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Old 06-09-2004, 05:25 PM   #1  
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Default Satiety - Problems & Possible Solutions

Satiety - Problems & Possible Solutions
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The mechanics involved with fat and weight loss are quite simple: eat less energy (calories) than you expend. However, in order to reach or maintain your fat loss goals, your body and mind must have a sense of fullness and satisfaction from the foods and liquids that you consume. But if the achievement of your desired body leaves you hungry and lethargic, the likelihood of you being successful long-term is remote at best. In modern society it is a fact that few people live hungry forever, especially when food is easily accessible, tantalizing and plentiful. One thing is true: if you cannot live the lifestyle it took to get in shape, you will not stay in shape.
Satiety is defined as a state or condition of sufficiency or satisfaction; the full gratification of appetite or thirst resulting in the elimination of the desire to consume more food or liquid. The mechanisms of satiety are quite complex, numerous and on the whole, poorly understood.

Why do I get hungry?
At this time we should distinguish between hunger and appetite. Hunger is the true, physiological need for nourishment. Appetite, however, is simply the desire to eat, and has nothing to do with the need to eat.

Why do we feel the need to eat?
Messages sent to the brain by the body (hormonal, enzymatic, etc.) that it is hungry and in need of nourishment (physiological) Learned associations or habits with food and fluid ingestion (good or bad) (psychological).

Problems and Possible Solutions - Internal Cues to Eat (Physiological)

Problem: Eat to survive
Humans are designed to consume food and fluid until the nutritional needs of tissues and organs are fulfilled (i.e., adequate blood sugar, liver glycogen repletion). This is not however, our only mechanism for satiety. If it were our only mechanism for satiety, our desire to eat would end immediately after consuming what we needed, rather than continuing to eat due to the presence of external cues (palatable food, social setting, anxiety, etc). Newborns up to six weeks old may be the only true depletion-driven eaters. They eat only the amount they need and only when they need it because they have not yet had food-related experiences.
Possible solution
To maintain current body composition, the amount of energy we expend must match the energy we consume. With the goal of fat loss, the caloric deficit must be as small as possible to assist with a maximal level of satiety.

Problem: Innate craving for sweetness
Nearly all humans are born with a craving for sweetness. Newborns are a perfect example of this fact. Obviously, without learned eating behaviors, a newborn responds positively to sweetness (e.g., mother's milk), and negatively to bitterness. These biases were probably at one time necessary for our species' survival. Bitterness tends to be correlated with toxins and sweetness with energy, favoring the bias for sweetness. This innate human characteristic causes us to crave sweets even when we are not hungry. Unfortunately, food manufacturers prey upon this natural craving to lure customers into consuming more than necessary (i.e., eating dessert after a large meal, delicious, nutritionally useless foods).
Possible solution
Eat meals consisting of agreeable percentages of protein, fat, carbohydrate and fiber, at least three to four times a day (depending on total caloric intake allowed). Each of the aforementioned nutrients triggers it's own satiety mechanism. Collectively, when consumed at each meal, they may initiate and prolong satiety better than if they were consumed alone. Additionally, if the desire for something sweet follows the consumption of a full meal, either satisfy the craving with a low-calorie dessert (e.g., frozen yogurt, fruit, etc.) or ignore it. Just because one feels the desire to consume something does not mean that the body needs it. The desire will usually subside about 30 minutes after the meal as the internal satiety cues are triggered and received by the brain.

Problem: Inherent set point
Evidence is accumulating that genetics may influences the chances of an individual becoming fat or what body fat percentage they will settle into as an adult. The idea that genetics can influence adult body weight or fat is part of the set-point theory, which essentially means that attempts to sway from this level of fatness or weight result in the body taking steps to bring the person back. This can be accomplished by a combination of factors that have the effect of increasing food consumption, decreasing energy expenditure, or both. This is not to say, though, that genetics are a "death-sentence". Ultimately our lifestyle (eating and exercise habits) determines what degree of influence our genetics have.
Although your ancient ancestors may have had the same set point as you, it is unlikely that they reached it. Energy spent acquiring food and food preparation itself increased the energy cost of eating. Also, food was not as readily available as it is today, making chronic overfeeding unlikely. Today, we drive a car to the grocery store and buy prepared foods, reducing our energy cost of eating. Genes also get the opportunity to express themselves because of our sedentary lifestyles. Unless you are an ultra-endurance athlete, your daily activities pale in comparison to those of your ancestors. We are dealing with internal wiring made for a world where food was not plentiful or readily available and energy expenditure was high. Tiring of this we changed our environment. However, we have not been successful in changing our physiology. Our bodies have been designed to "save for a rainy day", if you will. The problem is, in today's society, that rainy day does not come.

Possible solution
Your current lifestyle dictates your current body. You must adhere to the principles of your customized plan, which means making gradual changes and incorporating a realistic amount of work with realistic, convenient foods. Upon achievement of your goal, maintaining your body composition is dependent on whether or not you like the lifestyle you adopted to achieve it. At times, vanity and health can help defeat an appetite not conducive to the goal, but the bottom line remains the sameyou must be addicted to your new lifestyle.

Problems and Possible Solutions - Learned Eating Cues (Psychological)
Following the newborn period, an increasing number of experiences with food begin to influence or create learned eating behaviors. These behaviors interact with our purely physiological signals in order to control appetite and satiety. These learned cues are created in part by our parents, culture, commercial influences, etc. Keep in mind these are learned cues, and as such, they can be unlearned.

Social or ritual eating
We often drink and eat when we are not truly hungry. Holiday feasting, going out after dinner for drinks with friends and consuming buttered popcorn throughout a movie are but a few examples of eating as a result of environmental influences instead of hunger.
Possible solution
Eat a healthy snack before attending an event. People make bad food choices when they are hungry. Eating properly throughout the day will assist with making wiser food choices and early termination of the above-mentioned ritual foods.

Problem: Judging foods for content Some people avoid foods or stop eating them before the "plate is clean" because of presumed caloric content (i.e., how they believe the food will affect their physique, health, religious or economic concerns). Some people will consume for an extended period of time for the same reasons.
Possible solution
Consume good foods regularly, but do not deprive yourself of "fun foods" just because you think they will make you fat. Anything in moderation will not significantly interrupt your progress.

Problem: Habitual consumption
Eating behaviors and patterns developed during youth, passed on to you by your parents or peers, will affect your choices throughout life. High-calorie foods and desserts after meals may not have been a problem during youth when energy expenditure was high, but now forced into less activity in order to make a living in adulthood, these behaviors lead to energy storage (i.e., fat). Additionally, ethnic groups mainly consuming foods indigenous to their culture for many generations develop a digestive physiology (e.g., enzymes) that is compatible with the food they eat. Therefore, changing foods, if necessary, may be unpleasant until one's digestive tract adapts to the new food choices.
Possible solution
Gradually incorporate changes into your current way of eating. Eat foods you like within your new adult caloric allotment.

Can your mood affect your appetite or more specifically, a craving for a particular food (e.g., chocolate)? There has been a fair amount of research in the area of food, mood and appetite, but any conclusions drawn from this data have had little effect on our society's expanding waistline.

Thankfully, no one must be stuck with sinful food cravings for life. Ask a friend who has reached and maintained a fat loss goal. Often you will find that the baked potato dripping with butter, fast food hamburgers, sauces and milkshakes they used to enjoy, no longer taste good and may even be considered unappetizing. This is because they are addicted to healthy, lower-calorie, high-volume foods that allow them to look and feel great. This individual will not allow anything to interrupt this feeling. In other words, they unlearned these food-craving behaviors and replaced them with positive and beneficial eating habits.

Possible Solution
Incorporate some of your foods cravings into a healthy diet.

The level where regular satiety occurs will vary for each individual, influenced by their genetic predisposition (set point) and learned eating behaviors (environmental stimulus for eating). In today's environment, people often consume food or drink even though they are not hungry because of the setting, type of food or habit (learned). Additionally, at some level, people are not regularly satiated until they reach a certain body fat percentage or weight, and then, internal or physiological cues direct them to maintain that daily energy intake. This causes the body fat level to remain fairly constant (physiological). This may take place at a low, moderate or high body fat percentage, depending on familial characteristics. Learned behaviors may override this internal mechanism creating a weight control problem. Ultimately though, we are all responsible for what we eat, and what amount of movement we do in a day. Finding a balance of sensible choices and behaviors and enjoyment is the key to long-term success.
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