healthy body • weight loss
reason one: appetite “Adding an extra layer of warmth” might be an easy excuse for winter weight gain, but there’s a reason people tend to overeat in the colder months: The less time they spend outdoors, the less they’re exposed to the sunshine necessary for creating vitamin D in the body. This, says Tague, changes the brain’s biochemistry and can mix up the body’s appetite signals. “The brain recognizes the vitamin deficiency, for example, and it will send you out to get more food in an attempt to compensate,” he says. And unless the food is high in vitamin D, like salmon or tuna, the body won’t get what it needs and will send more appetite signals to the brain. “Then, the more weight you gain, the more the fat dilutes the fat-soluble vitamin D in the body and the levels drop further,” Tague says. “Then you crave more food, usually carbohydrates and gain more weight, so the problem gets worse.” A vitamin D deficiency, he says, is just one example of how brain biochemistry can affect a person’s appetite. And there’s
“Willpower generally isn’t an effective strategy for controlling appetite because appetite is not in the realm of willpower or character.” an important difference between appetite and hunger. Appetite, he says, is not stomach-growling physical hunger – it’s a lack of satiety, and really anything that motivates a person to consume calories. “Willpower generally isn’t an effective strategy for controlling appetite because appetite is not in the realm of willpower or character,” Tague says. “Studies have shown time and again that trying to manage appetite strictly with willpower, while ignoring the biochemistry of appetite signals in the brain, is ineffective.” What is effective, he says, is managing the levels of micro and macronutrients in the body. “You really need the whole spectrum of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids at the same time, along with a good overall nutrition plan,” he says.
While a multivitamin isn’t a magic pill for controlling appetite, it’s a start. But Tague says that in order for vitamins to truly be effective, people need to be aware of their bodies’ deficiencies so they can take appropriate supplements. Leigh Wagner, integrative nutritionist and registered dietitian at the University of Kansas Medical Center, believes biochemical testing is an important step before beginning a weight-loss program. “Sometimes people are deficient in zinc or vitamin D and will need a supplement. Or if someone is low in selenium we might recommend they eat a couple of Brazil nuts each day,” she says. “Biochemical testing is so beneficial because it helps you figure out exactly what your body needs to function at its best.”
3 reasons you’re not
(and none of them are willpower)