they don’t change their ways. For now, the exercise is almost daily, and they won’t get fat, but their energy levels and health could be improved now, while also setting up good lifelong eating habits, if they didn’t drool over sugar. Watch your kids today when they eat. You feed them. How often do YOU have the healthy choice but let the kids eat chicken nuggets and chips and soda, because they’re kids and it won’t ‘hurt them’. You’re setting them up for a potentially poor future. The harder it is to get them to eat right, the more proof it is that they needed to be steered in the right direction. It will take planning and commitment on your part, as parents, to not only set good examples, but to put away the sugar-LOADED pop, Sunny D, and greasy french fry-nugget-burger-grilled cheese combo, and yes, not too much pizza either. Make them have a nice sized salad (not pudding and fruit only!) WITH the pizza. No salad, no pizza. Period. Stop feeding junk to them out of convenience’ sake.
The husband was raised as a carbo-loading athlete. He maintained a skinny, lean runner’s build. It was genetic. So is high cholesterol in his family, too. However, 40 year old bodies are not 18. His idea is just ‘moderation with junk food’, yet he has to fight temptation hard, and takes cholesterol meds. It would never occur to him to eat real butter and less starches for better health .Oh, yes, and more pure, natural vegetables. I think he’s adopted some of my ways lately, though. I can eat more than him and maintain 125. He skimps along with sandwiches, light soups, crackers,oatmeal, etc. and is having to be very careful. He is amazed and appalled to see me eat huge salads with bacon and dressing and lose weight. In his mind, fat AND sugar is the enemy. Yet, I consume more than he does. He is a 190 lb guy living on maybe 1500-1800 calories a day. Crazy! Why doesn’t the weight fly off? Read the Atkin’s science and find out.
Type 2 Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes: Well, I am a grocery checker. I see what people buy and it all makes perfect sense. The people who are mostly of a normal weight, have a lot of fresh food and produce in their carts, olive oil, nice real cheese, milk, eggs, and light or Greek Yogurt, Treats may be there but they are kept to a calculated minimum. You’ll see dark chocolate, one container of ice cream, perhaps, Things like breakfast cereal and chips are for the kids. (sorry, Kids).
Then there’s the Chub- Fatasski Family- Chips, Ding-Dongs, Capt. Crunch, Sunny D., fried chicken from the deli, cupcakes, processed cheese, Kraft Mac n Cheese, Ramen by the caseload, canned chili, frozen Banquet and Stouffer meals, etc., etc. bacon, eggs, and TONS OF POP!! Then all the bread products, including rolls, white bread, cinnamon rolls, cheap ice cream by the tub. They buy more, they get less, they spend the same.
If you are approaching diabetes, are very overweight, and can barely move or breathe, forget cutting calories. Unless you have the will of IRON, you will fail. Try low-carb AND walking at first. Then up the exercise. Start eating more green, red, and yellow veggies! Get the Atkin’s book and take charge of your blood sugar levels by eating LOW-GLYCEMIC foods. I hope this helps.