Are you plagued with cravings for sweet, starchy, and fatty junk food, trying to summon enough willpower to avoid these foods, but somehow, within 30 minutes, devouring the exact foods you said you wouldn’t eat? Trust me. You are not alone. And your cravings are not your fault.
Women’s Voice is excited to have met and talked with Julia Ross, the director of a Virtual Clinic and Practitioner Training Program, who is also the author of three groundbreaking books: The Craving Cure, The Mood Cure, and The Diet Cure.
We were so impressed with her life’s work in addiction and neuro-nutrition that we asked her to share more with our readers about how amino acid supplementation can so quickly eliminate unhealthy cravings for sugar and other addictive food.
Where do these cravings come from, and why can’t we just turn them off? Solid evidence, first uncovered by addiction-focused neuroscientists in the 1970s and 1980s, attributes our overwhelming urges to the toxic effects of modern junk food on our brain’s appetite control chemistry. Some researchers also found that giving addicted subjects specific brain-targeted nutrient supplements significantly reduced their addictive urges.
Why eliminating junk food cravings is vital
Statistics show that most of the world’s population now experiences unprecedented obesity, stress, negative moods, and chronic illness brought on by our increasing consumption of the high-calorie processed foods that we now know are 60% nutrient-void and powerfully addictive. People who are obese are at an increased risk for some of the most severe consequences: high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart and liver disease, and diet-caused cancers. In North America, the obesity and type 2 diabetes statistics are staggering – both were declared epidemics by 2000 and over 40% of adults and 20% of teens are now afflicted.
Finding a way out
Despite the concerns that so many of us have about our diets, staying away from health-destructive foods has been a losing battle. Was it always this hard? No. Until the 1970s, we’d enjoyed healthy eating and optimal weight and mood for millennia. This was because we were still eating adequate amounts of traditional fats, protein, and carbohydrates.
Today’s mostly processed-food diet contains little protein and lots of the damaged and nutrient-void fats, sugars, and starches that intoxicate and addict the brain rather than nourish it. This leaves us helpless to protect ourselves and our children from the brutal course of addiction, in which our brain’s powerful appetite-regulating neurotransmitters start to work against us, forcing us to follow their unnatural and destructive dictates. Innumerable studies, complete with brain scans, have confirmed this. Nora Volkow, PhD, the neuroscientist chief of the National Institute on Drug Addiction, insists that our brain-generated cravings are the same whether the substances triggering them are processed sugars or illegal substances.
Like all other tissues in the human body, our brain’s appetite chemistry is dependent on specific nutrients that have been well-established. The problem is that food-addicted brains are depleted in these same vital nutrients. Yet neither vitamin, mineral, nor fatty acid supplementation has helped. Why not? Because the problem, hidden in plain sight, is amino acid deficiency.
We have almost completely overlooked the most potent nutrients of all when it comes to appetite control: the 20 amino acid powerhouses found in high-protein foods and as supplements. As I discovered, and as you’ll soon see, we only need a few of these amino heroes to completely restore our native ability to enjoy healthy food.
My 35-year journey and discovery of the appetite-correcting superpowers of five individual amino acids
As a licensed psychotherapist and an addiction and eating disorder specialist in San Francisco in the early 1980s, I was asked to create an outpatient treatment program for addicted adolescents and adults, and their families. This was a dream come true for me, and within two years, our program for pot-addicted adolescents had spread into three counties and had an 80% success rate! Our adult program, however, was a complete failure. That was because the crack cocaine epidemic had just hit, and all the addiction treatment programs in the country were experiencing the same 100% early dropout rates.
Fortunately, at around the same time, some of the addiction-focused neuroscientists mentioned earlier started reporting that brain-generated cravings could be reduced using a few specific amino acids taken as supplements. This opened up a whole new world by redefining what addiction actually was and pointing us toward exciting new solutions. My program had already been exploring the possibility that an improved diet and added vitamins and minerals might make a difference. But our crack-addicted clients rarely stayed around long, and those who did had ravenous cravings for junk food, gaining an average of 30 pounds in the first 30 days of recovery. Hoping to reduce their cravings for sugar as well as crack, we trialed the two suggested amino acids, which worked very effectively. Our first crack-addicted client reported being almost cravings-free during his first week on these aminos! We had equal success later using these and a few other amino acids with clients addicted to alcohol, marijuana, and methamphetamine. So did hundreds of other addiction and mental health professionals, who began to (and still do) enthusiastically recommend these amino acids to their clients.
Fast forward 30 years: mass junk food addiction and amino acids to the rescue
It’s apparent now that the world’s most widespread and deadly addiction is to sugars and other junk foods, which alter our brain’s pleasure chemistry and strip us of the nutrients we need to maintain a normal appetite for healthy food. In my virtual clinic, we have worked successfully with over 6,000 people who have been food cravers. To meet the massive modern food craving challenge, these clients have only needed 1–5 amino acids, taken as individual supplements. This simple regimen quickly corrects the primary deficiencies that propel most of their food cravings.
How individual amino acids worked for two of my clinic clients, Wendi and Don.
Wendi, a 50-year-old diabetic nurse, came to my clinic. She was 70 pounds overweight, with glucose levels over 200. Within two days of taking two capsules of a single amino acid three times per day between meals, she reported that her glucose levels had dropped under 100 for the first time in years because she had lost all cravings for high-carbohydrate junk food. Her equally carb-addicted and diabetic husband, Don, age 62, who also had prostate cancer, took two different amino acids three times per day and easily switched to a healthy diet. Within a few months, his glucose levels had dropped to under 100, and his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels went from 400 to less than 1.
Here’s how the aminos work:
- A very reliable “Craving Type Questionnaire” identifies which of the five amino acids are most likely to be needed by each craver. A mini version of this questionnaire (that you’ll find at the end of this article) includes the amino acids needed to correct each type of craving. You can find a longer version of the questionnaire along with an amino safety precautions checklist at my website JuliaRossCures.com in the questionnaire drop-down menu.
- Within five minutes of ingesting a single capsule of their first amino, our clients typically start feeling the positive effects. (You can watch recordings of volunteers experiencing this process on my YouTube channel.)
- Daily amino supplementation: Adults and teens typically need 1–3 aminos 2–3 times per day for several months. Children need fewer supplements at lower doses for much less time.
(I detail all of this in chapters 11 and 12 of my most recent book The Craving Cure.)
What about foods that are high in amino acids?
The word “protein” indicates that the amino acid content of any food constitutes its primary value. Animal protein sources are much higher in aminos than most plant sources. Because the aminos stop their junk food cravings so quickly, our clients almost immediately drop their junk foods and start eating and enjoying a totally healthy diet. Once the amino acid supplements have stocked up their appetite-regulating brain sites, high-protein foods alone, consumed three times per day, along with healthy fats and carbs, can keep their cravings at bay permanently – without the further use of amino supplements.
Why aren’t we more savvy about the benefits of protein and amino acids?
Many of us aren’t eating much protein, so we aren’t experiencing its benefits. And there’s surprisingly little information available about those benefits. For example, food labels are required to include the percentages of daily values for carbohydrates and fats but not for protein, as if protein has no value!
- From the point of view of junk food manufacturers, protein is expensive to add to processed foods, and it reduces cravings. Cheap carbs and fats, however, increase the desire to eat unhealthy food, which is just what these companies want us to do.
- Since the 1970s, we’ve avoided protein because we believed that saturated fat, which is usually combined with it in animal-derived foods, was unhealthy. But much research and the well-documented benefits of the keto diet have now proven otherwise. And yet many people are committed to a mass experiment with the typically low-protein, vegan diet. (Remember, we ate lots of animal protein and saturated fat daily for centuries, long before degenerative disease became a problem.)
Amino acid supplementation
Some of these products can be problematic. For example, some products are low in some amino acid contents (especially in hard-to-get, but essential, tryptophan levels). Because of this, people who are taking large amounts of low-tryptophan powders complain of depression. Compare the amino acid balance in your plant, collagen, or branched-chain product to the more complete amino profile of whey protein powders. Then, perhaps, consider at least adding a comparable amount of tryptophan, which protects us from depression, anxiety, and insomnia, as well as from afternoon and evening sweet and starch cravings.
Free-form amino supplements
are more potent than any bound, food-based, amino supplements. Most of the 20 individual amino acids are widely available in this “free” form, and their benefits are typically apparent very quickly.
What are the five individual anti-craving aminos?
Each amino acid has precise and potent effects on the brain and body, and when all 20 are combined in foods, their benefits are almost endless. Below are the specific individual aminos that help regulate our appetites, and as an added bonus, also regulate our moods. They do so mostly by converting directly into a few powerful brain neurotransmitters, as you’ll see.
Tryptophan or 5-HTP
These two similar amino acids can both reduce Type 1 cravings, namely depressed, anxious, and sleepless cravings. They both convert into the neurotransmitter serotonin, our vital appetite, mood, and sleep regulator.
Wendi (mentioned earlier) only needed to take glutamine, the amino acid that eliminates Type 2 or crashed cravings. Because she skipped meals and relied on short-acting sweets and starches, her blood glucose levels often dropped too low, which set off frantic hypoglycemic carb cravings several times per day. Her brain converted the glutamine into just enough glucose to turn off those cravings almost instantly. Providing emergency glucose to myriad cells in the brain and body is just one of glutamine’s extraordinary powers. It is also a tremendous gut healer (e.g., in Kaposi’s sarcoma) and is well-known to prevent muscle wasting in critical care patients.
Wendi’s husband, Don (also mentioned previously), was a Type 3 comfort craver. To stop his cravings for comfort foods like chocolate and ice cream, Don used the amino acid D-phenylalanine (DPA), which increases our levels of the comforting, pleasurable, pain-killing neurotransmitters called endorphins.
Don was also a Type 4 stressed craver. His cravings and stress had both increased considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic. To stop his stress cravings, Don took GABA, which is both an amino acid and a neurotransmitter that provides natural tranquility, relaxing our mind and our muscles by reducing adrenaline levels.
The last amino hero, used for fatigued Type 5 cravers, is tyrosine, which converts into several highly energizing neurotransmitters. It is also famous for promoting muscle coordination and mental focus. Tyrosine was the enlivening amino that had such amazing effects on my clinic’s exhausted crack addicts in 1986. People who crave energy from caffeine, chocolate, or sugar find tyrosine just as amazing.
I’ve just given you a lot of new information, I hope not too much. Even if you’re someone who doesn’t need it yourself, please pass it on to anyone you know who is struggling with what can often be unexplainable, shameful, and frightening compulsions. Alert them to the neurochemical nature of their cravings, and let them know that help is just a few nutrients away.
I wish all of you well in your personal exploration of what thousands of cravers I’ve worked with have universally called “the amazing aminos.”
Find the complete Craving Type Questionnaire and amino safety precautions at JuliaRossCures.com on the questionnaire drop-down menu, and send for a copy of my book, The Craving Cure. But right now, take the mini “Craving Type Questionnaire” on the next page to quickly see what type of craver you are.