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Mary (00:02):

So today we are talking about something that is really big in the fitness world and is really big, especially in my intuitive eating world. And it has a lot to do with hunger, um, disordered eating or an eating disorder. And, uh, some research that we’re going to get into – it’s cravings. The thing that we have been taught our entire existence as female strength athletes, to fear, as people into fitness, we fear cravings because cravings equal bad. Right? But they don’t, and we’re going to get into the research behind it and what it means and what it doesn’t mean. And some of the studies that I think were very interesting, but just like with all other studies that we look into, they get at the point, but they don’t investigate exactly like what we would want them to. So it’s

Kristin (01:03):

Well, because now not really anyone is targeting female strength athletes that have had a history of disordered eating.

Mary (01:12):

I hope though they will.

Kristin (01:15):

It will happen because we realized that the fitness industry kind of, um, sent a lot of people down the disordered eating route. And then a lot of women kind of, their answer to fixing that was getting into strength, like actually getting into strength, sports. It was like, I don’t care anymore. Like I’m not chasing this like specific way my shoulders look. And, um, they started to celebrate what their body could do as opposed to what it looked like. Um, and so I think all of that stuff is coming right? It’s just like, uh, switched gears.

Mary (01:58):

Yeah. Well, it’s like with most research you have to start with like the most wide basic it’s an inverse triangle, right? The most wide basic thing. And then as you go, you get more and more and more specific. So like there was some studies about cravings and comparing people who suffer from binge eating disorder and people who don’t and how that affects them. So, you know, then the next step may be like, yo-yo dieters or how does it affect athletes who have suffered from binge-eating disorder? So you just get more and more specific the further and further into the research you get.

Kristin (02:33):

I was on, um, BBC radio in London, a couple of weekends ago. It was really fun. Um, but we were talking about this exact things. So the England’s professional women’s football league, in America we call it soccer, but their football league, um, there was this article that had come out against them basically saying that they were basically fat shaming athletes and that they wanted their female athletes to have a certain look and it didn’t really seem like they were tracking performance metrics. Of course, this could have been a really bias article and we might not know the whole story, but they weren’t really, it appears tracking performance. They were just saying, Oh, well, your body fat percentage is outside of where we want you to be, so they altered their training. They set them up on really restrictive diets. And the whole premise of this conversation that I had on BBC radio was about, um, how that can lead to disordered eating and also like down the road and eating disorders, um, later in life, as well as how that affects their performance. Right?

Mary (03:50):

Spoiler, it doesn’t help it!

Kristin (03:52):

We have professional athletes that were having to diet to a certain body fat percentage when that might not be the body fat percentage that their body is healthiest at, and therefore is not going to perform the best that. So it was a fun combo.

Mary (04:07):

Well, I think spoiler another spoiler, what we’re learning and what this research tells us is everything in moderation is what we need to maintain homeostasis.

Mary (04:17):

When we say homeostasis, does that, do you guys know what that means? Does, does that create a picture in your brain? I’d like to paint one for you homeostasis, as we’ve said so many times on the podcast is the level of balance. So it’s your body having a happy, healthy place. It’s where everything is functioning well and good things are going in. Things are going out. Nothing’s overloading. Nothing’s, underloading, it’s just in a happy, balanced place. It’s like, imagine you’re squatting. You are under the bar, and if your body is in homeostasis, you have equal weights on each side. If your body is out of homeostasis, you have misloaded the bar. The bar is misloaded and you are all over the place. Your body cannot properly squat without equal weights, onside the bar without injury or some other issue. So like that’s what homeostasis is. Imagine an equally loaded barbell.

Kristin (05:20):

That’s a really good analogy, Mary and I especially think of it like you, and I know you and I have both miss loaded the bar for snatches before, and that’s like real interesting because your pull will be real messed up.

Mary (05:33):

So that’s what it is. Right? And so if we dig into homeostasis a little bit more in terms of like hunger and cravings, your body wants to maintain homeostasis in terms of energy balance. So if you dip into a negative energy balance, meaning you’re hungry, your body’s going to start signaling that it needs food. And then when you get into a positive energy balance, your body is going to say 1) you’re full and 2) it’s going to start taking in those nutrients that you have ingested and using them for energy, but also storing them because it has excess. And it needs to do something with that excess to get it back down to a homeostatic space.

Kristin (06:20):

And this is, this is exactly why weight loss is hard. What you said is exactly why weightless is hard because you’re taking your body out of homeostasis and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. It could be a bad thing if you’re eating like 900 calories a day. So that could be a bad thing, but regardless your body perceives it as a threat, right? Cause it’s taken out of it’s out of balance.

Mary (06:42):

It’s out of balance. It’s like, yo lady, you have misloaded this barbell, what are you doing? Let’s fix it. And it starts throwing things at you like increased hunger, increased cravings. To try to get you to load that bar.

Kristin (06:58):

Perfect analogy here. If you misload the barbell by half a kilo on one side, not really that noticeable of a difference. If you misload the barbell by 10 kilos on one side, huge difference. You notice it. And the same thing is true with a weight loss. Since we were just talking about that, if you throw your body just a little out of homeostasis, you do just a little caloric deficit to lose weight slowly. It’s not that big of a deal. If you go huge caloric deficit. Now you’re trying to snatch with, you know, 25 kilos on one side and five kilos on the other. It’s not gonna work.

Mary (07:34):

It’s not going to work and your body’s going to be way out of balance. Way to add on to that metaphor! That was wonderful. That was unplanned. Beautiful. Okay. So hunger requires communication between your body and your brain. Um, and that’s going to happen in a myriad of ways, right? So it’s going to be either hormonal, and these are hormones outside of like what we normally would think would be like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, metabolites, so small, tiny molecules associated with metabolism, either being put into the system or required by the system and then also neuronal signals. So we’re going to get we’ll, we’ll briefly touch on that because that I dove a little too deep in. Shocker, from my neuroscience background. And so there’s a lot there that we don’t know. I mean, surprise, right? We know so much about the human body, but how our brain interprets hunger is still something that is widely unknown.

Mary (08:42):

I mean, they have some ideas, but really there is no definitive answer. So let’s just briefly touch on the neurons then. Okay. So there’s two neurons. There are the AgRP, which is activated by fasting. Meaning if you are in a fasted state, these neurons are fire and hot and heavy, and they’re trying to promote you to go get food, the food seeking behavior. So AgRP neurons = food. Then we have the POMC neurons that are inhibited by food deprivation. So when you are hungry, they stop that your body says, Whoa, on that signal and it promotes satiety. So it’s a satiating neuron that’s going to recognize when you are full. And these two neurons integrate with the hypothalamus, and the hypothalamus is what we know is implicated in hunger and feeding and any type of food behavior.

Kristin (09:43):

And, and way more than that, our hormone regulation, I mean just tons of things, tons of things. If you guys have ever heard us talk about like HPA axis, dysfunction, um, like people losing their periods because of dieting, the hypothalamus is implicated in this

Mary (10:03):

Blame, the hypothalamus. And then the POMC neurons, just to give you an idea is they have three different satiation signals, which are serotonin, which we all know is a big one. There’s cholecystokinin. That’s a hard word to say. And then peptide YY, which we may not know. I still don’t know those that well, but the serotonin and I think we can, all, we all recognize what that is. Then we have our different hormones. So the ones that we’re going to be talking about, there’s three of them. There’s ghrelin, there’s leptin, and then there’s insulin. So ghrelin is primarily produced by the stomach and the small intestine. And it is designed to increase food intake. It wants you to eat. It’s your hunger hormone. When you have increased ghrelin, you have increased hunger?

Kristin (10:57):

When you have increased the ghrelin, you become a gremlin,

Mary (11:00):

Gremlin, ghrelin equals gremlin. And, it works oppositely of insulin. So insulin, when you ingest a meal it spikes, so it can deal with the glucose in your blood. When you are in a facets that you have lower insulin in your, in your blood, because you have low glucose. Ghrelin and insulin are opposites. They’re like they’re siblings that don’t like each other. That’s not the greatest metaphor. Okay. I tried. And then it fell apart. It’s like the angel and the devil. Yes, the angel and double. But I don’t want to say it that way because there’s no good and bad. They’re just signals. And then there’s leptin. Leptin is made in your adipose. So your fat cells and in your small intestine, it helps regulate balance by inhibiting hunger. So leptin helps you stop being hungry.

Mary (12:01):

And then there’s also that leptin can modulate these two neurons that I talked about. So it can interact and regulate them, but that occurs over a long period of time. Whereas like ghrelin and insulin will happen a lot more rapidly. They happen in a matter of minutes rather than a matter of hours.

Mary (12:18):

So those are the three things. That’s hunger. So hunger is regulated by so many different things. We still don’t understand it. There is even, you know, when you get hungry, you get the feeling of an empty stomach. And when you get full, you get a feeling of a distended stomach. Those are all going to be neural signals and also in response to hormonal cues. So it’s this big web of messiness is what hunger is, which is why when I get clients who don’t know how to listen to their hunger cues, which is like most of us, which we’ll get into later because we’ve ignored them for so long, it totally makes sense why, from a research standpoint, why it’s so hard to learn to listen to, because there’s just so much going on. And if you aren’t actively practicing, listening to your hunger cues and listening to cravings, it takes a while for you to catch on, but you can totally catch on. It’s totally a learnable thing. You just have to really start paying attention

Kristin (13:23):

And we’re going to get into this, I think. Whenever you say, like we’ve ignored our hunger cues, I’m always like, I don’t think I ever really did. I mean, I just tend to like all my life, I want to eat food. Like I never went through that period where I just was like, I’m really hungry, but I’m not going to eat like starving myself. I don’t think I ever have really done that. Um, so some people still listen to their hunger cues, but they don’t necessarily know what they mean. And particularly if you are in a caloric deficit, you’re going to experience periods of hunger and so on. I think people become afraid of being hungry and it’s not anything to be afraid of. It’s just your body’s response. And so there are times where, like we talked about you’re having to go get out of homeostasis and your body’s trying to bring you back and you do have to fight against it. Um, but it’s, it can be very confusing.

Mary (14:19):

Right? Well, and it depends on how far away from homeostasis you are. If it’s severe, like you’re trying to squat two completely different sides of a barbell, then fighting to get back to homeostasis is going to be a lot more intense and a lot more difficult to fight. But if you’re just doing a little bit, like 0.5 kilos on each, on one side, you know, just a little change, it’s a lot easier to fight.

Kristin (14:47):

Because the responses by your body aren’t as great. .

Mary (14:52):

Right! Right. Exactly. The more severe approach you take, the more severe your body’s going to respond, because it just wants to pull you back into homeostasis.

Kristin (15:00):

Right, and we can talk about this too, this is not the focus of today, maybe focus of another day, but it’s the same thing happens if someone’s trying to bulk or mass and they’re eating in a caloric surplus, there are other things that happen that will …their, body’s trying to put the brakes on that as well. So, yeah, it just happens on both sides, it’s not just about weight loss. It’s just tends to be what most people are familiar with because most people don’t intentionally… it’s less common for people to be intentionally gaining weight.

Mary (15:32):

Yeah. Most fitness goals or, or goals around weight are around weight loss, which is why we see this. And then if you have a history of disordered eating you, probably what happened is you probably cut really severe and you fought your hunger and you fought your hunger and you fought your cravings. And then one day you gave in and that started you on like a binge cycle. And so then logically in your logical brain, it totally makes sense that you are afraid of hunger and cravings because hunger and cravings led you to binge. When in all actuality, it was the severe caloric deficit that you were in, that caused you to binge, which caused you to fear cravings. So it’s piece of the puzzle. We just have to put together, but it’s really easy for the industry to say, you have to fight cravings. You have to fight these things, which I think Kristin would agree even as a macro coach, like, and someone who hasn’t suffered from disordered eating, if you’re craving something, make it work.

Kristin (16:27):

Yeah. This is why I’m a huge fan of like flexible dieting or macro counting or whatever, because basically you can still eat whatever you want to eat within reason. Um, and so what I know is that we’re going to get into this more. But what I notice is with my athletes is that the longer we go down this road, the less, they really don’t crave things that used to basically like rule their life, these cravings. And they basically don’t crave them anymore. And even what’s really cool is that we find people that have like really intense cravings around their menstrual cycle, right when they’re about to get their period or right, when they get it, um, the longer we have them fueled and fueled properly and with the right amount of carbohydrates, most of those cravings almost completely go away or at least really diminish. We’re, I think we’re going to talk a little bit about that, but that I see that happening in real time, uh, with 10 years of doing this with athletes and it’s so cool, and it’s why I love flexible dieting.

Mary (17:36):

Well, and I mean, same thing, but apply it to, to intuitive eating, right? When we start getting rid of all these restrictions and we actually eat to nourish our body, I did an Instagram post on personal page a few days ago about this. When you are consistently fueling your body over a period of time, the intensity of your cravings will disappear when I bring on a client. And I say, the more you get into this, you aren’t going to crave these sweets, these highly palatable foods that you’re craving right now, the intensity, the cravings are going to go away. They laugh at me and then we get two months in and they’re like, Oh my God, I craved fruit. I craved potatoes. I only ever craved cake. And like, I know because your body is now in a state where it’s not fighting for energy.

Mary (18:23):

It’s not fighting you for anything. It’s like, Oh, we’re fed. It’s fine. Everything’s good. And we just move on. Yep. Okay. So anyway, a craving, which is why we’re all here. So cravings are defined as an intense desire to consume a particular food that is difficult to resist, pulled that directly from reviews about cravings. That is the scientific definition. Not very scientific, but it’s as good as they can get. Right. Cause we don’t really understand exactly what, how, why does this happen? Um, but food cravings can be differentiated from feelings of hunger, through its specificity and intensity. So we usually crave one thing in particular and we crave it above all things. Whereas hunger will be satisfied by just eating any food.

Mary (19:11):

Simple enough. Um, so cravings and weight loss. There are, there are two different categories of cravings in the weight loss world, right? There’s the restrained dieter, which are individuals who cut out certain food or food groups who may or may not be specifically in a caloric deficit. So this is where we see a lot of those fad diets. Right? Um, cutting out all carbs or all fats or only eating a keto, like we’re looking at a very restrictive type of diets.

Kristin (19:45):

Yeah or just saying, I’m not going to eat any sugar ever. Yes. Like any type of, if, if the definition aside from, from me, I am the exception. Um, but that’s because here’s the thing I can be vegan because I worked through all of my cravings and my horrible relationship with food and got to a point that I can make the decision to not eat the things that, that make me sad as a human, because I have complete and total freedom.

Mary (20:15):

If tomorrow I wanted to go back and eat meat. If my body craved it, I would say fine. Like we will figure this out. But because I have repaired my relationship with food, I have control. Right? I can go back to this. But if I tried being a vegan, when I was in the middle of my eating disorder, disordered eating phase, I would have failed so miserably because it would have just felt like complete restriction, even though it morally made me sad to eat animals, it would have just felt like total restriction. And we don’t want that.

Kristin (20:52):

Right. So the, basically the harder you restrict something, the worst, the cravings can become

Mary (20:59):

Correct. Um, and then the other type of dieter, is the energy deficit, which is individuals who are in an energy deficit specifically, but did so without any food restrictions now, which is

Kristin (21:13):

So that’s how I do it. And I think, well, you don’t do deficits with intuitive eating. But that’s exactly how I do it. And this is exactly why I do it that way. Carry on. Tell us more. Cause it’s really exciting. I love this

Mary (21:29):

Well between the two. So in the restrained diet or category, there was, the research has shown that there’s increased cravings for food, that they were deprived of. No surprise. Right?

Kristin (21:38):

Right. We’ve all been there.

Mary (21:40):

And also no shocker an increased consumption of that food. Who’s surprised? No one, no one’s surprised. And then in the energy deficit one, they found that food cravings actually decrease when compared to those who followed a restrained model, because there’s nothing, nothing’s off limits. You are just creating a balance in your body. Even if it’s a slight deficit, you are nourishing your body overall. And there’s nothing that you can’t have. It’s a mind thing. So the take home message from that little bit of research is if the goal is weight loss, the least restrictive that you are the less likely you are to experience extreme cravings.

Kristin (22:23):

Yes. And this is why I don’t tend to be a fan of making meal meal plans for people because everyone is going to have everyone has different tastes. Everyone. What if I just modeled like how I eat as a meal plan for someone else, they might fail miserably because it might feel really restrictive for them. Where, for me it’s complete freedom, right? I just eat how I, how I want to eat. And I’m completely free in that. I’ve been in a caloric deficit for a while now because I really went off the rails of when my grandmother died. It was like, I don’t care. I’m just going to eat whatever I want. Um, and so now I’ve been in a very gradual caloric deficit for several months. I don’t have any cravings. I have, um, I eat Reese’s peanut butter cup a few nights a week, uh, because I really liked those.

Kristin (23:15):

I allow myself to have anything I want, as long as it fits and I can make just about everything fit. Granted, I’ve been doing this a really long time, so that I’m no longer at the point where I crave something so intensely, I have to like go off plan that used to happen. Um, because I would try to eliminate, I would try to just, I’m not gonna eat any sugar or I’m not going to eat any, you know, I would eliminate entire things, and then it would make me, you know, be like halfway through a pint of Ben and Jerry’s before I knew what was going on. Like, what

Kristin (23:53):

Am I doing to myself? So

Kristin (23:55):

The more I have allowed myself over the last many years to eat foods like that and to keep my body really well fueled, even in an energy deficit, you can still be well fueled. If you have everything laid out appropriately for your training and you’re working on your nutrient timing, surrounding training, you’re getting enough protein and carbohydrates. You can still be relatively well fueled even in an energy deficit. So the longer you spend in that period of time, just the less cravings that you have and the easier it is to stay on your plan and allow for foods that you like.

Mary (24:37):

The research has found that that’s true too. They find that people who are in an energy restrictive state with no off limits foods, the cravings disappear. They report reduced cravings. Um, as long as the deficit isn’t severe, then we have a different, totally different case. Um, so here’s what the research also seems to show. If you have a good relationship with food and do not have a history of disordered eating or previous eating disorder, then you will likely experience what these studies call as normal results of caloric restriction, which would be, uh, so when you are in, they did a study where they took, uh, those who suffered from binge eating disorder and those who didn’t. And they put them in a 20 hour fast and what they found, no surprise, in the normal people, the normies, that there was decreases in mood with decreases in hunger.

Mary (25:36):

So you get hangry, right? You get upset that you haven’t eaten. You don’t feel good, but they also found that there was decreases in cravings with energy restrictions. Um, but on the opposite end, the ability to eat a reasonable amount of food. Following this long fasting period, um, stayed relatively normal for the normal people. So they were able to eat, not crazy. They just fulfilled that hunger and moved on. However, those who had suffered from this binge eating disorder, 1) reported an increase in mood. So they were happier the longer that they fasted. And this goes back to this idea, that hunger is a good thing and we get, so it’s so ingrained in our brain that if you’re hungry, it’s good. That means you’re losing weight. And so we, we have a trick in our brain. Our brain has been trained to think of it as a ‘Go-Team’ type deal. 2) but they also found that at the end of the experiment, when they were allowed to eat, they ate an unreasonable amount of food to fulfill that because they, I mean, they have binge eating disorder, right. That makes sense. They can’t control when they have access to food.

Kristin (26:50):

What does this sound like to you? This sounds like to me, when people cut really hard for a meet and then go buck wild with the food afterwards, I mean, we do need a lot of food after a meet, but you know what I’m talking about? Like, we’re talking, we’re talking like an eight pound or five pound swing in their weight after a meet because they cut so hard going into the meat that once they were finally able to eat, they ate so much more food than they needed.

Mary (27:20):

This also yo-yo dieting.

Kristin (27:25):

Exactly. I mean, right. Cutting for a meet is just yo-yo dieting normalized.

Mary (27:30):

Yes. That is exactly what it is.

Kristin (27:35):

It is. It really is like, and I, I want to, I want to un-normalize that it is not, we can’t do that. You guys, it is not healthy. It is a really good way to cap your potential as an athlete and to cap your longevity in the sport.

Mary (27:53):

And to just wreak havoc on your sanity, because the mental, the mental strain that goes through especially, if you associate value with weight at all, to see yourself get so lean so fast and feel so good. And then on the other end get, you know, add on eight pounds of food. First of all, you’re going to feel horrible. I mean, even if you have a healthy relationship with food, you’re going to feel horrible. And then second of all, the likelihood of that weight sticking around is high because it’s usually not just one day following these things. It’s the days following that we do this and the, the actuality that you’re going to eat, you know, an extra 3,500 calories per day is high. And so you end up actually retaining some of this weight. Um, so yeah, don’t, don’t do that.

Kristin (28:44):

Just compete in a higher weight class, please just, just get stronger and compete in a higher weight class. I know that’s easy to say. Um, but I’ve done it. I mean, I’ve, I’ve cut for me. It’s, uh, I have decided I am never doing that ever again. And it’s just not, but also for me, because I like to feel strong and I like to perform well, and you’re not going to feel strong or perform well, doing that. Unless the only time that I think you guys have probably heard us say this a million times, the only time that I think that that makes sense is if you’re at a really elite level and we’re talking about, you know, a world record or making, uh, making a world team or Olympic team or something like that, um, then it makes sense. But also, talk to any athlete who’s done that they don’t feel super strong on that day, but they’re doing it because they know that they can, even if they can’t their top numbers, that they maybe hit in the gym prior to cutting, they’re still going to beat because they’re so good.

Kristin (29:47):

They’re still going to be, you know, that competitive because they’re just so good. Um, but no one feels strong doing that. And to me, I don’t like that. I do this because I like to feel strong. And the last time that I cut for a meet, I cut down to 148, which mind you, I was sitting at 153, so 152 – 153. So it didn’t seem like a big deal. I felt so weak on the day, I never want to feel like that at a meet again. It was a complete, a mind game. It was a I don’t ever want to do that.

Mary (30:22):

But yeah. Okay. So cravings tend to be more intense for individuals who are suffering from disordered eating or who have gone through an eating disorder. Whether these are results of nutrient deficiencies or they’re just psychological cues is currently under debate. Um, while reading the research, it kind of dawned on me like nutrient deficiency is a big word and it is a medical term and it’s something we have to take very seriously. Um, but I think that there’s a difference, right? Between a new nutrient deficiency and then just an, an overall energy balance day to day. So while your body may not be nutrient deficient, because like I said, that’s a big deal. That’s something we really need to stress

Kristin (31:08):

Like a specific vitamin or mineral deficiency.

Mary (31:11):

Yeah, It’s something that is really throwing a wrench in your body’s system. Um, the research hasn’t really looked at shorter periods, and then what do like these cravings tell us day to day and how does that relate to energy requirements and maybe some psychological cues of, well, I was really hungry one time before, and then I ate this thing and that’s why, and then I felt better. I wasn’t as hungry anymore. And maybe that’s why I’m craving it. You know? So there’s a, like I said, there’s a lot of research that still needs to be done around cravings and nutrient deficiencies and energy requirements and all the good stuff.

Kristin (31:54):

and there’s some, there’s some interesting research out too that talks about, um, I think I talked about this on my Instagram. I think I’m not sure where I talked about this recently, but was about how highly palatable foods disrupt appetite regulation. And so our hunger signals can be altered by the foods that we eat and that if we eat foods that are really rich in fat and sugar, it can, um, like up-regulate the expression of your hunger, hunger signals. So you get more hungry and then you’re less satiated from the foods that you eat. And so there’s definitely gotta be a balance here, right? Because we’re talking about, um, like allowing yourself to have some of those foods that you don’t these intense cravings, but you also, we have to do it in moderation simply because if you exist off of those foods, you’re going to be perpetuating the cycle of being continually hungry and not satiated from your food. And so this is the case when people say, you know, when I eat candy, like I can’t stop, and this is why this is why it’s happening. And we noticed some people are more sensitive to it than others. Um, and so we, we have to find a balance and that balance is going to look different for every person. For me, it’s having a pack of Reese’s peanut butter cups, every few nights. That seems to be keeping me very happy, but also it’s not affecting my hunger and my safety at all.

Kristin (33:27):

But that might look like for someone it might be, They look like trying to avoid that for a while, but then you have to be careful. You don’t swing so far that you have these intense cravings.

Mary (33:38):

When I was recovering from my disordered eating, the thing that I did is I stopped having peanut butter in the house because I just couldn’t control myself. And, and I told myself, it’s not off limits. Like, if you really want peanut butter, we can get in the car and we can go get it anytime, anytime you want it. And just having that out was enough for my, for my mind to be like, okay, we’re we’re okay. Did I go a few times and get peanut butter? Absolutely. Was it the single serve packets? Absolutely. Because, you know, I knew myself, I knew I couldn’t control it if I had a whole tub, but we just, we have to kind of play some tricks to retrain our brains sometimes. And that’s fine. That’s totally fine.

Mary (34:39):

Um, okay. So in a review of the current explanations of cravings, they came to a conclusion that said while selective food deprivation seems to increase food cravings, caloric restriction seems to decrease them. And I thought that was so interesting because they state that for the reduction of cravings that the studies lasted for several weeks to months. Remember I see everything through a disordered eating lens. So hear me out. A lot of us experienced this reduction of cravings when we dieted for the first time. Think of the first time, if you, if you yo-yo dieted, if you ever had a severe caloric restriction, the first time was like seemingly effortless. Right? I remember the first time I dieted, easiest thing in the world, it was so easy. It was like, I could do this my whole life. It just felt so good. And then once the yo-yo dieting started kicking in, that’s what I experienced these cravings. Right. And, and that’s because that in and that restriction was so severe to start out with when I got a taste of what it felt like to be somewhat balanced. My body was like, Oh God, okay, we got to push for this. So this makes the case, like if you’re gonna, you’re gonna lose weight. If you want to lose weight, the more severe, the more severe your body responds.

Kristin (35:42):

If you’re on a diet plan that has you eating hardly any carbs or hardly any fats, this is going to happen to, you know, to, I mean, I have worked with at this point now, hundreds of people that this has happened to that followed diet plans like that, um, either for under the guise of performance increasement. I’m very passionate about this because I have seen this happen to so many people and it makes me really upset because they’re following this plan that they think is, so somehow they’ve been sold that it’s going to increase their performance or that somehow they need to be ultra lean to perform well as an athlete, which is not true. Everyone has a different level of body fat percentage that they’re going to perform their best at some people, it might be really lean for most people, it’s not. Um, but at any rate, they, they are successful on this plan and they lose a lot of weight and now everything’s messed up

Mary (36:52):

Everything that mess up.

Kristin (36:55):

I can’t tell that’s just a simple way to put it. Everything’s messed up, but essentially they, they fall into this yo-yo dieting cycle. Um, losing weight I get in the future becomes extremely difficult. Their body is completely thrown out of homeostasis. And we usually have to spend a painfully long period of time at maintenance to let their body recover. And then we can start to get off some of the weight that they had rebound.

Mary (37:26):

Yeah. So I talked about something similar on my Instagram, again, about learning your hunger cues. And this applies exactly to what Kristin is saying. When we are yo-yo dieting or when we are, what I like to call living in extremes, we are ignoring the middle part where our body wants to be the homeostatic parts. So made a little diagram. Okay. So when we’re living in extremes, we’re on this side, we are either incredibly starving, which is this side.

Kristin (38:02):

If you can’t see this, she has a picture of a bell curve up.

Mary (38:05):

Yeah. And if you want more of an explanation, go to my Instagram, it’s one of my recent posts. And then on this side on the far end is where we end up bingeing to. So we go here and then we’re like, Oh my God, I ate so much. We ended up skipping this whole middle part again. And we go right back into the super hungry. And then right back into this fullness, what we’re talking about, with both Kristin and my approaches to the same problem, right? Is learning how to live here, in the middle.

Mary (38:36):

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re going to get hungry, Great! Eat, eat, and you’re going to get full. Great! Stop.

Mary (38:41):

That’s what we’re talking about here. When we live in the extremes, our body’s doing extreme things to try to keep us alive. But when we live in the middle in homeostasis, the research says, we have anecdotal evidence from each of our clients, age of our client bases our experience with clients, saying that when we are balanced, when we are in a well and balanced state, the intensity of our cravings will go down. They won’t feel like something that’s going to make or break us. Instead, they’re going to be like a nice little suggestion of what you might want to eat. You may find that you don’t have cravings. Maybe like at all, like maybe you just, you just make whatever you want and you eat it. You may also find like you may crave something sometimes. Pie… I’ve talked about pie a million times. I cravings for pie and I don’t eat the whole pie anymore.

Mary (39:37):

I have a piece and I’m happy hour Mac and cheese. I have part of a Mac and cheese and I’m happy. Cravings are just a suggestion. And that suggestion could be maybe something your body needs, although the research is still out on that, but it can also mean comfort. It could just be like, I remember this one time I ate this and it made me really happy and I’m going to eat it again. Cravings are nothing to fear. As long as your body’s in a well and balanced state. Like you don’t need to fear it if your body isn’t, but it needs to have the red flags going off, like, okay, if this craving is this intense, I need to figure out how to get myself back into a healthy, balanced state. .

Kristin (40:20):

Well, and so you were talking about the two extremes with eating, right? But so we want to try to live in the middle. Okay. I would argue that the majority of us as strength athletes are pushing our bodies to the extreme, right? So we’ve already got one thing in our body physiologically that is on the extreme, right? Why are you going to make nutrition even more extreme? That’s those two things was our fighting against each other. The more extreme you are in your training, the longer your training sessions are the more volume or the more intensity you have in your training sessions, the closer you are to a meet peaking for me, all of these things, the less extreme your nutrition should be. You need to be fueling your body and living in that middle place, essentially where I would call, um, I would call, being well fueled, being in the middle, but I could also think of it as like, if we think of it as like, you know, an upwards trend is like, you need to be up here with your nutrition. You need to have everything spot on. Spot on means in the middle,

Mary (41:34):

In a healthy homeostatic space. You don’t, things don’t have to be difficult to mean that they’re working for them to be successful. If you’re finding that everything that training’s already going to be difficult. Okay. Especially if you take it very seriously and you’re training for meets, that’s already going to be difficult, adding difficulty, as KristIn said of nutrition on top of it doesn’t mean you’re doing it, right. It just means you’re making it harder.

Kristin (42:04):

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, so yeah, it takes a little bit time to get used to, okay, I need this much protein and I need to eat this many carbs. That stuff is, that can be challenging, but it’s not putting your body into an extreme. Right. And so that’s what we’re talking about. There’s definitely a learning curve. It’s sometimes frustrating.

Mary (42:26):

We need to learn the difference between what is like, what is difficult, What is just like hard for us to do. It’s an inconvenience and what is really bad for us. What is something we should be avoiding. Because a lot of the times I see with nutrition, people saying it’s impossible when really it’s just an inconvenience or they haven’t quite caught up with the learning curve. And that just takes time. Um, it also takes being honest with yourself and saying, okay, you’re just being a bit lazy right now. It’s not impossible. I just need to figure out how to make this work for me. And then there’s the other side where it really is impossible. It’s bad. Stop doing it.

Kristin (43:07):

Yeah. Right. Because sometimes if you’re following a nutrition plan that is not good for you, it will feel impossible. And there’s a difference between being difficult and learning, and then literally your body sending all these signals, like I’m going to shut down and not work now.

Mary (43:27):

Yes. We don’t want that. We want to avoid that.

Mary (43:27):

Okay. So the big, the big take home message with cravings is that they do exist. Why? We’re not entirely sure they’re definitely there. Um, they’re different than hunger in that they’re very specific and they can be very intense. And as we said, a million times, the more balanced you are, the more homeostatic you are, the more you are squatting and equal leveled barbell, the less likely you’re going to have these intense cravings coming in and wreaking havoc on what’s going on. You’ll have, you’ll have suggestions. That’s it. That’s cravings.


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