What is Serotonin?
Serotonin is a natural Appetite Suppressant. It is a brain chemical that curbs craving thus shuts off appetite. It gives you satiety even if your stomach is empty. This results in less eating and weight loss.
Serotonin is also a natural mood regulator. It makes you feel emotionally stable, less anxious, more tranquil, focused and energetic. It is made after consuming sweet or starchy carbohydrates.
30 years ago, Studies have shown that Tryptophan (the building block of serotonin) can get into the brain after consuming sweet or starchy carbohydrates. It is an amino acid that is found in all protein. Tryptophan competes for entry into the brain with other amino acids. Though there are other amino acids in our blood. In this “competition” to get into the brain, tryptophan is in a disadvantage in getting into the brain after consuming protein meals like meat or yogurt.
But then carbohydrate is consumed, it tips the odds in tryptophan’s favor. Most of the carbohydrates (except fruit) is digested to glucose in our intestinal tract. When glucose enters our bloodstream, insulin is released and nutrients such as amino acids are pushed into the cells of the heart, liver and other major organs but tryptophan stays behind in our bloodstream. As a result, there are tryptophan build up in the blood than other competing amino acids. So as the blood passes through by the brain barrier, tryptophan can get in as well. Tryptophan is immediately converted into serotonin, thus creating a soothing and appetite controlling effects which can be felt by an individual immediately.
Most or All of us have already experienced the carbohydrate-serotonin effect on our appetite without knowing it. A common example is eating 20mis before lunch or dinner meal. Munching on rolls or pieces of bread while waiting for the meal to be served, by the time meal is served you will feel a full stomach. “I don’t even feel that hungry” is the most common response, this means your appetite has been downsized. It is caused by the new serotonin putting a break on your appetite.
Any successful weight loss depends on the power of serotonin to control food intake.
The carbohydrate-serotonin connection has a direct impact in our emotions as well. There are a number of drugs used to increase serotonin activity as a therapy for mood disorders. However, studies have shown that natural changes in serotoning can have a profound impact in the daily changes of mood, energy levels and focus. Most people have a need to eat sweet or starchy food late in the afternoon. Thus, stating that late afternoons seems to be the universal carbohydrate craving time resulting to increasing serotonin naturally.
Studies have been done to differentiate the effect of carbohydrate or protein intake in Carbohydrate cravers. The mood, concentration and energy were measured before and after consuming the test beverages. As a result, the carbohydrate serotonin-producing beverage improved their mood while the protein containing beverage had no effect in mood or appetite. In conclusion, eating carbohydrates allow our serotonin to restore our good mood and boost energy level.
Consuming low or fat-free and protein-free carbohydrates in correct amounts at a specific time potentiates the serotonin’s ability to increase satisfaction. You will eat less, feel more satisfied and lose weight.
5 tips to increase serotonin:
- Carbohydrate consumption on an empty stomach. Eating 3 hours after eating a protein containing meal can avoid the interference from protein.
- Food that contains carbohydrates like graham crackers or pretzels should contain 25-35 grams only. Carbohydrates can be sweet or starchy and can take a long time to digest and is not recommended for an immediate improvement in mood.
- Protein content of snacks should not exceed to 4 grams. While snacks containing fat should not exceed to 3 grams. This is to avoid eating too many calories and slow down digestion.
- Do not eat after consuming the correct amount of food. It takes about 20-40mins to feel the effect of satiety. Eating more carbohydrates is unnecessary and may cause weight gain.
- Stress may increase the need for serotonin which makes it a little bit harder to control food intake. In order to prevent this, shifting of protein intake in the early part of our day can help. Consuming of protein in breakfast and lunch, then carbohydrate intake in the late afternoon. Eating a carbohydrate for dinner with very little to none protein can increase serotonin sufficiently. This can prevent an after dinner nibbling and gives a soothing effect of the serotonin that prevents stress from interfering with sleep.
Boost Serotonin to switch off appetite and boost your good mood.