When Listening to Your Body Doesn’t Work
Mark’s Daily Apple
by Mark Sisson: Primal
Evolution: Change Within Weeks, Transformation in Mere Months
comes down to perceived energy and/or nutrient insufficiency. Your
body thinks that it needs more calories and more energy, and hunger
sets in to get you to eat the food that contains those nutrients.
Now, if perception matches up well with reality – if you truly do
need more nutrients – things are good. You need some food, you eat
some food, and you stop when you've had enough. In this situation,
to your body is a good idea. That's what all those Primal people
(including me) are talking about when they tell you to "just listen
to your body, maaaaaaan," because for those people, it truly is
that simple. Eliminating the excess
carbs, the refined sugar,
and the processed
seed oils while adhering to the other Primal
laws regarding exercise,
and all the rest was enough to right the ship.
not everyone. Sometimes perception does not match up with reality.
Sometimes your body thinks it needs more nutrients when it really
doesn't, for a variety of reasons. This isn't actually an example
of your body lying to you, since your body "believes" what it's
saying, but the end result is the same: you eat something that you
really don't need. It's a bit like how your friends and family who
worry about you eating all that fat
try to push bran muffins and whole wheat pasta on you. They're operating
under a fundamentally broken set of assumptions, but they mean well.
So, why does
this happen? What's going on when someone's sense of hunger is broken?
When doesn't listening to your body work?
When you can't
access your stored body fat.
Body fat is
stored energy; it's long-term, slow-burning
fuel that our bodies love to use, and should be able to use
very well. But what happens when you can't burn it very well?
You burn sugar
instead. After all, you need energy from somewhere, and research
shows that those who have the most problem with hunger – the obese
and the formerly obese – burn
more carbohydrate than fat, whereas those who generally don't
have much of an issue with hunger – the lean – burn more fat than
carbohydrate. Problem is, our ability to store glucose as energy
is inherently limited and dwarfed by our ability to store fat as
energy. We can store pounds and pounds of the latter, while the
former is perpetually scarce. We can keep only around 100 grams
of glucose on hand in the liver and 400 grams in the muscles, depending
on their size. That won't last very long, and once it's used up,
you need more food – especially if your ability to burn body fat
is impaired. When you need more food, you get hungry. If your body
is used to burning sugar, you're going to crave sugar. The resultant
sugar craving is very real, because sugar is what you "need," but
it's not what you need.
if you've had success losing weight with Primal eating, but still
have trouble curbing your appetite, this could explain why – you
may not be totally fat-adapted.
You can, and likely will, but it
will take time.
I said insulin is an indicator of nutrient availability in Monday's
post on carb feeds? Heck, some have even gone so far as to call
a "satiety hormone." After all, it can cross the blood-brain
barrier into the brain, where it interacts with various systems
to tell the body that food has been ingested and is currently digesting,
and that maybe you don't have to eat for a bit. Of course, that's
only the case if you're insulin sensitive. If you're insulin
resistant, your body/brain won't get the message that insulin
is trying hard to convey.
resistance promotes hunger. You eat, and insulin is released, but
your body tells you to eat some more despite the much-ballyhooed
ability of insulin to act as a satiety hormone.
addicted to junk.
What if you
weren't actually even phsyiologically "hungry"? What if your body
didn't think it was missing nutrients or fat or carbs – but rather
it just wanted another hit of that sweet, sweet junk food? Last
week, I showed how our brains
and bodies respond to pleasurable, tasty foods by secreting
endogenous opioids – brain morphine, really – that, together with
dopamine, cause you to want more of whatever food triggered those
secretions. This wasn't a problem back when we only had access to
real, whole foods like meat, plants, fruits, nuts, and roots, because
those foods didn't act as hyperstimuli of our reward systems. They
caused modest, appropriate opioid and dopamine responses in the
brain, promoting repeated consumption but not compulsive overconsumption.
Fast forward to today and it's a very different world full of people
doing odd food-related things that make absolutely no sense:
cans of Pringles and become immediately disgusted with themselves
for doing it. They're repulsed by the Twinkie even as it makes its
way into their gaping maw. They throw up in their mouth at the thought
of McDonald's "chicken" nuggets, yet find themselves in the drive-thru
after work, ordering a value meal despite themselves.
the rest of the article
to Lew's recent podcast with Mark Sisson
August 7, 2012
© 2012 Mark's Daily Apple
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