Food Addiction and Why Diets Fail - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Food Addiction and Why Diets Fail

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Most of us know what it's like to start a diet with the best of intentions, trying to lose weight or get healthier, and then fail miserably. And there might be a reason why, that has nothing to do with bad willpower.

Robb Wolf, a Reno biochemist and author of the New York Times bestselling books "The Paleo Solution" and "Wired to Eat" said the widespread diet failure is largely due to a combination of genetics, community, and sleep.

He's making the case that we are hardwired to eat certain foods, and that everyone's body reacts differently to different types of food. So a one-size-fits all diet plan may not work for you, even if it worked well for someone you know.

"What we've discovered with that," Wolf said, "is that our genetics, the genetics of the gut microbes that live inside us and on us, seem to interact in a way that really makes all of us respond to different foods in a pretty unique way."

The example he gives is a personal one. He and his wife tested their blood sugar levels before and after eating certain carbohydrates. While some made his blood sugar spike, they didn't have that effect on his wife. This variability in results makes it very difficult for any of us to follow blanket nutrition advice and see results.

Wolf is all about quantifiable measurement, saying that the only way to know for sure if a food affects you negatively, is to cut out the foods that are most likely to give you trouble, take a break from them, and then introduce them back in.

He named wheat products, foods containing gluten, and dairy as big issues for a lot of people. He advocates cutting them out for 30 days, then adding them back in to see how you feel.

"What I'm suggesting is that they give it a shot," Wolf said. "Thirty days, pull most of the problem foods out, and then reintroduce them and see how they do."

Of course it's not just what we're eating, but how much. Wolf said that's a particularly tricky factor to control in a world that's full of readily available, hyper-palatable food, specifically designed to get us to overeat.

"With these modern, hyper-palatable foods, you can just keep bypassing the off-switch," Wolf said. "They're become very good at it, the folks that make these foods. They're very, very good at their jobs."

Wolf writes in "Wired to Eat" that hyper-palatable foods, like fast food or junk food, actually raise the bar in our brains, in terms of how much of a "pleasure feeling" we get from eating them. Eat them often enough, and you rewire your brain to expect food to be that high level of palatable. When you try to eat healthier, whole food, your brain rejects it. In this way, you can actually become chemically addicted to unhealthy food.

But it's not your fault. Wolf said you can blame your ancestors, your genetics, and your survival instincts.

"When you look at the world we evolved in versus the world we live in," Wolf said, "we are wired genetically to eat anything that's not nailed down, and then go lay down and take a nap."

And speaking of naps, Wolf named not sleeping enough as the number one mistake people are making when it comes to weight loss and overall health. He said more sleep will naturally reduce your appetite, and help your body work more efficiently to burn those calories.

To see the full interview with Robb Wolf, tune in or set your DVR for Face the State this weekend. It's airing Saturday, 4-1 at 4:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. and Sunday, 4-2 at 6:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Episodes of Face the State are also posted here after they air.

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