Tip: Two Amino Acids That Control Appetite

Eat more foods that contain these aminos and you'll get full faster and avoid gaining fat. Here's the list.

The Only Real Secret to Fat Loss

The easiest time to start a fat-loss diet is when you're really stuffed after a big meal. That's a joke, but not really. Think about how easy it is to plan a strict diet when you're full:

"Tomorrow I'm going to drop the junk food, eat 1800 calories a day, and get ripped" you think as you unzip your jeans to make room for that last slice of deep dish.

Then tomorrow comes, and then you get hungry, and then that crazy plan you had seems, well, impossible. So the only real secret to losing fat and keeping it off is to stay satiated. It's pretty easy to diet or stay lean when you're not that hungry.

For decades now, fitness gurus have tried to convince us that the best way to do this is to stuff down as many vegetables as possible. The idea was simply to fill the stomach with bulky, low-calorie foods. In extreme cases, bodybuilders and bikini competitors have even eaten tissues and starch-based packing peanuts to fill the void. (Don't do that. That's stupid.)

But many of the people who try to stuff themselves with veggies discover that it just doesn't do the trick. The belly may be full, but the brain is still screaming for more food.

Problem is, not all veggies send the brain the fullness signal. But thanks to some new science, we now know what does.

Certain brain cells control your appetite, and now we know which ones. Tanycytes are cells found in the part of your brain that controls energy levels and body weight. Basically, these cells detect nutrients and inform your brain about the food you've eaten.

It turns out that these cells respond to amino acids. (They do this via the umami flavor receptors on the tongue.) The aminos arginine and lysine react strongly with tanycytes, which in turn release info to the appetite-controlling portion of your brain in 30 seconds flat.

To activate your tanycytes and squash hunger fast, eat foods with high concentrations of arginine and lysine. These include:

  • Sirloin steak
  • Chicken
  • Lentils
  • Almonds
  • Mackerel
  • Plums
  • Apricots
  • Avocados

Scientists hope this new info on tanycytes will lead to treatments for obese patients. We may one day be able to suppress appetite by directly activating the brain's tanycytes without food, bypassing the digestive system.

Until then, if you're trying to lose fat or just want to stay lean, then include the above foods in your diet. It's better than stuffing your gut with a pound of veggies, and certainly tastier than packing peanuts.

  1. Lazutkaite G et al. Amino acid sensing in hypothalamic tanycytes via umami taste receptors. Molecular Metabolism, 2017
Chris Shugart is T Nation's Chief Content Officer and the creator of the Velocity Diet. As part of his investigative journalism for T Nation, Chris was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." Follow on Instagram