Only the uninformed or supremely arrogant (in other words people who’ve never had to battle weight issues) still believe that losing weight is a matter of self-control. Weight loss is complex and multi-factorial, so no one-size-fits-all approach will work for everyone. Weight loss isn’t calories in calories out like we used to think it was, it’s a biological and chemical process where calories count less than the quality and the balance of nutrients. Appetite and cravings are key drivers in this process, and not always in your favour.
Your body’s response to weight loss
When you start losing weight, your body think it’s starving and it sends out an all-systems alarm to make sure it retains nutrients. Your obvious defense against that is to make sure your diet is healthily balanced so that you still get all the nutrients you need. If all the nutrients are there, and you just cut out the bad stuff, your body’s response should only be a few days worth of sugar withdrawal.
If your body senses in any way that it is going to be deprived of nutrients, this response changes. It’s defense mechanisms are sneaky, and you can’t defeat them with logic, so you have to be sneaky too. One of the tools it uses to fight you when you try to cut back on it’s Willy Wonka existence is by stimulating a raging appetite and cravings. This false-appetite might push you in the direction of things you know you shouldn’t be eating by simulating cravings, or it might make you so hungry that you overeat and still feel like you can eat an hour later. You feel as if your appetite doesn’t have an off switch. The hunger or cravings don’t feel like a false signal either, they feel all too real.
This imbalanced appetite can be a failure button for you because you’re being chemically manipulated to obsess about food. Your naggingly present ‘appetite-craving’ is so consistent that it becomes overwhelming and you’re eventually going to give in. Will-power isn’t a practical tool to rely on here because its chemistry at work against you, not your character.
Fight chemistry with chemistry!
We’ve all heard “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.” This is the same. Use your commitment to success to be sneaky and first manage your chemistry. After that your will-power can help you to successful weight loss.
How to suppress appetite?
Protein or fat, and to a lesser extent fibre are all useful in managing appetite. That’s why you can lose weight on so many different types of diets. Protein has a small advantage over fat and fibre in that it balances blood sugar and it stimulates hormones that suppress your appetite. Of course, fat and fibre both have other advantages too.
You could eat a higher protein diet, but despite the pros, that also has cons. The simpler solution if you don’t want to change your macronutrients is to add gelatine to your food and drink. Gelatine is a protein, in fact, it’s an almost complete protein. It has a lot of protein’s benefits, and it’s cheap, portable and has limited calories. The idea is that you eat normal, healthy, balanced portions at meal times and use gelatine to manage hunger and cravings in between. Add a teaspoon of gelatine to a cup of hot water, tea or coffee and sip away as normal. It has little flavour, and, at worst, will be slightly sticky if you add too much. You can add gelatine to your food as well if you need the boost.
Your false hunger and craving signals are now naturally suppressed. See other and more detailed advantages of gelatine here.
Chemicals in control – what’s next?
Tip: If you still crave foods or have a raging appetite as described after a reasonable adjustment period, there might be something else going on. Maybe you have an underlying bio-chemical or bacterial issue? The same could be true if you’re doing everything right and still struggling on your own to lose weight. Then get help from someone trained to change your status quo.
I personally prefer a specialised nutritionist health consultant or a naturopathic or functional medicine practitioner because they understand the underlying systems and mechanisms. If you choose practitioners who advise regular use of chemicals like sweeteners and appetite suppressants to assist you, you’re possibly setting yourself up on a path to yo-yo dieting. (Get an insight into why here.) Studies prove that yo-yo dieting irrevocably lowers your metabolic rate and only targetted intervention can raise it again. Don’t go there in the first place, or stop the cycle now.
Be fair to yourself. The world wouldn’t be getting fatter if the old recipes worked. Try a fresh approach.