How Cravings Work: Carbs, Fats & Everything in Between
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hey are you hungry or are you craving something there’s a big difference both biologically and psychologically so what I want to do is help you understand whether you’re truly hungry and truly need to eat something and the hormones that are involved there or if you’re craving something and the hormones and neurotransmitters that are involved there hey if you haven’t already make sure you hit that subscribe button new videos every Tuesday Friday and Sunday at 7 a.m. Pacific time and all kinds of fun stuff in between and also hit that bell to turn on notifications all right so first and foremost we want to talk about what is truly happening when you’re hungry because being hungry is about survival whereas cravings are more about psychology what you actually want or how you’re feeling at that point in time and what you’re really trying to utilize as a void fill for lack of a better term you see we look at hunger it’s pretty simple you have some hormones that stimulate specific areas of your brain that tell your brain to either turn on or turn off hunger signals now when it comes down to cravings it’s a little bit more complicated you see things like fat and sugar they trigger specific neuro chemistry in your brain that kind of trigger these electrical signals that throw things off so what I want to do is give a biological breakdown of what happens with hunger first and then I’ll explain what’s happening with cravings so you can have a better understanding of what’s truly happening in your situation so it all starts in the hypothalamus the hypothalamus is the orchestrator of your brain it is what triggers all kinds of different things to happen and inside the hypothalamus you have all kinds of nerve responses and these given nerve responses do different things and in the case of hunger what ends up happening is the brain releases a specific protein known as neuropeptide Y and also another one known as a goat related peptide so these two proteins trigger the release of all kinds of electrical impulses that cause you to be hungry so it’s not as simple as hormones it’s more about the electricity in your brain and what kind of message it’s sending down to your stomach now on the contrary we have another neuron that causes another situation and it sits right next to the neurons that release those proteins in the hypothalamus this one is called mallanna sites stimulating hormone and melanocytes stimulating hormone is an inhibitory hormone so what that means is it stops you from being hungry so these two different electrical impulses sit right next to each other and you can see how very easy it would be to trigger one or the other and cause a different waterfall of different reactions within your body whether you’re totally hungry or totally satisfied but it really does come down to three hormones and they’re epicenter in the gut in the fat and even in the pancreas so the first one that I want to talk about is grilling ok ghrelin is one that you’ve probably heard about before and it’s mostly classified as the hunger hormone and in reality it is but I’ll explain a little bit more in a second you see what grayling is is a hormone that lets your body know your stomach is emptied or full so once your stomach is emptied your stomach releases Braylon and there’s grayling travels up to the hypothalamus and triggers that electrical signal to produce those proteins I talked about like neuropeptide Y so that’s how the process starts but gralen isn’t what makes you literally feel hungry or literally feel full you see that’s the job of another hormone known as cholecystokinin also known as C CK so C CK is produced in the upper portion of the small intestine and C CK is what literally tells your brain to have you stop eating to give you an example researchers have looked at mice that we’re literally eating and then inject them with C CK and they immediately stopped eating like immediately while they’re eating that shows you the power of C CK now the other one that we want to talk about is leptin leptin is a hormone that’s created by fat cells and believe it or not leptin triggers your body to stop being hungry so the more fat that you have the less hungry that you ultimately are however now this is a topic for a different day the more lesson that you have the more leptin resistant you become so you need more leptin to do this same job so it’s not always as cut and dry as it seems but our body fat plays a big role with how hungry or not hungry we are and then of course there’s insulin which is produced by the pancreas and insulin obviously is going to cause you to have these blood sugar rises and falls that can trigger other actions on the hypothalamus so these hormones act on the brain they trigger the electrical signaling and there you go you’re legitimately hungry and it all has to do with how much food is in your system and how much blood sugar is in your system which is a great segue into the world of cravings which really has not much to do with whether you’re truly hungry or not see cravings are more of a dopamine response and dopamine is something that allows us to feel good recreational drugs things like that that allow us to get that sense of reward really quick or just that pleasure that comes along with satisfying an itch to give you an example there was a study that was published in the Journal of neuroimaging this study took a look at test subjects that had consumed a nutritional beverage to completely stop all hunger hormones so what they did is they gave these test subjects a drink that would make it so that they’re literally not hungry they’re not producing Braylon their body’s producing CCK and they’re in a great situation as far as hunger goes but then they had them think about tasty beverages and tasty food and they did a brain scan they found that even when they were satiated the MRI showed that these test subjects were activating the same portion of their brain when thinking about food that would be activated when they were on any kind of a recreational drug showing that it’s working along the same dopamine pathway but what exactly does that mean what is dopamine and how does down regulation work and why do we get these cravings well an example I like to give is looking at your phone okay you might find that you have this urge to look at your phone frequently and the more that you do it the more you feel you need to do it you need to check your email you need to check your text messages all kinds of things that’s a perfect example of a neurotransmitter response with dopamine okay you’re satisfying something you feel the need to check something well the same thing is kind of happening at a subconscious level with food every time we eat something that even tastes remotely good or actually just satisfies even the feeling in our mouth or in our stomach we feel like we need it more and more so we go down this vicious circle of feeling like we need food when in reality what’s happening is it’s triggering dopamine receptors that are allowing you to feel good you’re getting that feel-good neurotransmitter what ends up happening down the line is your body always tries to keep in balance so when you elevate your dopamine your body says wait a minute dopamine levels are too high so it starts taking away dopamine so that you don’t get your dopamine as high so what ends up happening well you still want your dopamine high so you eat more and you consume more it’s the same kind of thing with recreational drugs people need more and more and more because their dopamine receptors are going away so this is happening with food and MRIs are proving it now what ends up happening when you have fewer dopamine receptors and you’re not consuming food you start feeling unhappy you may not even realize it but you’re subconsciously kind of unhappy until you get that instant gratification of eating something like that and that’s why it’s also been shown that people that are more prone to addiction obviously end up having harder stronger cravings so if you’re someone that is developing a pathway for yourself of repetition repetition repetition on constantly seeking out that reward system through any kind of Avenue you’re gonna trigger the same kind of response with food – let me give you an example if you’re getting obsessed with checking your phone all the time then chances are it’s gonna be easier for you to develop cravings but let’s take a look at sugar for a second – because sugar is a whole different world you see sugar does some other crazy neuro chemistry stuff it actually specifically acts upon what are called d1 dopamine receptors which means it triggers a huge dopamine spike but it also deactivates d2 receptors so when you deactivate d2 receptors you’re eliminating the ability to balance dopamine out so you’re really being one-sided just I rockin it up and getting rid of the ability to balance it so how can you start to control these cravings well obviously there’s a lot of different things you can do from a psychological standpoint but let me give you some food options okay the first thing is getting a little bit more protein is gonna do it doing it in the right way but specifically getting tyrosine you see tyrosine is an amino acid that obviously is in many proteins but you can also take a tyrosine supplement specifically that’ll help you out with that see tyrosine is a precursor to dopamine so if you can allow your body to create dopamine a little bit easier you’re sort of cutting out the middleman and you’re allowing your body to create it seamlessly so it doesn’t have to work as hard and you’re able to get to that reward sensation a little bit easier the other thing that you can do is eat probiotic rich foods okay this has nothing to do with satiating the gut we’re not talking about hunger hormones we’re talking about the effect on the brain and cravings here now what’s interesting is El rhamnosus and lactobacillus plantarum specific probiotics have actually been shown to encourage proper dopamine utilization within the body so we’re talking about the connection between the gut and the brain the enteric nervous system very very powerful thing here and that is one of the things that you can do today that’ll start making an impact also today now the other interesting thing is something known as a velvet beans now if you’re on a ketogenic or low-carb diet you don’t want to eat a lot of these but velvet beans are very interesting because they actually contain l-dopa which is the legitimate precursor to dopamine so if you consume something that has l-dopa in it it’s going to cause you to have that little bit of a dopamine spike without having to reach into the cabinet to get something else and lastly if you make sure you keep your magnesium levels up to snuff you can be in a situation where your body can more easily process dopamine and flush this entire process out better you want your body to commute in homeostasis that’s where we want to be homeostasis means no cravings homeostasis means balance it means clarity and that’s we want our bodies to do every time we shift the lever way too far to one side we throw things off completely so as always I want to make sure that you’re taking control of your body and taking control of your mind and the best way to do that is through education so keep it locked in here on my videos and I’ll see you in the next one
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How Cravings Work: Carbs, Fats & Everything in Between – Thomas DeLauer
Hunger & Hormones
The body’s system for regulating food intake is coordinated by the hypothalamus, which is located under the midline of the brain, behind the eyes:
Within the hypothalamus are nerve cells that, when activated, produce the sensation of hunger. They do so by producing two proteins that cause hunger: neuropeptide Y (NPY) and agouti-related peptide (AGRP)
Quite close to these nerve cells is another set of nerves that powerfully inhibit hunger. They produce two different proteins that inhibit hunger: cocaine and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) and melanocyte-stimulating hormone (αMSH)
These two sets of nerve cells initiate and send hunger signals to other areas of the hypothalamus. So, whether you feel inclined to eat or not depends on the balance of the activity between these two sets of neurons.
But what determines which set of neurons dominates at any given time?
Ghrelin is made in the stomach. It stimulates hunger by entering the brain and acting on the neurons in the hypothalamus to increase the activity of the hunger-causing nerve cells and reducing the activity of hunger-inhibiting cells
Cholecystokinin (CCK) is produced in the upper small bowel in response to food and gives a feeling of fullness. It is released soon after food reaches the small bowel
Brain Reward System
Now science has a basic understanding of the purpose and functioning of the brain’s reward system – the circuit most associated with pleasure and reward is the mesolimbic pathway
The mesolimbic pathway is located in the brainstem. This area of the brain is primarily concerned with basic survival
Within the mesolimbic pathway is an area called the ventral tegmental area (VTA). The VTA projects to the nucleus accumbens (thought to be the reward center)
The brain is hardwired to seek out behaviors that release dopamine in the reward system.
When you repeatedly do something that releases dopamine in the reward system, like eating sugary foods, your dopamine receptors can start to down-regulate
When the brain sees that the amount of dopamine is too high, it begins removing dopamine receptors to keep things balanced
When you have fewer receptors, you need more dopamine to reach the same effect, which causes people to start eating more junk food to reach the same level of reward as before – this is called tolerance
If you have fewer dopamine receptors, you will have very little dopamine activity and start to feel unhappy when you don’t get your junk food “fix” – this is called withdrawal
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