MIAMI (CBS4)– Low-carb diets are so popular they can seem like the only way to go to drop the pounds. But two women are trying to show there’s a better way to lose weight that includes carbs and improves your mood at the same time.
It’s all outlined in the book “The Serotonin Power Diet. One of the authors, Dr. Nina Frusztajer, explained that serotonin is a naturally-occurring brain chemical. Her co-author, Dr. Judy Wurtman, discovered in her research at MIT that not only can serotonin make you feel good, it can shut off your appetite and stop cravings.
“The weight loss program is based on harnessing the power of serotonin so you can eat less and lose weight,” said Frusztajer. The key to doing that is to eat carbohydrates. “Carbs set off a series of chemical reactions in your body that tell the brain to make more serotonin,” Frusztajer explained.
In their book, “The Serotonin Power Diet”, Frusztajer and Wurtman explain in detail which carbs to eat and when. For example, eat more protein in the morning and more carbs at night when serotonin levels are naturally lower. And you should eat low fat, non-fruit carbohydrate snacks between meals and after dinner.
The co-authors say snacks are key. “Snacking is the unique thing about this diet that people really like,” said Frusztajer.
“It can be nutritional foods, but the purpose of the snack is really to boost serotonin, just an amount to take the edge off your appetite,” Frusztajer said. She said the carb should be low-fat and not fruit, like pretzels or popcorn.
“The serotonin diet really debunks the myth that eating carbs leads to weight gain. What we find is that carbohydrates enable weight loss because they result in a good mood and also shut off the appetite.”
Some dieticians are skeptical of how it works.
Dr. Christine Mackey, an internist, said no matter what the diet, research shows they all result in similar weight loss.
“The people who maintain that weight loss are the people who actually adhere to the diet, so it doesn’t really seem to matter what diet you’re on, as long as you stick with it and incorporate other healthful behaviors such as exercise,” Mackey said.
Frusztajer says for their clients who follow the right portions and the right carbs at the right times, the serotonin power diet works.
“We have clients who say can sit down and eat entire bag of large size of Doritos, or walk in from work and can’t stop eating for hours,” Frusztajer says. “On this diet, they say for the first time, they are able to have a dinner and throughout the evening, they don’t have the cravings anymore.”