by Dr. Matthew Chircop
In the last article I posed the question "what if there was a way you could get some relief from this unrelenting hunger for days to weeks at a time?". Well, it turns out that there are some ways that you can get some relief from hunger, thereby preventing the inevitable binge and lifestyle relapse (and consequent weight regain). All four of these techniques involve essentially utilising the same mechanism – increasing leptin levels by intermittently increasing carbohydrate intake at regular intervals, in a controlled manner.
A successful diet, in the long-term, involves more than just eating less.
Leptin secretion from fat cells is triggered by all three of the macronutrients – fat, protein and carbohydrate. However, leptin levels are most sensitive to meal carbohydrate levels. So, the four ways that you can temporarily increase leptin levels even higher than normal all involve eating higher than normal amounts of carbohydrate (i.e. a “refeed”):
For better hunger control in the long-term, intermittently allow yourself to eat more carbohydrate (but in a controlled way).
The diet break is when, for 1 or 2 weeks (usually every 3 weeks to 3 months during a period of relatively restricted calorie intake), you allow yourself to eat almost maintenance calories (i.e. the calorie deficit shrinks to almost zero). I suppose you could also do this during a period of weight maintenance by cycling between higher and lower calorie intakes in a way that would result in zero net weight gain over the course of several months.
The cheat meal involves either one of three methods. One method advocates saving up your carbohydrate allocation for the day so that you can eat a larger than normal amount of carbohydrate in one meal. Another method involves switching some of your macronutrients around, substituting some protein and fat for extra carbohydrate, thereby allowing you to eat a larger than normal amount of carbohydrates in one meal. The final method involves ignoring your usual daily calorie allocation, and allowing yourself to eat as much low-to-medium glycaemic index carbohydrates as you feel like in one meal.
Whichever "refeed" method you choose, you should still watch your portion sizes and allocate your calories appropriately.
Intermittent fasting involves prolonging your overnight fast several days of the week, by not eating a meal until after your normal lunch time. In this way, it is possible to consume a larger amount of carbohydrates over a shorter period of time, even though the total carbohydrate intake over 24 hours is the same as a usual day.
Carb cycling involves calculating the baseline calorie intake for the week, then allocating calories to each day of the week based on whether or not you are training on that day, with training days being allocated more calories (usually in the form of carbohydrate) than non-training days. Usually, there are anywhere from 2-4 high carbohydrate days per week.
I suspect that the underlying mechanisms behind the alleged success of each of these methods for long-term weight control relate to the temporary relief from hunger due to the surge in leptin levels after the high-carbohydrate meal, as well as the other biological effects of higher leptin levels (e.g. improved levels of testosterone, improved mood, improved levels of thyroid hormone, less metabolic slowing and higher general activity levels).
Contact us if you would like to learn more about our meal plans to help your lose those pesky last few kilos.
We design personalised meal plans that contain recipes with food that you tell us you like - you don't have to deny yourself of the tasty food you love (help to reduce your STRESS).
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