When The Hunger Beast Strikes


Every once in a while, I will experience hunger that never seems to subside, no matter how much I give into my body’s insistence on foraging for food throughout the day. Since this type of insatiable hunger is exceedingly rare for me, I generally will allow myself to indulge in greater amounts of fuel than what I would normally eat. I usually take strong hunger impulses as a sign that my body actually needs the fuel, and that I might be lacking in some nutrient. Sometimes a killer leg workout will spark this mad hunger, and other times it might be a cleaning spree which causes my appetite to ramp up.

I almost relish the times that my body craves food like this, because I am usually not too excited about food. When I was in my teens, I went through anorexia, and feared many foods. Though I became a bit of a foodie in my twenties, exploring gourmet foods whenever I could, I had to adopt an “eat-to-survive” attitude once I reached my thirties, as a result of the rigorous medical training I underwent. During medical school and internship, I lived by the credo, “Eat when you can, use the bathroom when you can, sleep when you can”.

Then in my forties, the world of competing caused me to fall in love with some of the foods which I had demonized back in my teens. Though I rarely cave into the powerful lure of chocolate, desserts, pizza, and fried foods, I definitely learned to appreciate them during my competitive years. These days, I can stock chocolate, nuts and nut butter in my house without fear that I will go hog wild constantly and consume them all in one sitting. They are even relatively safe when the hunger beast strikes.

When I experience hunger which I cannot satisfy, I do NOT turn to unhealthy foods. Instead, I keep eating clean meals like chicken and green beans. However, I will often feel just as hungry after eating a meal as I did when I reached for the meal in the first place! When that happens, I will wait about a half hour, then snack on something relatively healthy, such as a small handful of almonds, or some lowfat cottage cheese, in hopes that my hunger will abate.

However, all bets are off if the hunger beast is around on my carb spike day! There have been numerous times in which the two have coincided, and during which I have allowed myself to eat pasta, bread, a large amount of rice, or some other carbohydrate rich food. The aftermath of such a carb bump is that my weight will actually DECREASE 2 or 3 pounds the next morning. This is one of the reasons why I encourage clients to have a moderate bump in calories and carbs every now and then, to spark the metabolic furnace.

As long as the hunger beast comes around only rarely, and you are in tune with your body’s needs, you should be able to indulge it without any issues.

Skipping Meals Does NOT Work For Weight Loss


Yes, you read that title correctly. If you have been on one diet after another in an effort to try to lose those last 5, 10, 15, or however many pounds, perhaps losing some weight only to gain all of it back plus some bonus weight, then it is highly likely that you have damaged your metabolism via severe calorie restriction. There is a very good reason why the weight loss industry is so successful and why certain well-known weight loss programs keep their customers coming back. The reason has everything to do with severe caloric restriction which squashes metabolism.

Another common practice among those trying to lose weight is to skip meals in an effort to cut calories. As stated before, you wreak havoc on your metabolism when you skip meals by causing it to slow down. Why does this happen? When there is no food to break down, the body’s furnace slows down and becomes so sluggish that when you actually do eat something, your body is less equipped to break down the food quickly, so much of it is stored as fat. Depriving yourself of food also causes sharp drops in blood sugar, robbing you of energy and increasing insulin resistance. Increased insulin resistance over time can precipitate the development of diabetes.

Other consequences of skipping meals include the following:

• Malnutrition – If you do not feed your body regular, balanced meals, it is highly likely that you are depriving it of essential nutrients. Malnourished states can lead to weight gain, poor health and progression of disease over time.

• Poor concentration – This is due to the depletion of glycogen stores which occurs. The brain simply does not have enough fuel to run on, resulting in fogginess.

• Hunger pangs – When you skip meals, you may experience intense feelings of hunger along with anxiety, dizziness or nausea. In addition, such feeling may lead to overeating when you finally sit down to eat something. Loading the body with a large meal is overkill, and leads to poor digestion and absorption as well as increased storage in body fat stores.

Do yourself a favor and practice the following guidelines. If you do, you will be rewarded with a healthy weight for a lifetime.

1. Don’t skip meals.
2. Make sure to eat enough protein to sustain your energy levels and satisfy your hunger.
4. Commit to healthy meals.
5. When you turn to snacks, make sure healthy alternatives are available so you aren’t tempted to reach for a nutrient-poor convenience food.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Originally published on mensphysique.com on Monday, 01 October 2012

Corn Syrup
Corn sugar, or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as it is more commonly called, is the most common sweetener which is used in processed foods and beverages. In fact, HFCS comprises more than 40 percent of caloric sweeteners added to foods and beverages and is the sole caloric sweetener in soft drinks in the United States. It is adored by the food industry because it is extremely sweet, incredibly cheap, easy to transport and keeps foods moist. Like its chemical cousin table sugar (sucrose), it has raised eyebrows in the research world and prompted a growing body of studies which examine the manner in which the body processes it. The general consensus is that consumption of large quantities of any type of sugar is closely linked to dental cavities, obesity, malnutrition, and increased triglycerides. One study which was published in Metabolism Journal discovered that individuals who drank a beverage sweetened with HFCS had fructose blood levels five grams higher than those consuming a beverage sweetened with table sugar. This may not seem like much, but when you consider the cumulative effects, HFCS becomes a much more insidious dietary villain.

Fructose and GlucoseLet’s examine the composition of HFCS. This substance contains from 43 to 55 percent fructose with the remainder as glucose. In contrast, sucrose is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. Both are quite similar except when it comes to chemical bonds. When HFCS is made from cornstarch, the fructose molecules are not bound to other sugar molecules, while with sucrose, every fructose molecule is bound to a glucose molecule. When sucrose is ingested, it must undergo an extra metabolic step before the body can use it. With HFCS, the body reacts to the fructose readily. The problem is that fructose has no effect on glucose levels and insulin release (in other words, it skips glycolysis) and thus will not trigger the release of leptin (the hormone which signals your body to stop eating when it is full) nor create a feeling of satiety. This can lead to a higher caloric intake with a corresponding body weight increase. Basically, HFCS tricks the body into thinking it’s hungry when it may already be full.

Foods Containing Large Levels of HFCS
· Regular soft drinks
· Salad dressings
· Breakfast cereals
· Frozen yogurts
· Canned soups
· Canned fruits (if not in their own juice)
· Jarred and canned pasta sauces
· Bread
· Fruit-flavored yogurts
· Pancake syrups fruit juice and fruit drinks
· Popsicles
· Ketchup and barbecue sauces

Make sure to check ingredient listings, especially with the foods listed above, and try to avoid HFCS whenever possible.

How Emotional Eating Can Derail You From Your Fitness Goals

emotional-eating ice cream - Copy

Rather than discuss well-known emotional eating disorders such as bulimia, I will concentrate on binge eating which many women engage in from time to time.  It is important to recognize this behavior if it becomes a regular pattern, because frequent emotional eating warrants a diagnosis of binge eating disorder and requires treatment and intervention.

Binge eating is characterized by eating compulsively to cope with negative emotions and stressful situations.  A binge eater is rarely hungry when she begins to eat and will continue to eat well after she is full.  Such episodes can last for up to two hours or can occur off and on throughout the day.  The binger feels guilty both during and after the episode, but will not attempt to counteract it by fasting, taking laxatives, vomiting, fasting or over-exercising.  A strong lack of self-control as well as feelings of shame will accompany this behavior pattern.  There is a strong association between binge eating and depression.  Binge eating is also driven by social components such as social pressure to be thin, emotional and sexual abuse, parental criticism of a child’s weight, and the use of food as reward or punishment.

Food cravings are usually the strongest when you are in emotional crisis.  You may reach for food for comfort or to serve as a distraction.  Consider the following highly stressful events and think about whether you reached for comfort foods during such times:

  • Financial problems
  • Health problems
  • Work issues
  • Relationship issues
  • Fatigue
  • Family issues

Though some people will lose their appetites when stressed and will refrain from eating, many others will engage in impulsive eating in an effort to deal with negative emotions.  This may be relatively harmless if such emotional eating occurs on a very rare occasion, but becomes a serious problem when it is used as the only coping mechanism for stressful situations or negative emotions.  Just bear in mind that if you have a rare moment of weakness, it is important to recognize it as just that and to prevent yourself from spiraling into excessive feelings of guilt over the incident.  If you engage in an episode of emotional eating, learn to forgive yourself and have a fresh start the following day.

Why We Engage in Emotional Eating


What occurs almost invariably when we eat emotionally is that we turn to cookies, cakes, candy, fried foods and breads rather than to healthy foods.  There is a biochemical basis for such behavior.  Carbohydrates which are high in sugar or fat release dopamine in our brains which in turn stimulates the brain’s pleasure center, creating a sense of euphoria.  These foods are usually associated with pleasurable memories, such as cake which you may have looked forward to on your birthday, or macaroni and cheese as a treat after school when you were a child.


Food can also serve as a happy distraction from conflict or stressful events by stimulating the aforementioned pleasure centers.  What will frequently occur is that an excessive amount of these foods will be consumed.  However, if you remain aware of such automatic connections between food and mood and realize when you are eating for reasons other than hunger, you can break this cycle and get back on track with healthy eating habits which are associated with true hunger.


How To Combat Emotional Eating


  • Keep a food diary.  Get in the habit of writing down everything you eat and drink, including the quantity, the times at which you eat, your emotional state while eating the meal, and your level of hunger.  By doing this you may see patterns which will reveal your emotional relationship with food.


  • Remove tempting foods.  Avoid stocking comfort foods in your home if you find that they are difficult to resist.  And by all means avoid making trips to the grocery store if your emotions are spiraling out of control!


  • Practice stress management.  Yoga, meditation, and relaxation techniques are effective methods of managing your stress.


  • Determine whether you are truly hungry.  Many times people may believe they are hungry when in reality they are actually emotionally distraught and desperately searching for a way to defuse such emotions.


  • Make sure you consume adequate calories.  Individuals who are trying to lose weight will often restrict their calorie intake too much, and will turn to the same foods in an effort to remain on track without rewarding themselves with an occasional treat.  Adding variety to your meal plan will also help to keep you on track.


  • Distract yourself.  If you get an urge to snack when you aren’t truly hungry, distract yourself by watching a movie, calling a friend, reading, listening to music, or taking a walk.


  • Consume healthy snacks.  If an urge to snack between meals strikes, choose a low-calorie snack such as vegetables with seasoned nonfat Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, low fat cottage cheese or rice cakes.


  • Get enough sleep.  Getting enough sleep is an important component in decreasing cravings for comfort foods.


  • Eat at regular intervals.  Consume smaller meals every three to four hours to keep you from feeling hungry or deprived.


  • Focus on the experience of eating.  Learn to eat in a mindful manner, in which you pay attention to your meal and only your meal.  Become aware of the sensations associated with eating.


  • Reward yourself.  It is both physically and emotionally unhealthy to practice excessive calorie restriction for prolonged periods.  Allow yourself to have a favorite food or meal once each week.


  • Connect with your emotions.  When a food craving hits during an emotional time, write down the emotions you are experiencing, such as sadness, loneliness or anger.


  • Seek professional help if emotional eating is frequent.  There are countless support groups which you can join which will help you to develop insight as well as the skills to avoid engaging in such behavior.


One last note: make sure to get vital nutrients into your diet on a daily basis. I recommend taking a multivitamin several times a day to optimize absorption, and my favorite is SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber. SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber Multivitamin delivers high bioavailability on a three time dosing regimen each day and is suitable for everyone, but it is especially great for individuals who tend to experience intestinal discomfort from multivitamin formulas.

You can order .40 Caliber directly from the website: http://swatfuel.com/products.aspx