Why Does Sugar Make You Gain Weight?

August 20, 2022

If you’re someone with a sweet tooth, you may or may not be surprised that researchers have found sugar or the sweet taste to be the preferred food for both humans and animals. Today, our nutritionists will help you understand the metabolic connection of sugar, insulin, and weight gain. They’ll discuss how our brain fits into the sweet tooth and cravings equation and what happens in our body when we eat a lot of sugar and processed carbs. Tune in to hear how you can reset your brain’s pleasure center to help your metabolism!

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MELANIE: Welcome to Dishing Np Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I'm Melanie Beasley and I'm a registered and licensed dietitian. I've been working in the field of nutrition for over 30 years. The one question I have gotten over the past 30 years has been, why do I gain weight when I eat processed carbs and sugar? It would be so great if that wasn't so, but it is, Britni.

Also, why after eating a sugary treat do I want more and more and more? And clients tell me almost in a hushed tone, “I'm addicted to sugar. I think I'm addicted.” So listeners, I'm here to tell you most of us feel that way when we get some sugar and we're going to talk about that. It is hard to stop with one piece. And if you're that lucky person good for you.

BRITNI: Right.

MELANIE: But today, Britni and I will help you understand the metabolic connection of sugar to insulin and weight gain. And we will be discussing why our brain tells us that we want more and more food after just one bite of these sugary treats.

BRITNI: Well, good morning to everybody. You know, it may surprise you, but researchers have found that sugar or a sweet taste is actually the preferred food for both humans and animals. And I should introduce myself. I am a registered and licensed dietitian and have been working in the field of nutrition for the past 10 years. My name is Britni Vincent. And yeah: sugar, sugar, sugar, sugar.

MELANIE: Sugar, sugar, sugar. It is, it is what we hear daily.

BRITNI: It is. Absolutely. And if you consider all the health problems people are currently experiencing the one that people seem to be most concerned about is their weight.

MELANIE: Yes. It's not the only thing we are concerned when we see a client, but it certainly is the biggest starting point is when we come in and we focus on what's going on with my weight, then we get to look at the total human being and say, all of you matters.

BRITNI: Yes. Mm-hmm. Yeah, definitely. And yeah, I think in the past two and a half years, I know you hear this, but “I've gained a lot of weight. I've been eating more sugar. I've been drinking more alcohol.” So I think people are really feeling motivated to, to turn that around right now. So today Melanie and I are going to share some biochemical reasons for weight gain and why sugar and processed carbs are the major contributors to these higher BMI levels. And I think it helps people to understand that there are biochemical reasons for cravings and why we want sugar so badly. You know, it's not just it an issue of lack of willpower.

Cravings are not lack of willpower-it’s biochemistry


MELANIE: It's not. I tell my clients all the time: this is not your character. This is not a character flaw. It truly is chemistry. And when we get that chemistry straightened out, you feel the freedom from that sugar addiction and I've experienced it myself. So if we could look inside your body and brain, that would be great. And then we could see what happens when we eat processed carbs, or when we eat high sugar drinks or high sugar foods. So this morning let's talk about some of the ins and outs of sugar or better yet the ups and downs of sugar.

First off, sugar interacts with your brain. Too much sugar has a bad effect on the brain, but too little glucose, which is the blood sugar that floats around in us or sugar in the brain isn't good either. So for the best brain health you want just the right amount of carbohydrate. The amount, the right amount is found in vegetables. Is that surprising? Everyone’s starting to eat their breakfast.

It's surprising for a lot of people. We're talking vegetable carbohydrates. So for most people we suggest eating one to two cups of low glycemic vegetables, such as green beans with a half a cup of higher carbohydrate vegetable, such as carrots. So an easy way I tell my clients to remember this: the high carbohydrate vegetables are the ones that grow below the earth. The ones that grow above the earth with except for corn and legumes are the low glycemic, low carb veggies.

BRITNI: Perfect.

MELANIE: So eating vegetables as your source of sugar gives your brain the correct amount of glucose in the brain for you to think and function your best. Now don't turn the radio show off because I said vegetables is your sugar. We're going to get there. I promise you.

BRITNI: It's a process.

MELANIE: It's a process. And too much sugar tends to shut down memory while too little creates an anxious brain. There is a direct connection between your mental health and the regulation of glucose or sugar in your brain.

BRITNI: Yeah. It's hard to believe for a lot of people, but I mean, we see it.

MELANIE: We see it. And we're seeing more and more people with anxiety.

BRITNI: Younger and younger ages, unfortunately.

MELANIE: Yes. Yes.

BRITNI: And sugar has a direct connection with your hormones and your metabolism.

MELANIE: Your hormones.

Sugar’s impact on hormones and metabolism

BRITNI: Yeah. We're going to talk about insulin because that is your master hormone. So for all of your other hormones to be in balance and to function efficiently, it is really important to have the correct amount of insulin. And if you eat too many carbs in one sitting, like let's say a big plate of pasta.

MELANIE: Or the favorite bowl of popcorn.

BRITNI: Yes. There you go. Then your pancreas is going to output too much insulin to handle that large blood sugar spike that you just got from the pasta or the popcorn. And over time eating like this is going to cause weight gain. It's going to slow your metabolism, create inflammation, lead to insulin resistance, eventually on that path: prediabetes, type two diabetes.

But on the other hand, when you eat vegetables as your source of carbohydrates, like Mel was describing, your pancreas releases just the correct amount of insulin to control the amount of glucose in your body. So your whole body and your brain function best. And if you are somebody that's already down that path and you have insulin resistance, guess what? It's reversible.

MELANIE: It is reversible. You know, what I love right now is I have a lot of clients that are getting continuous glucose monitors.


MELANIE: And they can see, oh my goodness. When I have my beloved popcorn, my blood sugar went skyrocket high and it didn't recover like it's supposed to. So it has been a world of information for these clients. I absolutely love when they get… I had a client yesterday and she's going to purchase one that is a month trial.

BRITNI: Oh, that's great.

MELANIE: So it's, it's more reasonable to, and she said, I'm going to use it for a month. And I said, and then we'll see how your body responds to certain foods. Yeah. It's going to be brilliant. I can't wait.

BRITNI: The data is so powerful. I mean, in our head, we know a big plate of pasta isn't great for you, but somehow you can justify it or ignore it. But if you see that data; oh my gosh, my blood sugar is 180 after eating that?


BRITNI: Then a lot of people just say, okay, wow, that's not worth it.

MELANIE: That's not worth it for me. And I do have clients that say, but I anchored my blood sugar with, I put butter on it. And they're doing their best. They put some butter on there, ate some chicken with it. But it's not a half a cup of pasta. Generally, we're talking a cup or two.

BRITNI: Yeah. For sure.


Sugar affects neurotransmitters


BRITNI: For sure. You know, another aspect of your body that sugar affects is your neurotransmitters.


BRITNI: Specifically dopamine.

MELANIE: Mm-hmm.

BRITNI: So excess sugar leads to a huge surge in dopamine release and some release of dopamine is good. Of course, it helps with focus, achieves our life goals. We feel happy, good, but too much dopamine released from sugar sets us up to be addicted to that dopamine release. And then we want more and more because in the moment, high sugar, high dopamine, it feels wonderful. But of course, it doesn't last very long. Right?


BRITNI: And too much sugar too often really just kicks the brain into overdrive. And over time you can actually increase your tolerance to sugar. So you need more sugar to get that same dopamine boost. Same thing happens as caffeine, alcohol, drugs. So thinking of it in that way, you know, just like any other substance that can be addictive, I think is really powerful.

MELANIE: I think it is.

BRITNI: And a lot of people are in that, in that cycle.

MELANIE: I think when you look at the level of anxiety broadly across our country, and the level of sugary drinks or processed carbs or wine that converts to sugar, beer converts to sugar, you have that dopamine hit, but then you have the crash.


MELANIE: And so the crash is where we're getting that anxiety.


MELANIE: Not just from the blood sugar crash, but a dopamine crash. And it's very addicting. We've done, well it's time for our new, our break. So we're going to go ahead and finish this when we get back, but you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness.

A few weeks ago, we had a request from a listener to do a show and podcast on why do I gain weight every time I eat sugar more than I should? So today we'll discuss the role of that insulin plays in weight gain. And we will also discuss why sugar is so addicting and the steps to take to reduce the hold sugar has on you. We'll be right back.


BRITNI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Here is an interesting sugar consumption fact: the average American consumes 17 teaspoons of sugar daily; yikes, which adds up to be about 57 pounds of sugar annually. And the American Heart Association recommends six teaspoons or less of added sugar daily for women and nine teaspoons or less for men. So we are way above that.  

MELANIE: We are.

BRITNI: Most people are eating two or three times that amount. So if you are ready to reduce your sugar intake now is the best time of any time. Right? I encourage you to sign up for the Dishing Up Nutrition sugar challenge that starts August 22nd and runs for five days. Stay tuned and we will share how you can sign up and join our free sugar challenge. And just that commitment. And knowing that you're doing it with a group, I think is really, really helpful for people. I have a client who she's signing up for it. Life's been stressful, more sugar's been sneaking into her life. And so she's just ready and this is going to kickstart to, to get rid of it again.

MELANIE: I love it. I love that at the end of the challenge, you feel like you have the freedom from that addiction. It's a perfect time to do it right now before we head into, I don't. I hate to say it but fall.


Research studies showing addicting effects of sugar


MELANIE: And the holidays are coming right after that. Well, we were talking about, you know, that chemistry that we find with that addiction. And I had read a study in doing research for this show and it was a study that they did with mice. And they put at the end of their little maze, they put cocaine or the end of their little maze they also had a group they put sugar. Guess what they chose?

BRITNI: Sugar.

MELANIE: Sugar over the cocaine was more addicting for these mice. So if you're feeling bad about yourself, know that it is that brain chemistry. It is a hormone connection. So I know you had a study you were talking about.

BRITNI: Yeah. Yeah. So this was a study at The University in Denmark and it was published in 2020 in the journal, Scientific Reports, and they examined the effect of sugar intake on the reward system in the brain of pigs. And they found after just 12 days of sugar intake, they saw a major change in the brain’s dopamine and opioid systems. So researchers, the conclusion implied that foods high in sugar influence the brain rewards system in ways similar to those observed when addictive drugs are consumed.

MELANIE: Yes. And I believe that because we, I used to work in ministry and we served a meal every Wednesday night. And that was also the day that we had an addiction group-teen challenge that would come in and they would do worship service with us. Well, we always served that meal and I knew on those days to have volunteers put out twice the coffee, twice the sugar, twice the sugary creamers, because it was a replacement for the, what they were trying to detox from is they reach for the sugar and the caffeine. And it was just that dopamine hit from the drugs and alcohol they were replacing with the sugar. You know, it's a transition.


MELANIE: So it, it truly affects that dopamine center that we crave to feel good.


How to eat to support dopamine production


MELANIE: Well, how do you eat to get the appropriate amount of dopamine release to function your best? The foundation of the Weight and Wellness eating plan will give you just the correct amount of dopamine release. What is this foundation? Okay. Eat three to four ounces of cooked animal protein at your meal. Plus one to two cups of vegetables with one tablespoon of that natural fat, such as butter or olive oil. This simple, balanced, real food plan, we believe should be the foundation of a good support for mental health. It is simple. It's effective. I see it in clinic. I know you do too.

BRITNI: It works.

MELANIE: It works. We need those three magical components together to balance the blood sugar and to get the right dopamine amount.

BRITNI: Yep. And eating too much sugar has a negative effect on your immune system. Believe it or not. And during COVID they have found people, people with higher blood sugar levels seem to be the ones who had the worst symptoms and outcomes.

MELANIE: Yes, yes.

BRITNI: And sugar also feeds the bad bacteria in your gut. And then those little bugs in your gut say feed me sugar. So for some people, this is a big cause of their sugar cravings.

MELANIE: More chemistry connection to those cravings.

BRITNI: Yeah. And then over time that can contribute to what we call dysbiosis; too much bad bacteria in comparison to your good guys.

MELANIE: Yes. We've got to have that, that balance of good guys and the bad guys we do in your gut.

BRITNI: We do. And sugar’s also been shown to affect every single organ in your body, even your skin health. And your skin is actually the largest organ. I know that is kind of surprising for a lot of people. And so oftentimes excess sugar causes skin issues. And that also is a big connection to that gut health I was just talking about.


BRITNI: You have more bad bacteria in your gut. Oftentimes that shows up through your skin.


BRITNI: So acne, eczema.

MELANIE: Rashes.

BRITNI: Rashes. I mean, the list goes on. I, I feel like I see a lot of clients with skin conditions nowadays. And if we, so we've established sugar, eating sugar is not good for our health. And I think people know this at that point then why, why is it so hard to stop? I mean, that's the big question. Why is that our preferred food?

MELANIE: And we're when we are talking about sugar, we're also talking about honey, maple syrup, molasses. Even though they're natural, they still have that same effect that we're describing: the dopamine hit, the rise and fall of blood sugar, the insulin production and feeding the bad bacteria.

BRITNI: I'm glad you mentioned that. Yes.

MELANIE: So to recap, we mentioned researchers have found that both humans and animals prefer a sweet taste because it is hardwired into us. Sugar or the excess intake of sugar hasn't been always a problem for people, but with 75% of people now either being overweight or obese, insulin resistant, prediabetes, 50% of adults have prediabetes or diabetes.


MELANIE: And 48% of people now have heart disease. We have to realize that excess sugar and processed carbs is a big problem. This is the first generation to live fewer years than the generation before. Them we've become a very sick nation. You know, and I also want to say, when we have high blood sugar floating around in our bloodstream, we are much like less likely to heal from a surgery.


MELANIE: A wound, because that sugar feeds bacteria and bacteria causes infection. So it's important.

BRITNI: Great point.

MELANIE: We we've got to take care of, and that's, I believe that immune system connection, we were talking about COVID or even colds and flu.


MELANIE: Sugar floating around in your blood stream lowers your immune system for two to three hours.


MELANIE: So we've got to take care of that.

BRITNI: Well, it's already time for our second break. We're going to talk more about all of this when we get back.

MELANIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Oh, sorry. We're going to break. Here's the thing, when we go to, when we come back, we'll be talking about what we're going to be doing about this problem with the sugar addiction. And we'll be right back.


BRITNI: Welcome back to Dishing up Nutrition. You know, I had talked about our free sugar challenge earlier, so hopefully you've been thinking about that and I'm sure many of you are feeling motivated to join. So step one: go to weightandwellness.com/challenge and register to join the sugar challenge from August 22nd to August 26th. And over the course of the five days, you're going to learn the science behind your cravings while taking on daily habits to, to have that breakup with sugar.

MELANIE: I love that. That breakup with sugar. Bye. Bye.

BRITNI: You know, know if you are having sugar cravings, absolutely. If you're feeling tired, if you have chronic pain.


BRITNI: I mean, I think we see that all the time. People have chronic pain feel so much better when they ditch the sugar.

MELANIE: Yes. Sugar equals pain. I had a client in the Nutrition for Weight Loss class say she can't believe how her knees don't hurt. And that was week three.

BRITNI: That's amazing.

MELANIE: And they get the plan on week two. She said, I, it was worth everything for me, because she thought I'm headed towards knee replacements.

BRITNI: That's great.

MELANIE: And I'm the same way. If I have sugar, I was just telling you if I have sugar, one of my favorite things in the world is baklava and I, you know, caved. The next two or three days, my knees killed me and I thought, wow, this, I remember, this is why I don't have this. It's not worth it to me to feel pain for two to three days. And it takes you what, 10 minutes to eat something.

BRITNI: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. I had a client recently with knee pain from arthritis. And when I asked her about it at our, our follow up appointment, she's like, wow, I didn't even realize I don't have daily pain anymore. I mean, these changes happen kind of gradually. And sometimes you don't realize all the positive changes until you sit down and really think about how was I feeling a month ago? Or, you know, I prompted her by asking her and yeah, it is just, it's amazing how much, how quickly people can feel better.

MELANIE: It's really fun to go through looking at what they came in with initially and then when they really apply themselves and then two or three appointments later, say let's revisit.


MELANIE: How's the rash? Oh it’s gone.


MELANIE: What about your achy knees and ankles? It's so much better. What about the heartburn? So improved. Or what about the itchy rash? I, that's part of my favorite thing. It's the best part of our job, I think. And then, because they forget, because like you said, it's, it's slow. It's also like, you know, the frog and the cold water and you turn up the heat and when you start incorporating sugar, you have a little and you're like, oh, I think I did okay. No problem. It is a very slow boil when you add it in and suddenly you're back to where you were.


MELANIE: With pain. It's a gradual it's, sugar is sneaky.

BRITNI: Oh it is so sneaky. So sneaky. Yeah. You know, we we've been talking, we are hardwired to, to love the sweet taste and like sugar. But I mean, obviously it wasn't always a problem for people and people didn't have access to sugar, nowhere near the access that we have now. So thinking about when did we switch to maybe having a little teaspoon of sugar in our coffee to we’re drinking a coffee, special latte with 25 teaspoons of sugar?

MELANIE: Yes. And candy on top. Some of them are just pure candy.

What happens in our body when we eat sugar/processed carbohydrates?


BRITNI: Yeah. Well, I, I want to revisit at the beginning of the show, I talked about blood sugar and insulin and those of you who are listeners of Dishing Up Nutrition, you've heard us explain this, but I think hearing it multiple times can be really important. So I want to explain what actually happens in our body when we eat sugar, the processed carbohydrates.

So let's say we do start our morning with even a vanilla latte. Vanilla latte seems pretty harmless, right? But then we're there and wow, that donut looks really good too. It's from a special bakery. I'm going to grab that. So who knows? At least 20 teaspoons of sugar in that. So that sends our blood sugar skyrocketing and then our pancreas is going to output insulin and that's going to grab onto the glucose in the blood. And then we have insulin receptors on our cells.

MELANIE: Like a little door.

BRITNI: Yep. Great way to think of it. So that insulin carries the glucose, goes to that door or that insulin receptor, has a key to unlock it. We carry the glucose in, we make energy.

MELANIE: Perfect.

BRITNI: So that's what should happen. However, eating meals and snacks that are that high in sugar and carbohydrates over time is actually going to damage our receptors. So that key is going to start to not work very well; not be able to carry the glucose in the cell and then we're not going to make as much energy. And we have all this excess blood sugar floating around in, in our blood, excess glucose in our blood. And that creates inflammation, fat storage. And then guess what? Our body's going to want more sugar.

MELANIE: It does. You know, I like to think of it as a fire hose effect. Once you flood your body with that excess sugar, it's like a fire hose effect. It cannot get it all into the cell and that floating blood sugar that the insulin can't get in that doorway, it starts creating disease, low immune system, hormone imbalances. And we're just thinking we're eating a donut and a coffee.


MELANIE: Brilliant. Yeah. Yeah. I love the way you described that.

BRITNI: And you know, this is not going to happen in a day or two. For most of us, this has gradually been happening since even childhood. Think about what you grew up eating. And, and again, as I mentioned at the beginning, it is reversible, which is amazing.

MELANIE: Once you get that doorway sort of slammed shut it does take focus.

BRITNI: Oh absolutely.

MELANIE: It does take more commitment. But once when clients feel like they are on top of the sugar addiction, they're like, I feel like I could do this forever. And that's the beauty is you become the boss of the food and the food is not the boss of you.

BRITNI: Yeah. Yeah.

MELANIE: That sugar addiction is a force to be reckoned with.

BRITNI: And you have to get rid of those cravings.

MELANIE: And you have to get rid of temptation in your house.

BRITNI: Yeah. That too. Yeah. I mean, I don't know. If there's some ice cream in my freezer, it is calling my name. But if I don't have it in the house, I'm not thinking about ice cream. I think most of us are like that. And so yeah, Melanie, you are so right. Get rid of the temptation.

MELANIE: Get rid of it. Gone is gone. You either throw it away. It's gone. Or you put it down your throat-gone. One causes inflammation, diabetes, hormone, anxiety, and the other one doesn't.


MELANIE: So gone is gone.


MELANIE: We want to get rid of that. Well, I remember my grandpa would put one teaspoon of sugar in his coffee: one teaspoon, and he would stir it and grandpa was not overweight. He didn't have diabetes. He didn't have heart disease. Every day he drank one. Maybe two cups of coffee with both a little sugar, maybe some heavy cream. Now today, many of us, including teens are drinking coffee with 25 teaspoons of sugar. Think about that. Is your teen experiencing anxiety? Is this the connection? Grandpa drank coffee with one teaspoon of real sugar, while teens are drinking coffee with the sweetness. And I have clients, adult clients with the sweetness coming from high fructose corn syrup, which has been found to be the leading cause of fatty liver disease, which I never used to see in clinic unless they were alcoholics.

Now we're seeing it. What's the connection? High fructose corn syrup. How did our society become a sugar society with many, many disease states? The harmful effects of sugar and insulin certainly is not new information. I picked up an old book off the shelf called The Protein Power Life Plan written by Dr. Michael Eades and Dr. Mary Dan Eades; both medical doctors. It was written in 2000 over 20 years ago.

Well, let me read a paragraph to you. “Medical researchers have implicated excess insulin as the cause of, or at the very least a major driving force behind the development of a majority of the diseases that affect many of us as we grow older. Here's the current list of insulin related disorders: heart disease: elevated, cholesterol: elevated, triglycerides, high blood pressure, blood clotting problems, colon cancer, type two diabetes, gout, sleep apnea, obesity, gastroesophageal reflex heartburn in people, peptic ulcer disease and polycystic disease.”

Wow. It may not seem possible to us that a hormone, insulin, could cause all these diseases, but it does. What causes excess insulin to be secreted? Remember when we eat or drink excess sugar or processed carbs our pancreas pumps out insulin, that excess insulin creates all these diseases. Sugar is the problem. How did we go from using a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of coffee to 25 teaspoons in a cup of coffee? We just had a “cup of coffee”. But we're creating disease with that. So it's a good question to ask yourself today.

BRITNI: Yeah. You mentioned teenagers eating so much sugar. Last week I was getting a salad for lunch at Panera and I saw two teens walk in and there's a Starbucks across the street. So they walked in with their large Starbucks drinks and then they were getting a bakery item in addition.


BRITNI: And yeah, I'm just thinking, oh my goodness. The amount of sugar in that and how are they going to feel in a couple hours?


BRITNI: Not good at all, but you know, of course, especially at that age, they're not making the connection.

MELANIE: They're not. And unfortunately this is the culture that the food industry has developed.


MELANIE: I mean, their job is to make money, not to protect our health. So we can't necessarily trust that everything that is offered is something that would be safe. So when you went into Panera, what did you have?

BRITNI: I had a cobb salad.

MELANIE: There you go. Cobb salad and a, maybe a black coffee?

BRITNI: I had an iced tea, black iced tea.

MELANIE: Black iced tea. And that's, it's amazing when you just make this change. So here's my challenge listeners. This week as an experiment, try swapping this for that. I'm not saying don't go to Panera with your friends. Panera's got some great options. I'm not saying don't go to the coffee house with your friends, but what if you went to a coffee house and you had black coffee with cream and you brought along some stevia or monk fruit that doesn't pop your blood sugar up?


MELANIE: And you sweetened it. I keep in my purse hazelnut stevia drops.


MELANIE: So I can make my own bougie drink without feeling horrible later, but that's my challenge. One week. Try it for a week and then really do a head to toe check in with yourself. How do you feel? So, all right. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. To manage your sugar cravings, I often tell my clients that it's important to include protein at every meal, like Britni's cobb salad. I have found that a protein shake is an easy way to boost my protein. To add taste and more antioxidant power, I add a scoop of Key Greens to my shake. One scoop of Key Greens and Fruits gives me an additional antioxidants that I love. This month, Key Greens are on special: 15% off. I also like to add frozen vegetables to my shake. So if you feel up to it. We'll be right back.

Shop Key Greens and Fruits


BRITNI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you missed last week’s show, I recommend listening to the podcast. Teresa Wagner, our colleague and fellow dietitian, interviewed two of her clients who experienced amazing success with weight loss and just overall health following the Nutrition for Weight Loss plan. So if you need a boost and some motivation, just sit back, listen to this amazing upbeat podcast. The show was from August 6th, 2022, called Consistency and Weight Loss Success.

MELANIE: It keeps you motivated.


MELANIE: When you hear these success stories, keeps you motivated. I also steer my clients towards our website.


MELANIE: And put in the search engine “success stories”. And that will keep you motivated. And that will see because sometimes you feel like, and by ever going to get better? It feels like this long journey. Yes, you will.

BRITNI: You will.

MELANIE: You will get better. So you just can't do what you're doing, fuel your body appropriately, balance your blood sugar and not have your body respond. Our bodies are designed to heal themselves when we quit assaulting our body with chemicals, high blood sugars, high insulin. But also when we fuel our body with the nourishment that we need are the building blocks for every cell. And when you start eating the Weight and Wellness way, that's what we're doing. It's simple.

BRITNI: We're healing at a level. And I, unfortunately we want instant success with everything.

MELANIE: Everything.

BRITNI: And just think about how many years did it take you to get to your body to the place it is now?


BRITNI: Maybe your entire life. Maybe 10 years. A long time, regardless. So to expect your body to be healed in a month's time is just unrealistic. You know, it's a process.

MELANIE: It's a process.

BRITNI: And, but along that process, you are going to feel better.

MELANIE: Yes. And not only feel better, but the weight comes down when we heal the body. So we are weight and wellness. You know, and we do look at your wellness because it is connected to your weight.


MELANIE: And it's a beautiful thing. When you start healing, the body, the weight begins to come down. And that's, you know, it's a beautiful thing.

Dopamine, sugar and addiction connection


BRITNI: You know, we've been talking about the biochemistry and we know that large amounts of dopamine are released when we're eating large amounts of sugar. And again, that dopamine from sugar puts us into that addictive eating and drinking pattern. Cause we constantly want that hit a dopamine because it feels so good.

But then it seems almost impossible to say no to that muffin or brownie or whatever it is. It's like our brain and body were just overtaken with too much sugar. And that just sets up for this large dopamine release. And that “can't stop with, with one”. So for many people, the more sugar they eat in the past, the more difficult it is for them to clear sugar out of their diet. So even when they're aware of the damaging effects. So again, acknowledging it is a process and we know weight gain is one of those damaging effects from sugar.

MELANIE: Yep. Yeah. Definitely one of those damaging effects and then it puts a burden on your joints.


MELANIE: Sugar addiction is real. I remember a local addiction counselor shared that she believed Mountain Dew is a drug or drink to having an addiction to other drugs. It's kind of a gateway, could be a gateway drug she was saying, I, I don't know, but I, I just think Mountain Dew can be so absolute deadly in so many ways to your body, between the caffeine and the sugar.

Granted, this is one counselor's opinion, but it is something to think about. Sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup: that's what's in these sodas; it's the sweetener and Mountain Dew and most sodas and juice drinks have a bad effect on the brain because of the excessive dopamine release from sugar that you were talking about, Britni. Your brain just doesn't always want to do what’s good for you.


MELANIE: Remember whatever causes dopamine to be released, your brain will say, I want more of that.


MELANIE: Whether it's drugs, whether it's alcohol, whether it's sugar. Sometimes it's exercise. Yeah. That would be a better alternative. Right? Get some exercise for that dopamine hit. You're most likely to repeat the behavior that rewards you with the dopamine hit. Maybe it's buying a pastry when shopping for groceries is one of those old behaviors that sabotages your healthy eating plan. Maybe it's the drive through on the way home. Sugar causes the dopamine release and your brain says, “Eat more of that”. So we're battling our own brains. And sometimes what we need to do is balance our blood sugars physically instead of trying to white knuckle it through mentally.

BRITNI: Absolutely. And I, I think you need to take a moment to, to think about what is your own biochemistry? Are you resonating with this dopamine cycle that we're explaining? Do you feel like you are addicted to sugar and you can't stop with one? If you are saying yes, that's me then it's best not to even start.


BRITNI: Right?

MELANIE: And we will help you. Make an appointment with us.

BRITNI: Absolutely.

MELANIE: This is what we do.

BRITNI: Yep. It's what we're here for.

MELANIE: Well, we're, we're here for you.

BRITNI: Versus the people, you know, there are some people, lucky people that can have one little bit and they can walk away and that's, that's different.

MELANIE: I don't know those people. Do you know those people?

BRITNI: There's, there's not many of them out there. So acknowledge your biochemistry, accept it, and then you can move forward.

MELANIE: Yes. No shame. No shame in the game. All you have to do is correct that biochemistry.

Say no to sugar by balancing the blood sugar


BRITNI: And if you're, if you are again, feeling motivated, then let's, let's start the process of resetting your brain's pleasure center. So you had talked about balancing your blood sugar, Melanie, just a second ago. So that's, that's where you start. So it's, it's simple in, in theory. We know that it can be difficult to execute sometimes, but it's that meat or fish, that animal protein that keeps us satiated, boosts our metabolism, gives us the building blocks to make dopamine and other neurotransmitters; add some vegetables for those healthy carbohydrates-gives us lots of good fiber and nutrients. And then the fats are crucial.

MELANIE: Crucial.

BRITNI: Yeah. So the fats are the anchor to your blood sugar and fats are satiating. You know, think about broccoli. Plain broccoli is pretty boring, but you add some butter on top of that broccoli and it tastes darn delicious. And it becomes a lot easier to eat more. So really at focus on adding those healthy fats. And most of our brain is made of fat. So I have found, and I'm sure you have too, individuals that have anxiety, depression, addiction, they do really well with more, more higher amounts of this natural fat.

MELANIE: Natural fats like avocado, natural fats like nut butters, butter, good old bacon fat, olive oil, olives. These are good natural fats that fuel that brain.

BRITNI: Yep. And you know, most of my clients, when they're starting out, they really do best with weekly or biweekly support as they're developing these new lifestyle habits and they, you need the support and some people also, you need that accountability too.

Nutrition Counseling

MELANIE: They do. Our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thanks for joining Britni and us today.

BRITNI: Thank you.

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