Sugar and shite

This topic contains 16 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Adaline 5 years, 3 months ago.

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  • Am I the only person to have noticed that sugar kills one’s resolve, or to put it another way sugar kills the willpower? I am not sure if it is just an increase in desire or if there is an actual bio-mechanism that reduces this mysterious thing called willpower. The Buddha would probably say that it was simply a matter of enhanced desires, and enhanced desires takes one farther away from one’s inner self, and one’s inner self is where all power comes from.

    But for me, the very best way to fall off of the wagon is to eat say a brownie. The funny thing is that it also screws of up my willpower regarding other things, like getting to bed at a wise hour. And I have conducted this little “experiment” (ad hoc) far to numerous times to remember or count.

    I presume that your question is following this disscution:
    and this study: “In a 2012 study published in the journal Steroids, Jakubowicz and her team found that people trying to lose weight were better off not only eating a big breakfast, but also indulging in some “forbidden foods” they were probably trying to avoid, like sweets. Over the course of a 32-week study, participants who added dessert to their breakfast — cookies, cake, or chocolate — lost an average of 40 pounds more than a group that avoided such foods. They also kept off the pounds longer.

    In that study, 193 clinically obese, non-diabetic adults were randomly assigned to one of two diet groups with identical caloric intake — with the men consuming 1,600 calories per day and the women 1,400. The first group was given a low carbohydrate diet including a small 300-calorie breakfast, and the second was given a 600-calorie breakfast high in protein and carbohydrates, always including a dessert item (e.g., chocolate).

    Halfway through the study, participants in both groups had lost an average of 33 pounds per person, again consistent with the far lower calorie intake the diet provided. But in the second half of the study, results differed drastically. The participants in the low-carbohydrate group, unable to withstand temptation any longer, began cheating on their diet and regained an average of 22 pounds. Participants in the group with a larger breakfast, however, lost another 15 pounds apiece. At the end of the 32 weeks, those who had consumed a 600-calorie breakfast had lost an average of 40 pounds more per person than their peers.

    Thirty-two weeks is a long time to go without goodies, it seems, and according to Jakubowicz, the results of the the 2012 study show that denying oneself won’t work in the long run.

    “The participants in the low carbohydrate diet group had less satisfaction, and felt that they were not full,” she said, noting that their cravings for sugars and carbohydrates were more intense and eventually caused them to cheat on the diet plan. “But the group that consumed a bigger breakfast, including dessert, experienced few if any cravings for these foods later in the day.””


    To answer your question, it can be:
    1. insulin resistance
    2. sugar addiction (like nicotine / alcohol addiction)
    3. a form of eating disorder, consequence of long periods of dieting and dieting-mentality / restrictive eating (of junk / carbs) followed by binge episodes with the forbidden foods. In other words: Diet – Restrict – Binge cycle, with both physiological and psychological causes. More details here:

    Quote: “The emotional toll of this extreme eating is huge. While we’re restricting we feel deprived, anxious, and paranoid. After binging we feel guilt, remorse, and confusion, not to mention physical discomfort.

    Often we think that the binge represents failure on our part, that we were weak and just needed more willpower. We might not realize that what we were thinking of as success in this scenario – the act of restricting – is actually the primary cause of our binging behavior.

    Restricting what we eat affects us both biologically and psychologically. Biologically, if we aren’t getting the energy and nutrients we need, our bodies will develop a primal drive to correct that deficiency. We might feel an unrelenting craving for sugar or refined carbohydrates, which are the quickest form of energy our body can access.

    Psychologically we feel a build-up of deprivation from not allowing ourselves to eat what we really want. Deprivation brings out the rebel in all of us and drives us to act in ways that seem to be counter to our intentions.

    These aren’t evidence of failed willpower. They’re proof that your body is working normally (and that it doesn’t appreciate when we try to overpower it with dieting and restriction).

    The solution to the binge-restrict or extreme eating cycle is not learning how to restrict better. It’s learning how to eat enough for your body, and allowing yourself to eat what you’re truly hungry for.”


    I think that things are more complicated than “sugar is the devil”. My case: I have insulin resistance (p. 1) and symptoms of junk addiction (p. 2), I’ve tried many years the “total abstinence” approach and, guess what, now I have and a binge eating disorder (p. 3). And that’s why I’ve said that I’ve resonated with the study and that my conclusion is: “the dose makes the poison”.

    I notice that the study participants were not eating ketogenically. And I notice that the study is based upon the assumption that we need refined carbs. Basically what I am saying is that I reject the findings of the study and I embrace the thought that attitude and self-examination is very important.

    Adaline, I should always wait before responding to thoughtful posts. Sorry about my curt response.

    What you have described fits exactly with what Jason Fung calls the Body Set Point. The background level of insulin will determine weight, even if the person temporarily manages to force their weight down (or up) with the Calories In, Calorie out assumption. Fasting and a ketogenic diet can get that background level of insulin down. Otherwise, the person will feel cravings and will gain the weight back.

    I think we are genetically wired to seek sweet things. Its in our best interest to have this in build into us. It held us in good stead in the past when we would forage for food. Fast forward to modern society with an over abundance of food and it is working against us. In my opinion refined carbs are as bad as it gets. You want carbs? Get them from veggies which have the carbs encapsulated in fibre. I have yet to read a single post that has said I binged on broccoli.

    “binging on broccoli” I like that. Very good. Reminds me of Jason Fung telling us to ask the “Calories In, Calories Out” folks if 500 calories of sugar is the same healthwise as 500 calories of broccoli.

    But my point is that, for me, it is worst than whacking my body. It whacks my willpower also.


    In my opinion are 2 different types of cravings:

    1. physiological – caused by insulin resistance / sugar addiction – so INTERNAL stimuli. And yes, by restricting the junk / carbs, this type of cravings dissapear – with 3 exceptions, that I will address at the end. In your posts you are speaking only about this type of cravings, but not this is the subject of the study. The subject is “temptation”, so the next type of craving.

    2. psychological – caused when a part of our mind (and not our body), wants something, and other part of our mind says “Junk is poison. You are not allowed to eat it.” And this starts an internal conflict in our brains, and this is what it cause the restrict – binge cycle I was describing in my first post. This cravings appear when we are emotional / stress eaters (and this is partially also a hormonal / physiological response to low dopamine, serotonin, etc / depression, anxiety, etc.) or when are exposed to strong EXTERNAL stimuli, in my case: my husband drinking beer next to me, or eating ice-cream or chocolate cake, or me going with friends to eat, and 100% their choice is pizza, or me seeing windows with tens of different cakes or smelling warm bread and pastries. Yes, it is possible to control the environment, but only to a point. I can ask my husband not to eat junk next to me, but I can not ask my friends not to eat pizza and drink beer. And I can not anticipate what shop will be in front of me walking in new locations, or a food orgy in a movie I’m seeing.. and so on. Going keto will not erase my memories about how much I liked the taste of certain junk foods. And this is the object of the study, this kind of “temptation”, not the one caused by insulin. You say “And I notice that the study is based upon the assumption that we need refined carbs. Basically what I am saying is that I reject the findings of the study .” Partially correct. Yes, our body doesn’t need refined carbs. But, for some of us, our soul does need them. Junk is comfort food, remember? Yes.. you say “and I embrace the thought that attitude and self-examination is very important.”, but not all of us are so strong or are so.. evolved. And that’s why I consider the study to be statistically relevant. It doesn’t matter what YOU can do (completely abstain from junk), but what the rest 99% of us can do. This study is a statistic of real people, real life, not “but hey.. they are not on keto and they are not practicing self-examination”. This is real life: most of us don’t do low-carb / self-examination. Is this a bad thing? Surely. But not this is the subject of the study. Exception (you) does not make the rule (the study).

    To close: the study does not say that we all need refined carbs to lose weight. Not at all. The study says: IF you know yourself that you are easily tempted by junk in your environment, or you are an emotional eater, then you will lose more weight by allowing daily small doses, otherwise you will regain weight if you completely forbidden. BUT if you DO NOT WANT the junk, you do not need to eat it, in order to lose more weight. The role of eating small doses of junk helps in losing weight by avoiding binge episodes after x months of restriction. But if in your case, YOU do not crave / want junk, and logically you will not have later binge episodes caused by restriction (because there is no “restriction” recorded in your brain, if there is no “wanting”), you don’t need to eat the junk, and you can lose even more weight than those who eat small doses of junk.
    But what the study finds, is that are very few people like you (without junk cravings on long term keto), and many people like me, that go “crazy” when they try to restrict.

    Sorry, I hope I’ve had some coherence in my explanation, I am not a native English speaker. (Sorry also for the Caps Lock writing, for the purpose of drawing attention to an ideea.)


    I was saying about 3 exceptions for physiological junk cravings (and hunger) on keto:
    1. Forcing the body to go lower than what he thinks is healthy (under 10% body-fat, I think said Dr. Fung).
    2. Very big daily caloric deficit (over 25%), for a long period of time. In other words: caloric starvation. Like low carb, low protein, low fat, low-everything-diets.
    3. Carbs deficit. To explain (yes, yes, I know that “essential carbs” do not exist): more important than caloric deficit is nutritional deficit / micro-nutrients starvation. Keto is a very restrictive diet and after x months the body creates strong cravings (sometimes also strong hunger) in the hope that he will receive what he needs.
    I think this story is statistically relevant:
    And for me, Jaminet’s theory about nutritional deficit (confirmed statistically by this diet-restrict-crave-hunger-binge cycle) is the proof that diets that are based on zero-some-large-group-of-foods (like veganism or keto) are not optimal for long term health. (This is my opinion and I do not wish to debate it.)

    Some details about carbs deficit on keto, here:

    “In the cyberspace crowd of health-oriented blogs and Facebook groups, I noticed more and more people saying they developed problems on a strict very-low-carb diet – low thyroid function, cold hands and feet, high fasting glucose, dry eyes, etc. – which went away when they added some “safe starches” back into their diets as prescribed in the Perfect Health Diet.

    That peak health range is the amount of glucose our bodies require on a daily basis — somewhere in the range of 100 to 150 grams. It’s this chapter of the book that started all the hubbub over “safe starches.” Yes, your body will convert protein into glucose – even if it has to raid the protein stored in your muscles to do so – but the Jaminets argue that forcing your body to meet its daily glucose requirement through gluconeogenesis can eventually cause the health problems Chris Kresser described seeing in some of his patients: slow thyroid, dry eyes, cold hands and feet, low energy, weight-loss stalls, etc.

    I see a fair number of patients in my practice struggling with symptoms like hair loss, cold hands and feet, plateaued weight loss, low energy and mood imbalances after following a VLC diet for several months. In many cases they adopted this approach to lose weight, which was successful – at least to a certain point. However, others were not overweight to begin with and simply chose to eat VLC because they got the impression that “carbs are bad”, even for people without metabolic problems. I believe many of these issues are related to the decrease in thyroid hormone levels seen on VLC diets.

    In cases where there is no significant metabolic damage, when I have these folks increase their carbohydrate intake (with starch like tubers and white rice, and fruit) to closer to 150g a day, they almost always feel better. Their hair loss stops, their body temperature increases and their mood and energy improves.

    For people that are overweight and are insulin/leptin resistant, it’s a bit trickier. In some cases increasing carbohydrate intake moderately, to approximately 100g per day, actually re-starts the weight loss again. In other cases, any increase in carbohydrate intake – in any form – will cause weight gain and other unpleasant symptoms. A different approach is required for these patients.

    As always, there’s no simple answer and no one-size-fits-all approach. If I could leave your readers with one point, that would be it.”

    PS: I’m really really sorry for such long response. Very bad habit of mine. 🙁

    Have a nice Sunday! 🌞

    Thank you for that Adaline. I got pretty much all of that covered because I simply can’t fit my mind into any kind of simple formula like “carbs are bad”. I eat potato starch every day. I am amazed to hear about such bad reactions to doing carbs so strictly close to zero. I don’t and now I won’t. I know that I have to feed my gut microbiota.

    But still, I am talking about the almost instantaneous and fortunately temporary crushing of willpower that happens to me when I eat say a brownie. And it is almost always hours later that I connect the dots that my willpower evaporated when I ate the brownie (or popsicle or whatever). Doing so also will aggravate my insomnia.

    Speaking of insomnia, mine has receded to just about zero when I started making and drinking water infused with magnesium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate. The magnesium bicarbonate by itself did not do much for the insomnia, but when I started adding the potassium bicarbonate, what a big difference!! Within 3 days my sleep went back to normal.


    Sorry, I don’t really understand what “instantaneous and fortunately temporary crushing of willpower that happens to me” means. Like you are very tired and you don’t have the energy to do what you want / need to do? Like the symptoms of low blood sugar, after the sugar-high disappears? If this is, you can try to control better the glycemic response:
    – make them with more fats and fibers; or put some butter on top? (I don’t really know, because I am not a fan of brownies. Except these: 🙂
    – eat them like in the study: after your breakfast / first meal of the day, which should be proteins+fats+fibers & small dessert, and no later than 3 pm (because insulin response is lower)
    – if your way of eating is more like a late lunch and dinner and you still have problems after eating the brownie at lunch, try to eat it at dinner – because when some of the negative side effects (tired, low energy) manifest, you should be sleeping. But if this is causes insomnia.. you do not have too many alternatives.

    Also maybe some ingredients cause insomnia in your case: cocoa / chocolate.
    The Claim: Chocolate can be disruptive to sleep?

    Stimulants in Chocolate That Are not Caffeine: Sugar, Theobromine, Phenylethylamine, Anandamide.

    Even small amounts of caffeine such as those found in decaffeinated coffee or chocolate, may be enough to cause insomnia in some people.

    This case – sugar-high before the low:
    – “Foods containing simple sugar can cause a big spike in blood glucose levels. This makes excess energy available for the body which can cause restlessness.
    Because the brain consumes a lot of glucose, a high blood glucose level can keep the brain ticking long after it should have powered down.”

    – “Avoid nocturnal hypoglycemia. In my clinical experience I have found nocturnal hypoglycemia (low nighttime blood glucose level) is an important cause of sleep-maintenance insomnia. When there is a drop in the blood glucose level, it causes the release of hormones that regulate glucose levels, such as adrenaline, glucagon, cortisol, and growth hormone. These compounds stimulate the brain. They are a natural signal that it is time to eat.”

    Here is the high-low blood sugar mechanism in this brownie-case:

    “Normally, you eat some food, your blood sugar goes up, insulin rises to take care of the nutrients, the nutrients are partitioned to their respective holding places, your blood sugar normalizes, and all is well. You’ll get hungry again, only when you need the food, when your body truly needs an input of energy. In some people, however, eating food (especially carbs) causes the pancreas to secrete an inordinately large amount of insulin, way more than you actually need. Your blood sugar drops from its postprandial high, but the insulin goes above and beyond, and your blood sugar continues to plummet past “normal.”

    Your body implores you to “eat, eat,” even though there’s no real need for added energy; it’s just that your low blood sugar is indicating a need for caloric energy. In people with well-functioning metabolisms, lower blood sugar generally matches up with a need for calories and nutrients. In the reactive hypoglycemic state, the two do not match up. Hunger is constant, but you’re not really nourishing yourself. You’re just eating to push up that blood sugar.

    In one sense, listening to your hypoglycemic body is working, because eating carbs raises your blood sugar and you feel better. But in the long run, it isn’t working, because you’re eating more than you need to eat, you’re gaining weight, and you’re not fixing the situation. Sticking with foods that don’t elevate your blood sugar to such dizzying heights (protein and fat) should give you better control over your blood sugar.”

    It seems that you have to avoid:
    – brain stimulants: sugar and cocoa / chocolate.
    – too much blood sugar variation: both too high followed automatic (if you have insulin problems) by too low, apparently cause insomnia.

    So the only option in my opinion is to eat them in lower quantities, early in the day, always with other foods that lower the glycemic load of the total meal.

    So.. very interesting information for me. Good that you have opened the subject. 🙂

    And I’m happy to hear that, except when eating sugar, you have solved your insomnia problems.

    Your replies are far too long. I am responding to your first question about the nature of my temporary lose of willpower. Say I stupidly have a brownie. That would cause me to binge at that moment. Or, should I avoid binging, later, I would notice that I stayed up until 4:00 A.M. episode binging on NetFlix, for example. By the next day, my willpower would be resurrected.

    I greatly prefer short comments, to the point, both to me and from me.

    About binge episodes after eating only one piece of junk, I’ve talked about in my first post about 3 causes, my money being on diet-restrict-crave-binge cycle, mainly psychological and not physiological reasons for the binge.

    About binging on Netflix:
    – after previous binging on brownies: if you have insomnia problems, they are caused by factors described in my last post (brain stimulants and high-low blood sugar)
    – if you try to resist the binge on brownies and have insomnia, may be because the mental effort to resist the binge is very big, stress hormones are released and your brain can not shutdown as usually.

    Other ideas I don’t have.

    Have a great week!

    bachcole – thank you for the subject and Adeline – thank you for your answers which I found very helpful and instructive.

    I have a type of food intolerance that has, as part of it, a withdrawal period that has emotional/cognitive/phsychological responses mitigated by eating the food again. It presents as a type of food addiction and takes 5 days for the craving to go completely away. I am intolerant to gluten and all grains except corn, all tested with extensive elimination dieting under mediacal/dietition overvue.

    Thank you Merryme for your message.

    I’ve also noticed that gluten triggers my compulsive eating and gluten addiction for days in a row, until I find the strength to resist the withdrawal symptoms.

    Your experience reminded me of this article:

    “One reason many gluten-sensitive people have trouble following a gluten-free diet is that they crave the very foods that they need to eliminate. When they consume the grains that cause intestinal damage, the stress causes their bodies to release natural opiates that are aptly named gluteomorphines. Hours later, the subsequent drop in the levels of these morphine-like brain chemicals can trigger a craving for gluten, a craving for that “good” feeling.

    When I recommend that patients give up gluten, they often react like addicts being told to give up their drug of choice. And when they do eliminate gluten, there is often a period of temporary discomfort thought to result from a temporary drop in the opiate levels in the brain. If you eliminate a food that triggers an opiate reaction, the resulting drop in your natural “high” can renew craving for the food in a vicious cycle of addiction. In these cases, patients may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headache, nausea, tremors, difficulty sleeping, depression, or irritability for several days or weeks after eliminating gluten. On the other hand, some people stop gluten and simply feel better right away. The level of discomfort experienced seems to be proportional to the level of gluten sensitivity present.

    Within two months of following a gluten-free diet, most of the physical cravings disappear. The stronger the gluten sensitivity and the associated craving, the more dramatic the response to being gluten-free. Some people will slip back into eating foods that trigger reactions, and may need ongoing work with a nutritionist and even psychological counseling to stay on course.”


    That does not explain the lack of willpower for other things, like getting to bed at a reasonable hour. I take willpower to be an “item”, a thing, subjectively speaking, a thing greatly to be desired. And it’s absence is noticed and is a bad thing. This does not mean that it can solve all problems, like imbalances and insulin resistance. But it is still very valuable, as when the cop screams at you and you respond politely rather than screaming back at him and saying that he has incestuous relations with his mother. (:->)

    I’m sorry. I honestly do not understand this concept of using your willpower to “get to bed at a reasonable hour”. For me, if I’m sleepy, I go to bed; if I am not sleepy, I watch TV, read a book, surf the net. And if I have problems with insomnia, I try to find the initial / original problem that prevents me to sleep at normal hours, and solve that. Forcing me to get to bed early will not cure my insomnia.
    I can’t use my willpower to fall asleep. Yes, I can use it to lie in bed and not in front of the TV, but sleep.. hell no. It can make me stay awake much more, because if I’m not sleepy, I start to think at problems and solutions and my brain works at full speed for another 2-3 hours. So for me is way better to keep my brain occupied with something light (TV, net) until sleepy, than to go to bed and waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaait.

    About what response will the cop receive, it depends mainly of my mood. Which also depends, among much others (cortisol, ..), of blood sugar imbalance.

    “Symptoms associated with a Blood Sugar Imbalance are:
    Irritability Anxiety Depression Mood swings Poor concentration Fat storage, especially around the midriff Brain fog Insomnia Cravings, especially for sweet foods Excessive thirst Addictions to caffeine containing drinks and/or alcohol and cigarettes Drowsiness during the day Excessive sweating Difficulty losing weight”

    “Blood Sugar and Mood Swings
    An extreme example is people with diabetes, who are very vulnerable to blood sugar highs and crashes. Highs and crashes can cause instant changes in mood and behavior, making the person angry, irritable, and even aggressive or violent. This study found that…
    – Low blood sugar was associated with “negative mood states,” especially nervousness
    – High blood sugar was sometimes associated with “positive mood states,” but it could also be associated with different negative moods, especially anger and sadness. This study found that high blood sugar increased “sadness and anxiety.””

    In my opinion, willpower is useless against biological imbalances. Like you can not control your body temperature with your willpower, the same way you can not control many other reactions of the body, like falling asleep, or not being always calm, or diet / restrict indefinitely without binge, etc.

    Your failure to understand only tells me that you failed to understand. It doesn’t seem like anything that you should brag about. It seems like a failure on your part. Perhaps a lack of experience. Your failure to understand does not cancel or deny the reality of my experience. Knowing the ins and outs of the details of ketogenesis and sugar control does not make one a person of wisdom.

    I have seen my brother control his pulse rate thanks to bio-feedback. I have done the same. Biofeedback gives us a certain amount of power over our unconscious processes.

    But still, that is not willpower. It is not spiritual growth.

    I’m sorry that you see this way my efforts to explain.

    Wish you all the best.

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