Three ‘Brain Nutrients’ That Zaps Hunger
Contributed by Josh Bezoni-Certified Nutritionist
Excess cravings is the #1 reported problem of all diets. And let’s face it, no eating program is going to help you lose body flab if you can’t first control your cravings.
That’s the bad news; the good news is that I discovered 3 rather unusual ‘craving-killing’ brain nutrients that are backed by a great deal of scientific research.
And when you use these nutrients in the correct amounts, you really can quickly get control of your cravings and excess hunger. Just be sure to use them in conjunction with a good eating and activity program like my Belly Fat Free Diet. (By the way, please don’t be fooled into thinking any nutrient is going to magically make your belly fat disappear without following a healthy lifestyle. We all know that’s just not true.)
Here are the 3 rather odd-sounding nutrients that science says can actually “take over your brain” and shut down cravings.
Brain Nutrient #1: 5-HTP and the Serotonin Connection
5-HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid. In the body it is converted into a “brain chemical” (a neurotransmitter) called serotonin that controls feeling of fullness and well-being. When your serotonin levels are low… excess cravings occur. So 5-HTP can naturally raise these serotonin levels to squelch cravings and “balance your brain.”
According to Michael T. Murray, N.D., a highly regarded leading authority on natural medicine, “5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that is the intermediate step between tryptophan and the important brain chemical serotonin. There is a massive amount of evidence that suggests that low serotonin levels are a common consequence of modern living. The lifestyle and dietary practices of many people living in this stress-filled era results in lowered levels of serotonin within the brain. As a result, many people are overweight [and they], crave sugar and other carbohydrates…”
He then goes on to say. “All of these maladies [problems] are correctable by raising brain serotonin levels.” Pretty powerful stuff!
Several studies have shown a benefit for 5-HTP in weight loss. All studies reported decreased appetite, decreased carbohydrate intake and overall weight loss. Studies ranged from 5 to 12 weeks, and diets were not restricted.(1,2,3) Take 30 minutes before a meal for best results.
Brain Nutrient #2: Phenylalanine– A Natural appetite Suppressant
Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that acts as an appetite suppressant in the body by increasing the release of an intestinal hormone, called cholecystokinin (CCK), which signals the brain to feel full and satisfied after eating.
Cholecystokinin (CCK) is released as food enters the stomach after you eat. It tells the digestion to slow down and then gives the message to the brain that you are full so your hunger and cravings naturally decrease. This takes around 20 to 30 minutes.
Phenylalanine is found in foods including almonds, avocados, bananas, brown rice, cheese, corn, eggs, fish, lima beans, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and soy products.
However, the problem is, you’d have to eat lots of extra calories in order to get an amount that would decrease your cravings. This is why phenylalanine is much more effective when used as a nutritional supplement.
If you take phenylalanine 30 minutes to one hour before eating a meal, you’ll notice that you’ll feel full faster—so you don’t fill up on extra calories that move to your waistline. And not only that, you’ll stay full longer so you don’t get that late afternoon or after-dinner snack attack.
Brain Nutrient #3: Tyrosine – The Brain Hormone Booster
Tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid that is not produced by the body so you must get it through supplementation or food. It is found in small amounts in sources such as soy products, chicken, turkey, fish, peanuts, almonds, avocados, milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.
Here’s how Tyrosine works to reduce cravings: when you’re stressed, you may notice a significant increase in cravings. This happen because stress tends to “use up” key brain chemicals called neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine.
Your body uses Tyrosine to create more of these neurotransmitters. This, in turn, helps to fight cravings by creating a balance in the brain. What’s more, Tyrosine can increase production of thyroid hormones, which influences the number of calories you burn.
So there you have it: my 3 top ‘brain nutrients’ to kill cravings.
An important point I want to mention is that these nutrients are much more potent together than by themselves. We scientists call this a synergistic effect: the sum total of the ingredients is more powerful than their individual parts. What’s even more exciting is the research indicates these nutrients are effective regardless of age, ability, or physical condition. In fact, the older and more out of shape you are, the more improvement you are likely to see.