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Giving Into Cravings Can Be A Sign Of Metabolic Problems

Can’t stay motivated? It might be your metabolism

If you find yourself fighting food cravings too many times a day to resist, if you’ve taken “just a piece” more often than you care to admit, you should know that your issue is no character flaw. In my experience, the willpower lapses that lead most folks into snacking excesses are coming from a serious metabolic problem, one that’s changing how your brain works. And this means that if you’ve been unsuccessful in losing weight, there’s a strategy that you’ve probably never heard of before that just might make all the difference.

So far, the vast majority of self-help and motivation experts emphasize focusing on aligning your weight loss goals with other beliefs, judgments values, and expectations about yourself. They help people lose weight by identifying their reason for wanting to lose weight and adopting a new mindset of responsibility rather than rationalizations. This is all good stuff that has helped millions. But it would help so much more if you were freed of the metabolic issues depriving your brain of needed energy.

From a metabolic perspective, motivation requires mental work. So, if you want more willpower, what you need is more energy—specifically for your brain. Getting energy to your brain cells is key to fortifying your willpower, and I make it the first priority when working with patients.

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I would like to thank you for literally saving my life. Back in February, I had to be hospitalized while on vacation in Phoenix with an A1C of 11% and had to start taking 2 types of insulin and 2 other meds. I read the Fatburn Fix in April, and followed the program to a tee, and I’m down by 15 pounds, 6.8 A1C, and only one once weekly diabetes medicine. Prior to reading the book, it was almost impossible for me to lose weight as a diabetic. 

Leontyne Tompkins

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For the last month, I have really been reading all labels on everything. I have completely remove those 8 oils you talk about. I must tell you, I feel great! I have more energy and I am now 197 lbs (have always been around 205 to 210lbs). I eat potatoes with real butter, grass fed steak, pasta with the right toppings. I eat everything! I seem to crave less sugar. I love it! 

Robert Kirkendall

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I had terrible aches and pains everywhere in my body, my hands, shoulders and knees. I feel so much better and the way I feel is motivating me every day! Thank you

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I’ve lost over 50 pounds. I’m 56 years old. Cutting processed food and unhealthy fats from my diet was one of the first things I did on my health recovery journey...I went cold turkey off the bad oils. Emptied my pantry into the trash and just started eating real food

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Your Fatburn Fix book is amazing, my friend. Thank you! I’m an Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and I know my stuff. This is the extra layer of knowledge I didn’t know I needed. Well done!

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I have lost a solid 20 lbs and my bloodwork (after 3 months of eating your way) was even better! I was metabolically healthy (per your book) before I read your book, but barely. Lowering my weight, sealed the deal! I have been talking about you and your book to anyone who will listen...Thank you for all you’ve done and what you continue to do! You are changing lives for the better!

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I love your Fatburn Fix!  Has helped me so so much!  I have had the dreaded weight all my life - 20 or so pounds I could never shed.  I have lost that now. I only eat 2 meals a day lunch and dinner with a glass of milk or cappuccino around 4 to hold me over. No snacking and not bad oils.  It has been the key to unlocking my fatburn.  I work out in the am and believe I am burning fat for energy not from food!

Lauren Smith

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My waist is four inches smaller. I feel great and many of the minor aches and pains that I had (knees and lower back) are gone. Also, my muscle tone is amazing, even though I have not increased my workout routine.

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Completed Dr Cate's online course
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Dismantles the lie

Dr. Cate dismantles the lie that seed oils are healthy, which may the biggest lie about nutrition and health because it’s so insidious.  

Ken D Berry, MD
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Dr. Drew Pinsky

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Dr. Kelly Starrett
Physiotherapist coach and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author
Brian Lenkzes

Highly recommend The Fatburn Fix

Dr. Shanahan has had a significant impact on my practice of medicine. I am known as a Low Carb Doctor, but I never really appreciated the negative effects of processed seed oils on the health of my patients. I highly recommend The Fatburn Fix to my patients and have a loaner copy in my waiting room. It is amazing how quickly blood sugars and overall health improves with cutting seed oils. It is not just about the carbs!

Dr. Brian Lenkzes, MD
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Dr. Cate reordered my diet when I was with the L.A. Lakers, and the benefits, for me personally, were felt immediately and have served me to this day. I’ve come to take real food so seriously I started a small family farm. I know of no M.D./nutritionist more respected in the sports world than Dr. Cate Shanahan.

Chris Kaman
NBA Player
Mark Sisson

Brought seed oil issue front and center

Cate brought the seed oil issue front and center. Healthy fats matter. So much so that I created an entire product line to swap out bad fats with good.

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Joesph Mercola

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Dr. Shanahan has provided a solid reference that deserves a place in the library of anyone who is seriously interested in nutrition. Her perspective on the vital role that healthy fat has in our diet is novel and, if implemented, can radically improve your health.

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Dave Aspery

Pull up a chair…

I have based my work on the idea that getting the right kinds of healthy fats into your body and avoiding the worst fats is essential to optimal health. I've interviewed dozens of the world's top experts about this, and I know of no one who speaks more eloquently on this topic than Dr Cate. If she’s talking fats, pull up a chair. Take notes.

Dave Asprey
Author of the Bulletproof Diet

The key to unlocking my fatburn

I love your Fatburn Fix!  Has helped me so so much!  I have had the dreaded weight all my life - 20 or so pounds I could never shed.  I have lost that now. I only eat 2 meals a day lunch and dinner with a glass of milk or cappuccino around 4 to hold me over. No snacking and not bad oils.  It has been the key to unlocking my fatburn.  

Lauren Smith

Saved my life

I would like to thank you for literally saving my life. Back in February, I had to be hospitalized while on vacation in Phoenix with an A1C of 11% and had to start taking 2 types of insulin and 2 other meds. I read the Fatburn Fix in April, and followed the program to a tee, and I’m down by 15 pounds, 6.8 A1C, and only one once weekly diabetes medicine. 

Leontyne Tompkins

> Tears of joy

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Penni Wicks


In other words, in order to lose weight, you need to boost your brain.

Mental focus lapses come from low brain energy
Mental focus lapses often come from low brain energy

What does brain energy have to do with weight loss?

To lose weight you need to think clearly and be able to delay gratification. You need to plan ahead because planning is key to forming new, healthy, and sustainable habits. There’s a lot of willpower that goes into forming new habits, too. It’s been my experience that the number one reason folks trying to eat healthier fall off the diet wagon has to do with a moment of low brain energy when they give in to a craving.

Let’s say there’s a Dairy Queen on your commute home from work. For the first few weeks of your no-ice cream New Year’s resolution, you’ve been able to resist the urge to pull over as you drive home. Then, after a particularly long and stressful day, your hands seem to work on their own to turn the wheel and the next thing you know you’re slurping down chocolate Blizzard bliss.

Psychologists call this kind of stress-induced loss of willpower “ego depletion.”

“Ego” is what gives us the ability to control our behavior. To psychologists, ego is not about being conceited or thinking highly of yourself. Ego is really about your perception of yourself, who you are as a person.  Your sense of self-control. According to psychologists, maintaining self-control requires resources that exist in limited supply and can be depleted.

Excerpt from Ego Depletion and the Strength Model of Self-Control: A Meta-Analysis

There is a physical basis for willpower lapses

Willpower requires mental work. Mental work, like all work, demands energy. If you have a damaged metabolism, your whole body requires more sugar (for reasons explained in The FATBURN Fix). And that leaves less sugar in the system for your brain. When brain cells don’t get enough sugar, your brain’s ability to do mental work declines.

Roy F. Baumeister, Ph.D., a social psychologist at Florida State University, says “I discovered the role of glucose in self-control, more or less by accident. While testing a different theory, we stumbled on the finding that people who got some food showed improvements in self-control afterward — regardless of whether they had enjoyed the food. This led us into several years of work aimed at finding out how glucose is related to self-control.”

In recent years, some aspects of Baumeister’s Ego Depletion theory have been questioned, but the energy basis of mental work is based on 100 years of science. Authors of a wonderfully detailed popular science summary make this conclusion on the topic: “Local, temporally limited depletion of glucose within specific brain regions that is caused by increased cognitive demand, and limits performance on tasks mediated by those regions is now well established as fact: this component of the glucose model should no longer be controversial, despite the critiques of this element of the model.”

What’s abundantly clear is that acts of self-control require brain activity, and the science consistently shows locally reduce blood glucose levels in the most active areas of the brain after sustained work.

In simple terms, glucose sugar is one of the main chemicals in the bloodstream that carries energy to the brain. In even simpler terms, glucose is fuel for the brain. Like anything that requires energy to function, the ability to work is impaired when energy declines.

What’s more, low levels of glucose predict poor performance on self-control tasks and tests. Replenishing glucose, even just with a glass of orange juice, consistently improves self-control performance.

But, if your weight problems stem from sugar addiction, obviously this puts you in a real bind. To improve your willpower you need more of the very thing you’re trying to avoid.

Ego depletion means your sugar addiction is not just about pleasure

Sweet taste is one of the most addicting experiences known to man. Studies in lab rats given the options of sucrose water or cocaine have revealed that the animals will work harder for the sweet reward than for the drug.

Most of the psychologists who help folks with weight loss are well aware of this hedonistic challenge. But if low brain energy depletes willpower, this means in choosing to cut down sugar you’re fighting two battles at once.

I had a terrific sugar addiction. I used to run ten miles a day just so I could sit down to an entire 1 pound bag of peanut M&Ms reward. Then, I discovered Starbucks. My whole day soon revolved around arranging some kind of rendezvous with a mocha Frappuccino. I was so hooked that, while stationed in Jamestown North Dakota, I have to drive 100 miles each way to the nearest Starbucks once a week. On one occasion I got there moments too late, the person in front of me in line ordered the last of the mocha mix, and my whole week was ruined.

I never in my life thought I’d get over sugar. Especially not chocolate. But after I discovered how toxic seed oils are to the human body and started including an abundance of healthy whole food-based fats, I was shocked at how easy it was to get sugary treats out of my life.

How did I do it?

The Answer is Metabolic Flexibility

The job of your metabolism is to provide cells with energy. To do its job, your metabolism must be flexible and healthy.

Metabolic flexibility takes away the struggle to curb your cravings. It naturally boosts your willpower to such an extent that many people have told me the snack attacks that used to sabotage all their efforts just evaporated, as did mine. But because most of us are eating seed oils, most people lack metabolic flexibility. And without metabolic flexibility, any weight loss program becomes an exercise in self-sabotage.

What does metabolic flexibility do? It helps you access the energy stored in your body fat. In other words, it helps you burn fat for fuel.

You may be on a keto diet, which helps with burning dietary fat for fuel, but that does not mean you have metabolic flexibility. If you can’t burn your body fat, even if you do burn dietary fat, you’ll still experience cravings for snacks and find it difficult to cut calories, especially when mentally or emotionally stressed and “ego depleted.”

To achieve metabolic flexibility, your body fat must be cleaned of the high-PUFA seed oils that damage your metabolism. Once that happens, you will once again gain access to the energy stored in your body fat, enabling your body fat to work for you by sending your body’s cells the clean-burning energy that naturally suppresses hunger. Even better, the energy you get from healthy body fat supports brain function, enabling you to develop new habits necessary to effortlessly stick to a new way of eating once and for all.

To help you on your way and give you a leg up, I’ve created this handy quiz and worksheet for you. The worksheet can help you to find out how flexible your metabolism is.

To see the peer-reviewed science behind the seed oil/metabolic sugar connection visit 

Related: University of Guelph researcher Prof. Francesco Leri decides “Being hangry isn’t a made-up term…I was skeptical when people would tell me that they get grouchy if they don’t eat, but now I believe it. Hypoglycemia is a strong physiological and psychological stressor.”

With over two decades of clinical experience and expertise in genetic and biochemical research, Dr. Cate can help you to reverse metabolic disease and reshape your body.

Please note: Please do not share personal medical information in a comment on our posts. It will be deleted due to HIPAA regulations.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Hi Vern,
    I followed all of Dr. Cate’s suggestions and had elevated blood pressure. 6 months later, i’m off my meds for hypertension. Yes, it will help if you eat well, exercise as she suggests.

  2. Hi Dr. Cate. I have a milk question. In your book, you explain the great benefits of raw milk. If the only time I drink milk is steamed in my morning coffee, does it matter if it is raw or pasteurized since I heat it to almost boiling temps anyway? Also, Im hearing some not great things about cocoanut oil being not great because if sugar content?

    1. Each time you heat, you lose some nutrition. But for your purposes what matters most is grass fed.

      Coconut oil has zero sugar, so I’mt hinking coconut water must be what you’re reading about. 🙂

  3. Thanks Dr Cate! I am getting cravings for soda and right now I am working way too much and not eating well because of it. I am looking forward to cleaning out high-PUFA seed oils. My question is, will doing this also help with elevated blood pressure?

  4. Hello Dr. Cate, I recently read The Fatburn Fix and you don’t really mention children or pregnant women. Would you give any different advice to a pregnant woman regarding her diet during pregnancy, from what you write in The Fatburn Fix? And are there formulas and baby-specific foods to stay away from or to seek?

    Thank you

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