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How To Stop Food Cravings: Understanding Trigger & Buffer Foods

One of the core principles of Metabolic Effect is that we all have metabolic differences . While we share overlapping metabolic similarities, we each have our unique metabolic expression, psychological sensitivities, and personal preferences. Because of this, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to fitness and fat loss. This is the reason behind the acronym of Metabolic Effect, ME.

But it's so tasty and sweet!Our goal is to teach every individual how to stop dieting and instead learn to build a lifestyle that works for them. A lifestyle that delivers sustained fat loss along with balanced energy, reduced hunger, and absent cravings.

This state of metabolic balance is what we call the Metabolic Effect. Finding this state requires being a detective NOT a dieter, and once you do, it will free you from the weight loss trap for good.

One of the key understandings in this lifestyle is “trigger foods” and “buffer foods”. Both are important concepts to learn in deciphering the metabolic fat loss formula unique to every individual.

Trigger Foods:

A trigger food is a food that when eaten causes undesirable effects later and/or silently keeps you from getting results. Trigger foods are foods that “trigger” negative changes in hunger, cravings or energy. What we here at Metabolic Effect call HEC (pronounced “heck”). Trigger foods make your HEC out of check.

For example, artificial sweeteners are notorious trigger foods for some people. Including them can increase hunger and cravings making people who consume them more likely to eat more of the wrong things more often. This is a big time example of how a zero calorie item, can disrupt biochemistry.

Trigger foods can also be foods that silently keep people from getting results due to negative hormonal changes or hidden sources of calories.

Examples include things like dairy and gluten. Both of these foods can interrupt metabolism through an immune mechanism such as induction of autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimotos), or in the case of dairy, simply create and exaggerated insulin response in some people.

Other examples include fruit, sugar free products, nuts and nut butters, and alcohol. These foods may trigger compensatory eating reactions that lead to eating too much food and/or the wrong types of food later. They also can simply have more or less of a fat storing effect in certain people.

For example, nuts are usually digested in an inefficient mechanism in humans. This can mean the fat contained in them may pass through the digestive system and not actually be absorbed. Some people, with more efficient digestion, may extract more of the fat from nuts than others.

As mentioned, zero cal sweeteners, both synthetic and natural, are examples as well. Some people who consume these non-calorie items end up with insatiable hunger and cravings. Some, however, have no effect and may even benefit from these foods. Understanding these individual reactions are key.

Another prime example of trigger foods are the combination of fat, starch, sugar or salt. Highly palatable foods like these make us eat more at the present meal AND cause brain changes that make use crave more of those foods later. This is why “cheat meals” can be such a slippery slope. To learn more about this negative impact of fat/starch/sugar/salt combinations, check out these two blogs HERE and HERE.

Also it appears that foods with high flavor profiles can also be triggers. If you are a foodie or lover of complex culinary experiences, consider this can also be a trigger. The more variety in flavor, the more we crave and eat.

Buffer Foods:

Buffer foods are foods that can be used periodically through the day or week to help stave off compensatory reactions. Unlike trigger foods, they have the ability to balance the metabolism and work for a person rather than against it.

Buffer foods are far more broad and can simply be something that is psychologically pleasing (i.e. having 2 squares of dark chocolate in the afternoon to avoid craving candy or pizza later).

Buffer foods keep you sane and “buffer” the negative effects of hunger, cravings, or energy fluctuations. Knowing your buffer foods is a great tool in managing the lifestyle aspect of body change.

Examples of buffer foods include sparkling flavored water, nut butters, salt, chocolate/cocoa, sugar free products, nuts/seeds, high fat foods (i.e. avocado/sour cream), cheese, salty fatty meats (bacon, hot dogs, etc.).

As you can see, these foods help control HEC, and when used buffer against the need/urge to eat too much or the wrong things later.

Don’t get confused here. Buffer foods can often be small amounts of something that in larger amounts might cause an issue. This is why you see some overlap with buffer foods and trigger foods.

In some instances a food may be a trigger food for one person and a buffer food for another (i.e nut butters or no-cal sweeteners).

In the case of no cal sweeteners, these sweeteners can act as a trigger food in some and the mechanism is thought to come from the cephalic phase insulin response. This is a mechanism by which the sweet taste acts neurologically through the tongue (called the neurolingual connection) to induce an insulin secretion by the pancreas).

This is done as the body expects to see sugar in the blood stream, but when it does not come, the blood sugar can be lowered pushing the blood sugar to a level that may cause the brain to increase hunger and cravings.

This mechanism is likely not an issue for some, but certainly is for others.

For those who do not have this reaction, sugar free products may act as a buffer food by giving them the taste of sweet they crave without a strong hunger drive or craving response later.

So, in this case one size does not fit all and one person’s trigger food can act as another person’s buffer food. This is an important consideration and part of each individual’s detective work to find their unique metabolic fat loss formula and beat cravings for food.

For more information on how to beat cravings from both the biochemical and behavioral aspect check out these two blogs:

Is Your Brain Making You Fat?

How To Beat Cravings by understanding the habit loop