Saturday, December 28, 2013

Knowing your Buffer and Trigger Foods ...

One of the core principles that is critical, when it comes to fat loss, we are all different.

While we share overlapping metabolic similarities, we each have our unique metabolic expression, psychological sensitivities, and personal preferences.  

It's because of this, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to fitness and fat loss.

Our goal is to help you understand your individual uniqueness with food, and uncover your own eating system that delivers sustained fat loss, along with balanced energy, reduced hunger, and absent cravings.

Finding your metabolic balance is like solving a mystery in a sense. It is like unlocking your own metabolic formula. Once you do, it changes things and frees you from weight loss frustration.

On Saturday during a nutrition workshop, I promised to share the importance of understanding your "trigger foods" and "buffer foods".

Both are important concepts to learn in deciphering the metabolic fat loss formula unique to each of us. 

Trigger foods are foods that trigger hunger, cravings or energy fluctuations ... which in turn leads to compensatory eating and/or simply slowed fat loss. Examples include things like dairy and gluten, which can interrupt metabolism in people sensitive to those foods. 

Other examples include sugar, sugar free products, sometimes 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.  No one craves a spinach salad, for example, after a night of consuming alcohol.  Thus, the reason Denny's is open 24 hours.  :)

Trigger foods also can simply have more or less of a fat storing effect in certain people. For example, zero calorie sweeteners, in SOME people can cause an insatiable hunger and cravings.  Some, however, have no effect and may even benefit from these foods. Understanding these reactions are key to each of us, individually.

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 us, rather than against it.

Buffer foods are far more broad and can simply be something that is psychologically pleasing (having 2 squares of dark chocolate in the afternoon to avoid craving candy or pizza later, as an example). Buffer foods keep you sane and buffer the effects of hunger, cravings, or energy fluctuations. Knowing your buffer foods is a great tool in managing your nutrition.

Examples of buffer foods might be flavored sparkling 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 things and when used appropriately, buffer against the need/urge to eat too much or the wrong things later.

My buffer foods include Baked Scoops, chocolate chips, a mozzarella cheese stick or two, and baked pretzel crisps.  These a NOT foods high in water, fiber or protein content, but for me they can act as a buffer when I'm really hungry, yet I have a while before I can eat a better meal … of if I'm simply craving something (usually psychologically). 

Buffer foods can often be small amounts of something that in larger amounts might cause an issue. 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 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.  Rob Williams and I discussed the trigger aspect of zero calorie drinks on this video: http://youtu.be/cbf-MFuaoJQ

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 again, 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.

Lots of info again today.  Have patience with yourself in digesting it all, over time things will fall into place for you!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins
NSCA-CPT, ACE

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