There is nothing like a red eye flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia to put you in the mood for the holidays. In just five hours the weather drops from 60 degrees to a lovely 15 degrees. Luckily, I enjoy the cold and Christmas is my favorite time of the year, so I decided to head home for the holidays. As I got home this morning I was greeted by an assortment of cookies. It turned out my mom just got done attending her annual Christmas cookie party and it seems that she brought back all the leftovers. As I write this there are over a dozen bags of cookies staring at me, begging me to take a bite. And I will admit it, I did enjoy myself a soft, chocolate chip cookie. But that was it, I closed the bag and put the rest away.  

Now, what if I told you there was a supplement out there that could help you say no to all the delicious sweets you are going to be exposed to this Christmas, would this be something that interests you?

Before going any further, let us go over a typical scenario that plays itself out over and over again in most households during the holidays. 

You just got done with a long day's of work and when you get home you look at the table and you see a plate of cookies from the other day. You know you aren't supposed to eat them. You know that sugars and fats are a destructive duo. Nevertheless, you reach towards the plate to grab one and take a bite. The cookie is soft, warm and filled with chocolate chips. You try to limit yourself to just one bite. But there is no hope, the first bite morphs into multiple bites and sometimes multiple cookies. If it this sounds like you, don't worry, this has happened to me 100s of times. 

So I ask you, If we know that sugar is bad for us, then why do we continue to eat it? 

Based off my experience as a personal trainer the most common responses are:

  1.  "I don't know, I just can't say no" 
  2. "I can have one, I burned enough calories"
  3. "One cookie won't hurt."  

And this is true, one cookie won't hurt, nor would four or five cookies. The problem arises when this happens multiple times per week with multiple food groups. Most people aren't eating  one cookie or limiting themselves to one cheat meal. Usually it is a daily occurrence and people are clueless to how to fix it. They get stuck in a viscous cycle repeating the same habits over and over again. Regardless if you have made these mistakes in the past, it doesn't matter anymore because I am going to teach you how to say no to those warm, delicious, gooey chocolate chip cookies and cure that sweet tooth of yours. 

Well the moment you have been waiting your whole life for, the cure for your sweet tooth. To figure out the cure, we must go back in time and look back at our ancestors. We all have inherited our genes from our ancestors and we either inherited low, moderate, or high neurotransmitter levels. For the sake of the article, I will focus on the serotonin neurotransmitter. Serotonin affects numerous aspects of the body including mood, appetite, sleep, memory and sexual desire.  Generally speaking, you will either have low, moderate or high levels of serotonin. Lower serotonin levels put you at the greatest risk for novelty seeking behaviors and food craving, while higher levels decrease your chances. You have less food craving and don't seek as much novelty. The easiest way to figure this out is by getting a DNA test through 23andme.com . I understand not everyone has money to spend on this type of testing. Luckily, we have the internet and there are some personality tests that can tell you your neurotransmitter profile (click here). Once you find out your neurotransmitter profile scroll down to the next paragraph.

As you know, Thanksgiving just passed, so most likely we have all heard of the amino acid, L Tryptophan, i.e the l-tryptophan in the turkey will cause you to be drowsy and eventually fall asleep. L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid (which means you can only obtain it from your diet ) and the precursor to serotonin. Unfortunately, the tryptophan in the turkey and other proteins doesn't get converted into serotonin because of the other amino acid blocking it. In order for tryptophan to convert into serotonin it must be the highest in the blood ( To learn more click here ). Thus, if you want to increase your levels of l-tryptophan then you have to reduce the amount of the other amino acids in the blood.  The healthiest way to do this is through exercise, especially resistance training. When you perform resistance training, the body sends all of the amino acids, except for tryptophan, into the muscle to repair the damage that has occurred from the workout. Since tryptophan is now left alone, it can now convert into serotonin. Furthermore, you can do this through supplementation or a high carbohydrate diet. When you consume high amounts of sugar, the body secretes insulin which pulls all the amino acids into the cell except for one, l-tryptophan,which is left alone to convert into serotonin. This spike in serotonin can become quite addicting for certain people, especially if they have lower levels of serotonin because the food will increase their levels, just like a drug. However, this "high" will wear off once there blood sugar drops they will seek the same stimulus (food) to increase their levels again. Nevertheless, we don't have to be at the mercy of our brain and our genetics. As I mentioned above, there are healthier and better ways to increase your serotonin levels than a high sugar diet. 

Hopefully by now, we are starting to see a correlation between L-Tryptophan and serotonin. Put simply, higher levels of tryptophan in the blood will lead to higher levels of serotonin.

But what does this have to do with saying no to delicious cookies? 

It turns out there are numerous studies suggesting the use of l-tryptophan can help reduce calorie intake, binge eating and cravings (1) , (2) , (3) , (4) .  Each study mentioned the increase in the serotonin receptor played a key role in reducing calorie intake, binging, and cravings. It is important to realize that someone with lower serotonin levels will garner greater effects than someone with higher levels. Remember, this is just one factor to why someone might overeat and binge on food. There could be much more to the story that we don't even know about, but for now this can serve as an experiment for you. Which I think is the coolest and smartest thing you can ever do because how are you supposed to know what works without ever testing it? So, run an experiment on yourself and see what you find. Keep in mind, the most important experiment is your own experiment (n=1). Remember, everyone is different and everyone will have different results, so I can't make any promises, but regardless of what happens you will learn more about yourself by actually doing it. Since I have started supplementing with l-tryptophan I have experienced less sugar cravings and better night's sleep.  You too can reap these benefits, as long as you follow the steps below.

 Sweet Tooth Cure Cheat Sheet

  1. Take 1 to 3 grams of tryptophan 30 to 60 minutes before bed
  2. Avoid consuming too much protein before bed and around L-tryptophan supplementation
  3.  Get 15 minutes of sunlight per day to increase serotonin levels
  4.  Exercise daily to increase serotonin levels
  5.  Limite electronics and blue light 30 to 60 minutes before bed or buy some sexy blue blocking glasses
  6.  Be in bed between 9pm to 11pm and sleep for 7 to 9 hours per night

Head to this article for more research on the subject : click here

BONUS: Action Plan #cookiemonsterchallenge

  1. For the next weeks, take 1-3 grams of L-Tryptophan before sleeping
  2. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. (This can be broken up into three 10 minute segments)
  3. Track how many desserts you eat in the week
  4. Repeat the same thing the following week but without the tryptophan supplementation
  5. Compare your results between the two weeks      

 


 

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