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Dr. Ann de Wees Allen®
APRIL 6, 2012


Q. What is the Cephalic Response? Is it true that your pancreas starts pumping out insulin as soon as your mouth tastes anything sweet?

A. If you want high muscle mass and low body fat, then you need to understand the Cephalic Response.

Why should you care about the Cephalic Response?

Because, despite your all-out attempts to lean out, the Cephalic Response can derail your diet and your muscle-to-fat ratios by increasing adipose tissue body fat and preventing you from developing a rock-hard body, especially abs.

If you are not getting the results you want from diet and exercise, then the Cephalic Response could be responsible.

Aside from blocking your ability to lose excess body fat, triggering the Cephalic Response adds water-weight, giving you that puffy look (edema) which prevents the development of a six-or-eight pack.


For as long as humans have lived on Earth, they have been eating foods that taste sweet, such as sugar cane and honey. So, the brain has a conditioned response in reaction to eating something sweet.

It is called the Cephalic Phase Insulin Response (CPIR), and it's responsible for the fat-storing effects of diet beverages, including diet sodas, diet tea, coffee, energy drinks, sports drinks, flavored waters, sweeteners, and especially sports products that don't contain carbohydrates or calories (0-carbs or 0-calories).

What makes this response really interesting is the fact that the human body can instigate obesity in response to a feeding - without ingesting any calories or carbs whatsoever.


Classic articles by Fischer et al. (1974) and Strubbe and Steffens (1975) described an early phase of insulin release in which insulin levels start to rise in the first minute after the start of a carbohydrate-rich meal. The glucose level does not begin to rise until the third minute.

But the surprise is that the "Cephalic" or early response is seen whether there is any actually carbohydrate, or even any calories at all, in the ingested meal or drink.

The result is stimulation of insulin release which is extremely negative to the body (this is not an insulin release that builds muscle).

Subsequent studies have demonstrated that this early or "Cephalic" response can occur in response to the sight or smell of food, in addition to stimulation of the taste buds. That's where the sweetness of a food, beverage, or sweetener comes in, such as diet drinks.

Consuming diet drinks can trigger the Cephalic response, and yet, they contain no carbs or calories, and that turns out to be a bad thing if you are trying to get in shape and to avoid blood glucose excursions (which can exacerbate diabetes and obesity).


The pancreatic hormones insulin and glucagons function primarily to regulate glucose homeostasis.
A secondary role is that of signaling energy intake to the central nervous system, as the beta cells in the pancreas release these hormones in response to feeding.
Because basal insulin levels rise in relation to adiposity, circulating insulin levels also serve as a measure of energy stores.
While elevated insulin levels in the brain may cause a decrease in food intake, the action of insulin peripherally is to lower circulating blood glucose levels and serve as a stimulus for food consumption.
Once carbohydrates are consumed, insulin functions to store excess energy in the form of fat.
Thus, the Cephalic response of insulin secretion serves to exacerbate obesity by both increasing appetite and by enhancing fat storage.


There is an evolutionary adaptation in humans involving the reaction to the ingestion of sweet-tasting foods. The body learned to associate sweet-taste on the tongue with the resulting sugar-energy-load that landed in the stomach. The brain came to perceive sweet-taste with the need to program the liver to prepare for the arrival of an outside source of high energy – sugar/carbs.

As the tongue senses something sweet, it programs the brain to set into motion a series of biochemical events. It doesn't matter if the sweet taste comes from natural honey or from artificial sweeteners.

This biochemical cascade triggers the liver to stop the manufacture of protein and starch from its body-reserves, and to begin to store the glucose-energy that circulates in the blood.

In the case of diet beverages, the sweet taste sets these events into motion.

But when no calories actually appear in the stomach, this causes the body to demand real food, with resulting hyper-urges from the liver to overeat, or to drink more of the sweet-tasting liquid, and the cascade repeats itself.

Almost instantly, the body starts producing insulin, the "fat" hormone, which stores sugar in the blood stream, and programs the adipose tissue fat cells (belly fat) to store, store, store.

This Cephalic Phase Insulin Response (CPIR) creates reactive hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which further triggers strong cravings for more sweet-tasting items, such as high glycemic foods.

After the taste buds are activated by a sweet-taste, the urge to ingest food can last from 1 to 2 hours. So, you are hungry for hours, because no real food or calories has satiated the body's need for energy.

And now, the body is producing insulin for no reason, because the brain has instructed the liver to store instead of burn/release its storage supplies.

The result is fat, fat, fatter - the Cephalic Fat Spiral.


If you want to control and program what your body looks like and how it performs, then you have to integrate the two systems that oversee those functions. Those two systems are:

  • Food & Drink – Nutrient Ingestion:
    Metabolic Response/Glycemic Response
  • Cephalic Response:

Integration of Nutrient Ingestion/Glycemic Index and Brain Glycemic Indexing (Cephalic Response) is mandatory in creating the body that you desire.

You cannot separate the brain's response (Cephalic) from the metabolic response that results from eating and digesting foods, beverages, and nutrients (such as Nutraceuticals, vitamins, minerals, and supplements).

Even chewing gum has an effect on the body, depending on the ingredients in the gum. You do not have to swallow a food or beverage for it to impact the body.

Controlling the Cephalic Response (and avoiding the negative consequences) requires Decoding the Body's Language.


To achieve maximum performance and/or the ultimate muscular body with low body fat you have to know how to what to eat and drink.

Your body is just waiting for you to tell it what to do. This begins when you wake up and lasts until you go to sleep (to be perfectly accurate, the Delta sleep cycle).

There is no way to know what you should eat or drink to achieve great results without knowing the effect that specific foods and beverages have on your body.

Garbage in-garbage out has gotten a lot more complicated as we understand more about how the human body functions.

You cannot create the body you want without first understanding the body's own language. Elephants don't eat the same foods that lions do, but they are hard-wired to seek and eat specific foods.

Humans have all manner of foods and beverages thrust upon them via fast food and TV commercials – and they all look good to us. But the metabolic response of those foods and beverages are dismal and currently contribute to weight gain, Insulin Resistance, obesity, and diabetes.

Obviously standard dieting and diet advice has failed miserably – we are an obese nation – and getting fatter every day. The smarter we get, the fatter we get – How's that workin' for you?

The human body and brain do not speak English, Spanish, French, or any other verbal language. The human body speaks the language of evolution. Our bodies are out of control because we are not communicating with them.

In order to get the human body to do what we want it to – especially if the goal is maximum lean muscle mass and lower body fat - the correct message to the body is:

"I want to be muscular and strong – no excess body fat – no fatty lumpkins – no diabetes – as healthy as I can be – with a rockin body – oh yea – that's the ticket"

In order to effectively deliver that message to the body, we have to speak to it in a language it understands. That language has to be based on Nutrient Ingestion/Glycemic Index and Brain Glycemic Indexing (Cephalic Response).


So let's say that your goal is to create a muscular rock-hard body, then you would want to eat foods that do not shunt into adipose tissue fat cells. Avoiding Cephalic and High Glycemic foods is key in building rock-hard bodies.

So, you would need to know which foods/drinks/protein shakes elevate blood glucose and insulin levels and stimulate Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL is the Gatekeeper for Fat-Storage into the Fat Cells). LPL preferentially shunts calories into fat cells.

EXAMPLE: A banana is a natural food and has a good amount of potassium – but is also carries the message "Make Me Fat" – we cannot remake a banana, but why not eat fruit that does not carry the message of fatso-coding and is equally as healthy, such as blueberries, strawberries, and other berry fruits.

High glycemic and carbs, foods and beverages, as well as many protein shakes, carry negative coding due to their Glycemic and Cephalic Responses. The key is to avoid those foods and beverages.


How many calories can you consume per day? That depends on how many calories you are burning per 24-hours. A lot more lean muscle building calories can be consumed if they are Non-Cephalic and Low Glycemic.

Mesomorphs and Ectomorphs can eat more calories than Endomorphs – and that' purely genetic. But if the Endomorph leans out, and does aerobic exercise, and builds muscle, he can eat more calories and still stay slim.

Our athletes consume from 2,500 calories per day to 10,000 calories per day, depending on their ability to burn off those calories (via genetics and diet and exercise).

When I did a TV show with The Hulk (Lou Ferrigno), he had 2 percent body fat – and he had some serious muscle mass, while consuming a boat-load of calories. Muscle burns fat even while you are sleeping. Ferrigno is a Mesomorph.

Tell me what you are burning in a 24-hour period, and I will tell you how many calories you can eat.


The Cephalic Response can derail your diet and your muscle-to-fat ratios by increasing adipose tissue body fat and preventing you from developing a rock-hard body, especially abs.



  1. So, first of all, to stop the Cephalic Fat-Storing Spiral, stop ingesting anything that triggers the Cephalic Response, which includes protein or protein drinks without carbs, diet drinks, flavored water and drinks that do not contain any carbs or calories, Maltodextrins, proteins without carbs, highly-sweet foods or beverages, etc.
  2. Do not pulverize (liquefy) fruits or vegetables – eat your fruits and veggies raw or steamed, and don't drink them as a liquid.
  3. Avoid rice or brown rice if you have higher body fat.
  4. Avoid cereal.
  5. Don't' eat raw eggs. Stop separating the white of the egg from the yellow – eat the whole egg (cooked).
  6. Avoid soy proteins.
  7. Never consume whey protein without carbs.
  8. Don't drink protein while you are working out or exercising for less than 2 hours, as you will switch the fuel source and blunt fat-burning. Wait until after the workout (of less than 2 hours) to consume protein.


  1. Switch from bananas and watermelon to the berry fruits. Don't eat or drink (other than water) anything – and especially not protein shakes - 1 ½ hours prior to sleep. Drinking protein prior to sleep does not build more muscle.
  2. Eat cooked oatmeal (not instant).
  3. Switch from potatoes to sweet potatoes.
  4. Eat cooked salmon at least 3 times per week.
  5. Eat smaller meals throughout the day (250-500 calories each). We supply our athletes with a protein drink that contains 30 grams of elemental protein with the right amount of Low Glycemic carbs, and only 195 calories). They consume this throughout the day which builds muscle and not body fat.
  6. If you are an endurance athlete: Eat 55% carbohydrates, 30% Fat, and 15% protein.
  7. If you are a bodybuilder, power lifter, golfer, or non-endurance athlete, eat: 50% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 20% protein.
  8. If you are pre-diabetic, diabetic, are insulin resistant, or have excess body fat, eat: 40% carbohydrates, 30% Fat, and 30% protein (do not do this if you are an endurance athlete, as they require 55% carbs – this is not negotiable).
  9. Don't eat less than 1650 calories per day (males) and 1200 calories per day (female).
  10. The carbohydrates should be Low Glycemic.


Dr. Ann de Wees Allen®
Cephalic Response
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