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Junk Food Cravings How to Control and Reduce Them

Studies done at the Weill Cornell Medical School and Scripps Institute have irrefutably shown that the craving for junk food is the same as the craving for cocaine and opiates.

In lab tests, it was shown that even the threat of pain did not deter the pigging out on junk food in the test subjects (they were rats, not college students).

The nerve centers in the brain that control pleasure are stimulated by both the drug and junk food in exactly the same manner.

The test subjects also showed that just like with drugs, the pleasure center in the brain became insensitive to the stimulation and required more drugs . . . or junk food, to provide the sensory pleasures the brain and body demanded. The results are a spiraling into drug addiction or obesity,

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==Junk Food Defined== Just exactly what is junk food?

A loose description is "any processed food that is high in fat, high in calories and low in nutrition."

This describes a large portion of the diet of many people; students reared on Big Macs, sweetened soft drinks and fat saturated French fries; busy adults grabbing a "meal" on the run; and people too lazy to cook real food.

Junk food is very available today; at the drive-through on the corner, the racks in the convenience store and the machines in schools and businesses.

The availability and lack of understanding by consumers about how little nutrition is in these cellophane wrapped, canned or boxed tidbits is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic in evidence throughout the civilized world, but in no place more evident than the USA.

Check the label on that wrapping, box or can and chances are you will read a lot of chemical names, along with the few natural ingredients whose names you recognize.

One of the common names is "high-fructose-corn-syrup," a sweetener, preservative and, in sufficient quantity, a poison. HFCS has been substituted for sugar in many foods and beverages, even peanut butter, jams and jellies.

That P-B-J sandwich (white bread, of course) may meet the definition of fast food; high calorie, high fat, low nutrition.

Fortunately today, prepared foods are labeled so anyone concerned about their health and what they put into their body, can make a conscious selection of foods that are less harmful . . . if they have to eat fast foods.

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Some of the fast food operations are even publishing the contents of their offerings, so you know that the double cheeseburger with bacon provides you with more than half of the recommended daily caloric intake for an adult male, while it exceeds the RDA of sodium and saturated fats. Eating such foods can easily ruin you muscle building efforts and muscle building diet.

==Treating the Addiction==

As with any addiction, a withdrawal from the source of pleasure can be a painful process. The addict has to be convinced that this move is the best for their health, they have to understand that it won't be easy and they have to have a little bit of self control in order for the "cure" to work.

A fast-food-free diet as an element of an overall fitness program has a better chance of being a permanent solution. When a person becomes committed to a self improvement program that involves major changes in physical activity, lifestyle and diet, each facet of the program is easier.

Once the withdrawal from high fat, high calorie meals and snacks has begun, it will be helpful to replace these items in the diet by substituting healthy foods and snacks. One of the big appeals to fast food is in the name, it's "FAST."

One way to overcome this is to have all the elements of good meals and snacks readily available. Prepare natural snacks; carrots, celery, fresh fruits, nuts and dried fruits ahead of time and have them packaged and readily available when the need (or urge) comes over you.

Prepare healthy main dishes in quantity and freeze them. They can even be taken to work. Use a lot of spices to make the meals more flavorful so your pleasure center is mollified with the substitute and doesn't miss that double-cheeseburger quite so much.

If eating at work isn't an option, then go to restaurants that serve real, live food, not pre-processed junk. You might be surprised to find that the service and food at a family restaurant will be better than at the fast-food drive-through and it is probably no more costly or time-consuming.

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==Beverages==

Opting for a "diet" soft drink does not help.

The artificial sweeteners and other chemicals in the canned or bottled drink can affect your metabolism in the same manner as the regular soda pop.

In fact, their effect may be even more harmful to your body than the regular drink, by stimulating your metabolism to slow down and store more fat. Learn to drink water or unsweetened tea or something like that.

A healthy lemon slice in water gives it a little tangy taste and may also help curb your appetite by shrinking your stomach somewhat.

Treating junk food addictions, just like the withdrawal from drugs or the drying-out from alcoholism, is largely mental after the physical addiction has abated. It is known at drug treatment centers, that the physical addiction wanes after just a few days, but the mental need to do drugs lasts much longer.

It is this mental addiction that must be addressed most forcefully. We have all heard the expression, "mind over matter." This makes reference to the fact that our minds are in control of our bodies, mostly on the subconscious side.

To affect a cure for any addiction, both the conscious and subconscious sides of the mind must be engaged. The subconscious side is the most influential on our habits and behavior, so some form of "auto-suggestion" may be employed to reprogram our mental computer.

Research has shown that our brains, particularly the subconscious mind, may be influenced by meditation or some form of self-hypnosis.

Self-hypnosis is really just freeing the subconscious by achieving a relaxed state and then making suggestions to yourself, suggestions that will influence your behavior.

One way to achieve this relaxed state or "zone" is to sit quietly in a comfortable chair, close your eyes and picture in your mind your backbone. Visualize a small light circling your lowest vertebrae, count to ten and move the light up to the next vertebrae for another ten-count.

critical bench

Continue up the 24 vertebrae.

A feeling of heightened awareness will come over you signifying your entry into the zone. Now you may make suggestions about junk foods, exercise or any other behaviors you want to influence.

You may prerecord your suggestions and play this during your time in the zone. Preface the voice recording by some relaxing music, about five minutes (the average time to reach the zone) should do.

As you become more adept are reaching this state, it will take far less time, particularly if you give yourself a suggestion that some action will precipitate the relaxation and entry, something like crossing your fingers or clasping or interlocking your hands over your midsection.

This action is called a "post-hypnotic suggestion" much like those you are giving yourself about junk food addiction.

Thousands of people have used this suggestion successfully. If you approach an addiction to junk food with an understanding of what it is, that your are not alone in this and you can overcome it with the desire to change, a little willpower, perseverance and a total program approach, you will win this battle.

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