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Bethenny Frankel dishes weight loss tips: How junk food impacts your brain

Soda is like drinking sugar water, says an expert.
Soda is like drinking sugar water, says an expert.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Since her talk show originated, Bethenny Frankel has held diet debates with experts such as "The Biggest Loser" trainer Bob Harper and celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito. Now she's revealing how she helped a woman achieve her weight loss goals and shed 100 pounds on her Aug. 28 talk show.

"Diets don't work," says Bethenny. Instead, she believes it's all about changing your relationship with food. Learn to focus on portion control rather than on eliminating food groups, which she details in her book "Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting."

Using a psychological approach to weight loss, Bethenny also talks about "food noise," which is her term for viewing foods as good and bad. Replace those thoughts with a "food voice" that focuses on what your body needs.

Now a new study is showing that junk food can impact your ability to listen to your body. And that's a concern, because it also adversely affects the innate tendency to eat a balanced diet, reported Newsweek on Aug. 27.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales Australia discovered that the escalating rates of obesity may be linked to the increased consumption of tasty, nutritionally void foods such as those chocolate-covered, sugar-sprinkled frosting-filled Pop-Tarts. Lab animals given beverages and foods high in sugar responded as if they had not consumed those foods, indicating that their brain mechanisms that should signal "enough" had been switched off.

"Eating junk food seems to change the response to signals that are associated with food reward," summed up Prof. Margaret Morris, Head of Pharmacology from the UNSW Australia’s School of Medical Sciences and a study co-author. And it takes time for those signals to return to normal.

When scientists put the sugar-shocked lab animals back on their regime of healthy chow, they continued to stuff down too much food. "It suggests that whatever changes happen in the brain may persist for a while," said Morris.

And while high fat low carb diets have become more popular, the scientists did not investigate whether lab animals fed high fat diets without the added sugar would react in the same way. However, Dr. William Lagakos, author of "The poor, misunderstood calorie: calories proper," reports that a previous study showed that "rats fed high fat were far healthier than those fed high fat and high fructose."

Is sugar the catalyst to reactions such as overeating and craving more food? "Sugar makes everything bad happen," summed up Lagakos. And that's not the only problem with sugar.

He suggests paying attention to how much sugar you consume. As for the controversy over artificial or zero-calorie natural sweeteners? "39 grams of sugar is worse than 0.01 grams of stevia or sucralose. Anyone remember water?” he asks rhetorically in a reference to gulping down cans of sugar-sweetened soda versus diet soda versus plain, unadulterated water.

In other words: Don't drink the Kool-aid or Coke. Drink the water.

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