Five Dietary Tips To Improve Willpower & Avoid Weight Loss Pitfalls

Five Dietary Tips To Improve Willpower & Avoid Weight Loss Pitfalls

“Doubt has always existed. Even for athletes,” –The Art of Fielding

Don’t let common dietary pitfalls that compromise willpower keep you from reaching your training or weight loss goals. Research shows that inadvertently eating the wrong thing, eating foods that contain sneaky “bad” chemicals, and specific nutrient deficiencies are the most common errors people when trying to lose fat and gain muscle.

Even the most well-intentioned diets can compromise brain function and hormone response. Nutrient deficiencies affect how your brain works, which can lead to loss of willpower or poor motivation. One result is self-doubt and the inability to go the distance to reach your goals.

If you don’t eat right while on a fat loss diet or intense training program, your willpower will be shot and you will succumb to cravings and poor workouts. Eat adequate protein and get other nutrients that support optimal brain function to avoid this. By doing so you will improve focus and drive, while avoiding pitfalls to get results.

Tip #1: Eat Protein For Breakfast

Skipping breakfast and not eating adequate protein first thing in the morning sets you up for poor brain function, bad mood, and distractibility from your goals. A quality protein breakfast is one of the simplest, healthiest things you can do for yourself because it will prime the chemicals that send messages in the brain throughout the day.

A high-protein breakfast elevates dopamine, acetylcholine, and other neurotransmitters more than a high-carbohydrate breakfast of cereal, orange juice, and banana. A protein-based breakfast gives the brain a moderate, but consistent energy source. This is important because studies show that self-control, paying attention, performing cognitive and decision-making tasks, and dealing with stress will deplete the brain’s energy source making it harder to maintain motivation or drive.

The importance of mental drive is evident when you think of the motivation needed to get you into the gym everyday: You need drive to increase your weights, you need vigilance to ensure proper technique for you and any training partners, and you need self-control to work through pain and fatigue. Support this by eating high-quality protein and good fats, while avoiding high-glycemic carbs.

Tip #2: Negotiate Protein Into the Diet For Better Willpower

Not only do you need to eat protein for breakfast, you need to get more of it at every meal. You also need to avoid high-glycemic foods (bread, cereal, those containing added sugar) because they lead to a large surge in blood sugar going to the brain. This is quickly followed by a drop in blood sugar, producing impaired electrical activity in the cerebral cortex. Avoiding large spikes in blood sugar will keep you motivated and energized, but not agitated or inattentive.

Another effect of large quantities of glucose in the blood is that brain cells that are responsible for wakefulness, energy expenditure, and memory get blocked. Eating protein has the opposite effect because the amino acids in protein will stimulate those same cells that get blocked by glucose, making one feel energized and have better cognitive function.

Research into diets that help people optimize brain function for better willpower came out of the practice of treating childhood seizures with a ketogenic, low-carb diet. Ketogenic diets shift the source of energy for the brain from glucose to fat, which is converted into ketones that are then used for energy in the brain.

True ketogenic diets are hard to maintain. Better behavior and health results have been found with a modified ketogenic diet that is high in protein, relatively high in fat, and low in carbs, with most carbs coming from low-glycemic sources such as fruits and vegetables.

Suggestions for beginning to do this include replacing breakfast with protein:

  • Try salmon, rolled up turkey with cheese, or chicken and apple breakfast sausages sautéed in butter.
  • Eggs are a good choice, but avoid cooking them in bad fats and eating them with bread.
  • Nut butters, especially almond and walnut, with fruit slices are an option.
  • Apply the high-protein, low-glycemic model to other meals by always eating protein or veggies first before you take a bite of carbohydrate foods.
  • Be creative and focus on achieving a threshold dose of 10 grams of essential amino acids at every meal.
Tip #3: Consider Eliminating Gluten and Processed Foods

Eliminating gluten is an effective treatment for improving brain function because gluten is poorly digested in the gut, causing an inflammatory response that goes straight to the brain. Eating gluten literally inflames the brain by depositing a type of plaque that interferes with proper communication between brain cells.

Studies show that “elimination” diets are overwhelmingly successful in improving cognitive function and treating ADHD symptoms and related learning disorders. The challenge is identifying what you need to eliminate.

Start by keeping a food journal in which you write down what you eat and how you feel mentally and physically afterward. Identify foods that make you feel unmotivated, tired, less focused, or more inclined to sit on the couch and zone out. Eliminate those foods in favor of high-protein foods and vegetables.

Tip #4: Boost Omega-3 Intake

The omega-3s DHA and EPA that come from fish oil are necessary for optimal brain function because they enable quick connections to be made by the chemical messengers in the brain. DHA fat actually makes up a sizable part of the brain, and EPA fat plays other neural roles including eliminating inflammation caused by eating gluten, for example.

Research shows people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, early-onset dementia, and ADHD have low omega-3 levels. Shoot for getting upwards of 3 grams of omega-3s a day that are rich in DHA.

Tip #5 Ensure You Get Enough Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin D & Inositol

Zinc has been shown to improve brain function and reduce attention deficit symptoms because it enables neurotransmitter function. It is also necessary in the metabolism of DHA fat in the brain and of melatonin, which regulates dopamine.

Magnesium is neeeded for proper brain function and stress management. It enables brain electrical activity, and supplementing with it has proven to increase cognition. Additionally, magnesium has a calming effect on the central nervous system, making it a top nutrient for children suffering from hyperactivity and lack of focus.

Vitamin D enables the function of every single cell in the body and it plays a role in attention and brain function. Inadequate vitamin D in pregnancy is linked to fetal brain development problems, autism, and schizophrenia. It also regulates metabolism and low D is a common pitfall to getting everything you deserve out of the gym.

Inositol is a carbohydrate or sugar, but it’s not “sugar” in the sense of cane sugar found in candy. Inositol can offset poor concentration and calm the brain, meaning it quiets obsessive thoughts and can help you avoid cravings.

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