There are so many diets surfacing all the time, it’s hard to know which one’s are truly effective. When attempting to lose weight, there’s no quick fix. You need to make lifestyle changes, promoting a healthier version of yourself. Some diets have you count calories, while others eliminate any form of carbs.
The serotonin diet is a food plan that ensures the production of serotonin. Basically, this diet tries to optimize serotonin production, through carbohydrates and proteins. When you are low on serotonin, your brain sends a signal to eat starchy or sweet foods. The main purpose of this diet is to eliminate these cravings, so that weight-loss can be achieved, while improving one’s overall mood.
How Does the Serotonin Diet Work?
When focusing on this new diet, participants control their intake of proteins and carbohydrates. This control is based on optimizing serotonin production. In order for serotonin to be produced, it relies on a number of precursors, including 5-HTP, vitamin D, tryptophan, and B vitamins.
When your body breaks down tryptophan, 5-HTP is produced naturally. However, 5-HTP supplements are available, becoming increasingly popular. When producing serotonin either tryptophan or 5-HTP need to access the brain, via the blood-brain barrier.
When serotonin levels are normal, your body and brain have the ability to gauge food scarcity. If we are eating food on a regular basis, serotonin levels are typically high. However, when these levels drop, our brains send a signal, triggering our appetite. This encourages us to eat.
How is Serotonin Linked to Body Weight?
Our brain has the ability to measure serotonin levels, sending a signal when it falls below a certain threshold. Once this occurs, a signal is sent to consume carbohydrates. Within the body, carbs are turned into glucose, which is used as a source of fuel. This fuel aids in the production process.
Once enough glucose is available, the cravings associated with carbohydrates tend to diminish. If your serotonin levels are low due to poor lifestyle choices, then this system could cause you to overeat. As we now know, excessive carbohydrate consumption is linked to weight-gain.
Obesity is on the rise, affecting millions worldwide. This epidemic is being cause by poor lifestyles; easily available, cheap food options; social influences; and our genetics. Although your genetics are not within your control, you can control your lifestyle choices.
Basically, serotonin works as a natural appetite suppressant. Not only will you feel satisfied in terms of your stomach, but you will also maintain a more stable mood. It is made, after sweet or starchy carbohydrates are consumed. In fact, studies have found that when participants consumed a carbohydrate drink before a meal, they were less hungry, and consumed less calories.
What Does the Serotonin Diet Consist Of?
While focusing on the serotonin diet, it has many similarities to other conventional diet options. This diet encourages individuals to eat a controlled amount of carbohydrates, sticking to a schedule. It has been found that foods which are high on the glycemic scale, encourage fat storage. Typically, foods that are high-glycemic options, are carbohydrates and fats.
When our blood sugar rises (due to the consumption of high-glycemic foods), insulin is released. Once insulin is within the bloodstream, it encourages tryptophan to enter the brain (via the blood-brain barrier). This helps to kickstart serotonin synthesis, making individuals feel more relaxed.
If you are always hungry, then you may not be choosing the right types of food items. When you lack the right precursors to produce serotonin, you can experience hunger. If your body senses that you’re consuming less, your serotonin levels drop, then you begin to crave your next meal. This can cause individuals to give-in to their carb cravings, which increases serotonin, but only short-term.
The key in this diet, is cutting calorie intake, while avoiding the associated cravings. How is this achieved? Well, when taking supplements of 5-HTP and tryptophan, you help suppress your appetite. Multiple studies have shown a correlation between 5-HTP supplements and weight-loss.
In one study, it was found that those who were taking a 5-HTP supplement, consumed 500 less calories on a daily basis (in comparison to a placebo group). When you consume 500 less calories daily, that equates to one pound of lost fat each week.
Is the Serotonin Diet for You?
When trying to eliminate symptoms of depression, many begin to take anti-depressants. These work by encouraging serotonin re-uptake. However, when taking these medications, many experience weight-gain. Our serotonin levels have a strong influence on appetite, which is directly correlated to our weight.
If you have gained weight due to antidepressants, then this diet is especially beneficial for you. Like all diets, it is not a ‘heal-all’ miracle plan. You need to start making healthier lifestyle choices as a whole, in order for this diet to be the most effective.
When trying to achieve a more positive mood and healthy weight, you need to; exercise on a regular basis, manage your food intake, stay hydrated, and manage your stress levels. The serotonin diet attempts to balance your intake of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
By creating this balance, you can increase your serotonin levels. When there is a constant supply available, appetite is controlled, mood and libido are enhanced, sleep is improved, as well as one’s overall quality of life. Remember, 5-HTP and tryptophan supplements are natural precursors to this vital neurotransmitter.
Other Natural Ways to Boost Serotonin Levels
Food and your diet, are most certainly the best way to start implementing changes in terms of weight and mood. However, there are also a number of others options, which promote a higher quality of life. As mentioned, you can influence your weight with natural supplements.
5-HTP has the ability to curve your hunger. In one study, women were either given 5-HTP or a placebo for a 12-week period. The results showed that 5-HTP has positive effects on weight-loss. The women in the experimental group lost 10 pounds, in comparison to just 2 pounds within the placebo group.
As mentioned, B-vitamins are an important precursor regarding serotonin production. Vitamins B1, B3, B6, and B9, all help convert tryptophan into serotonin. If you are deficient in any of these, it can influence poor serotonin levels. Fish and meat are the highest sources. For vegetarians, fortified cereals, seeds, and nuts, are great sources as well.