`Knowing your weaknesses is key to weight loss`

Last Updated: Aug 28, 2011, 18:09 PM IST

London: Struggling to shed those extra kilos even after following a strict diet regime? Then, you should pay a bit more attention to your own personality type, a top neuroscientist has claimed.

According to Dr Daniel Amen, a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, trying diet plans may be a waste of time and energy as they will never work unless the person is genetically capable of sticking to them.

So instead of heading straight to the gym, Dr Amen said, slimmers should start with an exercise in self-awareness --identifying their weaknesses and working out what makes them want to eat, the Daily Mail reported.

In a new book published in the US, Dr Amen defines five categories of overeater: compulsive overeaters, impulsive overeaters, compulsive-impulsive overeaters, sad or emotional overeaters and anxious overeaters.

He goes on to argue that his research shows each group must avoid certain foods -- and eat more of others -- in order to lose weight.
He writes: "We looked at the brains of our overweight patients and discovered there was not one brain pattern associated with being overweight: there were at least five different types.

"This is exactly the reason why most diets don?t work. They take a one-size-fits-all approach."

Compulsive eaters, according to him, "tend to get stuck on thoughts of food". For them, high-protein diets could be unhelpful, because these foods are thought to increase focus-- which compulsive types already have plenty of.

Instead, the neuroscientist said, they eat more complexb carbohydrates, which help the body produce more serotonin, improving mood.

But serotonin-boosting carbohydrates are disastrous for impulsive sorts as they simply lower their control further, Dr Amen said.

Instead, these types should eat foods such as chicken and oats, which raise levels of dopamine in the brain and boost concentration, he pointed out.

Compulsive-impulsive eaters, he suggested, should focus on exercise, while emotional types should increase the amounts of omega-3 fatty acids they consume, which help calm the body by reducing inflammation.

Similarly, anxious overeaters, who use food "to medicate their feelings of tension, nervousness and fear", should avoid alcohol and caffeine and choose a diet high in the amino acid glutamine, which is in lentils, broccoli and nuts, he said.

Dr Amen`s claims have, however, been met with scepticism.

Dietician Evelyn Toner said: "I agree that a lot of problems with weight are down to personality. There are comfort eaters, bingers or, on the other hand, people who turn away from food completely when they are stressed.

"But it is about changing behaviour and habits rather than specific foods... a binge eater will overeat no matter what food it is."

PTI