Stomach grumbling? And you JUST ate?
After chowing down on your white bread sandwich filled with processed bologna and a side of salty potato chips, all washed down with some orange juice, you wonder why within the hour you’re once again craving something to munch on. This is most likely due to the fact that your lunch selection was filled with foods that can actually make you hungrier!
Here are some foods that you might want to "expunge" from lunchbox (and diet in general) to avoid that "I am so hungry, but I just ate" feeling...
Pizza: White flour, hydrogenated oils, processed cheese, and lots of preservatives. Who can resist eating more than one slice of this high-calorie, nutritionally void, yet addicting pie? Even just eating one slice can throw off blood sugar levels, which interrupts production of hunger regulating hormones. If you’re craving pizza though, try your hand at making your own with healthier swaps, such as whole-wheat dough, lots of vegetables and low-fat, minimally processed cheese
Cereal: Most cereals are just white flour dusted in sugar, so why cereal has been deemed the "breakfast of champions" is anyone’s guess. If anything, cereals should be regarded as the "breakfast of sluggishness" for the high content of sugar that causes an intense blood sugar and insulin roller-coaster, eventually leading to fatigue and more hunger. If cereal is your only option though, try and purchase one that has less than 5 grams of sugar per serving.
White Bread and Pasta: The flour used in white bread is stripped of all its nutritional benefits, including fiber. Thus this type of bread is a nutritional dud. A recent study found that those who ate two or more servings of white bread a day were 40 percent more likely to become overweight or obese over a five-year period. This can be blamed mostly on the fact that your insulin levels will spike quickly after consumption, causing you to crave even more of the white stuff.
Sushi Rolls: You may think you’re doing yourself a favor by eating sushi - hello, healthy fish, right? But these days, there is far more rice than fish packed in these neat rolls and some rolls don’t even contain any of the heart-healthy fish. Take California rolls for example. These rolls contain upwards of 30 grams of carbohydrates, which is like eating three slices of white bread! And you now know that is not ideal for your appetite or diet.
Juice: Would you like a glass of sugar with a small side of fruit? Because that is essentially what you get when you drink juice. As you know, ingesting sugar does nothing but cause your blood sugar levels to rise then plummet fast, thus bringing on the hunger! If you’re a juice fan, make your own with the fiber-containing pulp, and add some sugar-free protein powder to the mix for more staying power.
Artificial Sweeteners: You may think you’re doing yourself a favor by opting for the fake sugar instead of the real stuff, but you’re actually not. While these fake sugars have a trivial amount of calories, they tend to make you crave "real" sweets throughout the day and can eventually affect the hunger control centers in your brain negatively. Plus, how many of you have used a fake sweetener to save calories, only to allow yourself to eat that small bowl of ice cream because you were so "good" earlier?
MSG: Monosodium glutamate is notorious for being found in ethnic food, and it can also be located in canned vegetables, soups, processed meats, and even ice cream. The journal Obesity discovered that people who consume the most MSG are nearly three times more likely to be overweight than those who don’t eat it. According to animal studies, experts believe this is due to a 40 percent increase in appetite just from eating MSG!
Fast Food: White flour, MSG, trans fatty acids, high fructose corn syrup, processed carbohydrates, need we say more? Fast food is a hormonal nightmare! It is not your friend when hunger pangs hit, so try your best to avoid it at all costs, or stick with the "healthier" options such as salads and grilled chicken.
Alcohol: Alcohol has a way of letting you easily say "good bye" to your willpower. One way it does this is by decreasing (by up to 30 percent) your body’s levels of leptin, a hormone designed to crush hunger and keep you feeling full. If you must have a drink, stick to just one, and try to eat a protein-rich snack to decrease alcohol’s numbing affects.
Salty Snacks: Salty snacks are the ultimate magicians. They disappear before your very eyes and you have no idea how it happened! Well, the truth is that these snacks are quickly digestable simple carbohydrates totally devoid of nutrition that you keep eating out of hope that they will fill you up. Instead, they spur insulin spikes that leave you craving more when you’re done. Salt also causes you to crave fizzy, sugar-filled drinks, which only intensifies your desire to eat more.
The bottom line is that if you want to control your appetite, it is much better to simply avoid all the foods mentioned above. If you don’t, you will be in a constant "battle" with your hormones and regretfully, unless you have incredible willpower, the hormones will win. The end result will be you consuming much more than you ever intended of that white bread sandwich, extra large bag of potato chips and orange juice.
A new study in BioEssays suggests that bacteria found in our intestines could be influencing our moods and cravings. The microbes in our digestive tracts need specific nutrients to grow. Instead of just using the nutrients that we consume, the bacteria makes us crave the nutrients that they easily thrive off of.
There are many kinds of bacterial species living in digestive tracts and they each prefer different nutrients, such as fats and sugars.
Although the exact process is unknown, researchers believe that the gut microbiome could be releasing molecules that influence our food choices. The gut is linked to the immune system, nervous system and the endocrine system, so when these signaling molecules are released, our physiological and even our behavioral responses could be influenced.
“Bacteria within the gut are manipulative," said Dr. Carlo Maley, a corresponding author to the study. "There is a diversity of interests represented in the microbiome, some aligned with our own dietary goals, and others not.”
Dr. Maley, continued saying that,"The good news is that it goes both ways, and the bacteria is easily altered. We can influence the compatibility of these microbes by deliberating changing what we eat with notable changes within 24 hours."
How exactly do our cravings change? Senior author Dr. Athena Aktipis explains the process, "Microbes have the capacity to manipulate behavior and mood through altering the neural signals in the vagus nerve, changing taste receptors, producing toxins to make us feel bad, and releasing chemical rewards to make us feel good."
Even though the research tells us that the gut bacteria behave very manipulatively when it comes to getting the nutrients they prefer, it also tells us that the microbiomes can be quickly altered when we make a determined change in our diet. Therefore, making conscious healthy decisions with your diet will begin to change what nutrients the bacteria prefer. Although these microbes influence us, we can influence them too.
The Mediterranean diet has proven beneficial to your overall health by lowering your cholesterol, managing your weight, and even putting you at a lower risk for heart disease and strokes. Now, a new study reveals that eating a Mediterranean diet can also slow the aging process.
The study, conducted by associate professor Immaculata De Vivo, measured the eating habits of 4,676 women between the ages of 40 and 72. After blood testing each of the participants, they discovered that women who ate a Mediterranean diet were more likely to age slower because they had longer telomeres.
Telomeres are protective "caps" at the end of your chromosomes that prevent them from unraveling. When your telomeres are intact, your genetic makeup is preserved. As we age, however, our telomeres become shorter and cause us to physically age.
The shortening of telomeres can also lead to liver damage or certain cancers. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking and obesity, can lead to the premature shortening of telomeres.
Although telomere shortening is irreversible, making healthier "lifestyle choices can help prevent accelerated shortening, and could balance out the 'bad effects' of smoking and obesity," says De Vivo.
The Mediterranean diet consists of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, olive oil, fish, and unsaturated fats. Although it frowns upon dairy, meat, and “bad” saturated fats, you can still drink wine with your meal.
This probiotic and antioxidant-rich diet has anti-inflammatory effects that not only preserve the length of your telomeres, but also "reduce overall mortality, increase longevity, and reduce incidence of chronic diseases, especially major cardiovascular diseases."
De Vivo and her team of researchers wish to continue to explore the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and hope to soon conduct this same study on men.
After exercising, it's essential to refuel your body with a combination of carbs to boost lost energy and protein to help your body repair muscle. Don't undo your hard-work with a something super-unhealthy. Instead, opt for one of these low-calorie bites...
Whey Protein Shake with Added Banana
Keep energy levels up post-workout with a protein shake made with whey protein, water, and a banana. It's quick and easy to make and will act as a fast energy boost – perfect for when you're heading straight to the office.
Hummus and Pita
For a savoury snack after the gym, reach for the hummus and pita bread. Opt for a a single wholemeal pita to help release energy into the body slowly, leaving you fuelled for hours. ¼ cup of hummus should be enough to to get your protein fix.
Berries and Low-Fat Yogurt
It may be simple; but it's satisfying. A small pot of low fat yogurt combined with a handful of berries will provide a boost of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and fiber. It's easy to mix up your yogurt flavors and switch up your berries to prevent boredom throughout the week too.
For a fuss-free snack after the gym look no further than the humble wholemeal turkey sandwich. The combination of protein from the turkey and carbohydrates from the bread is a winning formula. Add some shredded salad (minus the dressing) to pack in your daily quota of veggies.
Rice Cakes and Peanut Butter
Rice cakes are a store cupboard staple that help to fill you up fast. Top a couple of brown rice cakes with peanut butter, almond butter or low-fat cottage cheese for a substantial post-workout snack.