Have you tried every diet and still are yo-yoing? Have you lost weight and then gained even more back? 

We receive so much bad information telling us to eat less, exercise more and watch our calories. 

As most of us hopefully have learned by now, that’s the perfect storm for unsuccessful sustainable weight loss.

First and foremost, we need to make certain our body is properly nourished with micro-nutrients, which are vitamins and minerals that are essential for growth and metabolism.

If we’re not receiving adequate micronutrients, we enter into what Dr. Joel Furhman, author of the highly recommended books Eat to Live and The End of Diabetes, calls toxic hunger.

What is toxic hunger? Well, first a brief lesson on metabolism that I’m borrowing largely from Dr. Furman because he explains it so articulately.

This is extremely important to understand so I advise you to read it slowly. I’ve written it in the simplest terms possible:

There are 2 parts of metabolism: 

1. The anabolic phase, when we eat and digest to build our body.

2. The catabolic phase, when we’re breaking down what we ate and living off of what we saved when we stored our food. 

This is represented in the analogy when we fill up our car with gas (anabolic phase) and drive away (catabolic phase).

The catabolic phase is when we heal, detoxify and repair, which can be very uncomfortable because our body is circulating toxins for removal. 

This catabolic phase is particularly uncomfortable if we’re prone to eating:

  • Processed and refined foods
  • Large portion sizes
  • Foods with pesticides and hormones
  • Other foods that do not meet our micro-nutrient needs

These foods cause the build up of free radicals, which cause even more toxicity.

In order to stop the discomfort, we start to eat, which puts us back into the anabolic phase. Now that we ate, we feel better, which makes us think we were hungry. That’s called Toxic Hunger.

When we stop eating, we feel withdrawal symptoms, which means discomfort, which makes us want to eat again. In other words, many of us are addicted to eating, which is a major reason for obesity.

Toxic hunger is not true hunger. So what is true hunger?

First a brief discussion of brain metabolism:

The brain utilizes approximately 90% of our caloric needs. We burn approximately 50 calories per minute when we’re not exercising so the brain uses approximately 45 of those calories.

The brain can only be fueled by glycogen. When glycogen, which is converted into glucose, is used up, the body can break down muscle tissue to make glucose for the brain. It can not burn fat to make glucose for the brain. You can use fat for exercise and activity, but not for the brain’s use.

The body doesn’t want to break down muscle tissue. It would prefer that we eat. So, when the glycogen is used up, we feel genuinely hungry, which feels like a heightened sense of taste in the mouth and throat.

Our bodies are very intelligent and know exactly what to eat to maintain our lean body mass so that we don’t use it to burn glycogen for the brain. Hunger, in other words, protects our lean body mass.

When we eat healthy, we do not experience catabolic discomfort. Our body will tell us exactly how much to eat and we will maintain our proper weight.

This means that when we’re overweight, we have eaten outside the demands of true hunger due to recreation and food addiction.

I also wanted to add that it generally takes most of us 4 hours to burn fat or approximately 3 hours for those of us with fast metabolisms. That means most of us should:

  • Eat breakfast and wait 4 hours
  • Eat lunch and wait 4 hours
  • Eat dinner and not eat after!

The secret to great health is achieving micronutrient adequacy so you get in touch w true hunger. 

If you’re finding it challenging getting off the toxic hunger cycle, contact me at lauri@embracingmyself.com