How to manage hunger: why fullness is not the same as satisfaction
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Understanding how protein and carbohydrate influence your blood sugars, productivity levels and weight management

There is a BIG difference between fullness and satisfaction, yet mostly people rarely think about this. Understanding the difference is critical for lasting energy, good productivity at work and healthy weight management. To understand fullness and satisfaction it is useful to look at the science of food and how they influence your blood sugars.

Carbohydrates are sugar. The type of carbohydrates found in grains, legumes and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn and yams are complex carbohydrates, (which mean they have long chains of sugar). The type of carbohydrates in fruits, veggies, lactose (sugar in milk and yogurt) as well as sweets and sugary foods are simple sugars (contain single and double units of sugar). Carbohydrates go into the bloodstream relatively quickly. This means if you simply just ate a slice of toast for breakfast with fruit, you will likely be hungry within one to two hours. Eating meals exclusively with carbohydrate without sufficient protein can make you feel like you are on a giant rollercoaster ride with big rises and falls in your energy, mood and hunger.

We crave carbohydrates since our brain and central nervous system runs exclusively on them as an energy source. We need approximately 120 grams of carbohydrate (equivalent to about a cup of rice, few pieces of fruit and a few pieces of bread) alone simply to run the brain and central nervous system without moving. On top of that we need additional carbohydrates for our muscles for physical activity. Carbohydrates also elevate serotonin levels, which is a neurotransmitter that boosts mood.

Protein is found in foods such as meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, legumes, nuts, nut butters, cheese, milk and yogurt. Protein does not turn into sugar in the blood (since it does not contain carbohydrates) but it does play an important role in sustaining energy, improving blood sugar control and increasing satiety. If you were to eat protein alone in a lunch such as a salad containing low-carb veggies such as lettuce along with chicken, the volume of food you consumed would fill your stomach up but simply not sustain the brain and muscles with energy. This is often why, mid afternoon after consuming a lunch like this, you may feel tired, unsatisfied or start craving sweets or carbs.

A simplified way to think about this is:
>> Carbohydrates provide you with brain satisfaction.
>> Protein provides you with stomach fullness.

When you are thinking about meal planning for your breakfast, lunch and supper think about marrying carbohydrates with protein so that you are both satisfied AND full. This will help you feel like you are on a train ride rather than a rollercoaster ride. One easy way to think about this is to have 3 things in your meal (grains/starches; veggies/fruit; source of protein).

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