Hard training, high volume training and conversely challenged recuperation can and will deplete our neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters for want of a better descriptive are our accelerator and brake pedals to make the body perform as we wish.
It can be a shot in the dark trying to "guess" our neurotransmitters of a hurdle- especially in any hierarchical fashion. Burning the candle at both ends tends to pooch virtually all.
For those wishing to self-analyze, Dr. Braverman's online personality test is a fine start: https://www.bravermantest.com
Serotonin is the focus of this article (which in all honesty could be a book). Too often gym enthusiasts take large amounts of BCAA's in an attempt to bolster performance and training outcomes. But these aminos will compete with tryptophan for absorption in effect challenging the body's ability to make serotonin.
Did you know scientists use large boluses of BCAAs to practically deplete tryptophan and thus reduce serotonin ?? (Fernstrom. 2005).
Low serotonin is usually the demon driving food/ carb craving amongst other things. To name a few telltales to watch for include :
Physical issues: Aches and soreness, allergies, carbohydrate cravings, dizziness, drug or alcohol addiction, drug reactions, hypertension, insomnia, muscle tension, nausea, night sweats, palpitations, PMS, salt cravings, tachycardia, ringing in ears, tremors, urinary frequency, vomiting, weight gain.
Personality issues: depersonalization, depression, impulsiveness, lack of artistic appreciation, lack of common sense, lack of pleasure, social isolation, masochistic tendencies, obsessive-compulsive disorder, perfectionism, phobias, rage, self-absorption, shyness.
Memory issues: Confusion, memory loss, too many ideas to manage.
Attention issues: Difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, restlessness, slow reaction time.
Now clearly low serotonin is not the only contributor to much, but if an appreciable amount of the list above is resonating, we can benefit by supporting our serotonin levels with a few things:
5-hydroxytryptophan aka 5-HTP (a metabolite of tryptophan) is a direct serotonin precursor that appears to be the more promising supplement. Taken in dosages of 400-1,000mg/day it has been shown to
(a) reduce food intake (up to 18% more than placebo in a 1989 study w/ obese women | Ceci. 1989),
(b) increase weight loss in a 12-week study with obese women (Cangiano. 1992) and
(c) reduced the food and specifically carbohydrate intake in both male and female type II diabetics (Cangiano. 1998).
Scientists from the University of Barcelona were able to show that chronic treatment with a tryptophan-rich protein hydrolysate improves emotional processing, mental energy levels and reaction time in middle-aged women.
RELORA or basically extract of Magnolia/Phellodendron (MP) have shown to reduce both cortisol exposure and the perception of stress/anxiety while improving weight loss in subjects with stress-related eating.
Competitive athletes are “stressed” by their intense exercise regimens in addition to their normal activities of daily living and clearly benefit from a natural therapy to modulate baseline perceptions of stress and stress hormone exposure.
If uncontrollable food/drink cravings (along with much listed above) are clearly your issue, I would switch out my BCAA usage for an EAA formula so all amino get representation and clearly it's time to take a pullback week in training while focusing more on recuperation than stimulation.
I have my clients use ATP's STRESSLESS for its RELORA/ 5-htp mix. A couple of caps at night with my usual melatonin/ Magnesium mix do wonders for re-establishing that sense of well being and vitality. Food cravings drop off quickly.
In a nod to my first Coach and mentor, Vince "the iron guru" Gironda, a return to egg-rich eating is a powerful restorative for tryptophan levels. In fact, the protein in eggs will significantly boost your blood plasma levels of tryptophan, and according to research, it is the yolks that are extremely rich in tryptophan (and tyrosine, choline, biotin, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients).
Keep doing good things for you !!
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