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Amen - the healthy way to lose fat

Sick of calorie counting? Tired of the gym?

If you're looking for a new approach to weight loss, there's a new diet book sweeping the States, which states that it's your personality -- and not your metabolism -- which is making you fat.

The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off, argues that a diet which works for your best friend won't work for you -- because weight gain, or loss, hinges on personality type and not diets.

"Our brains make us fat," says Dr Daniel Amen, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist, and author of the book. "It's your brain that tells you to stop eating when you've had enough -- or lets you dive into that second portion."

He says: "It's your brain that keeps you focused, motivated and successful -- or holds you back with anxiety issues."

The Amen Diet weight-loss programme is based on the idea that we fall into one of five personality types which affect what we should or shouldn't eat.

So which personality type are you? Take the quiz below and find out what the Amen Diet proposes you do to lose weight.

Are you a compulsive eater?

> Are you argumentative?

> Are you compulsive?

> Are you prone to drinking or eating to excess?

> Are you a grudge-bearer?

> Are you having trouble sleeping?

Analysis: Compulsive eaters have too much activity at the front part of their brains. This lowers serotonin -- and by increasing this feel-good-hormone you will increase your chances of gaining control of your eating.

Foods which work for compulsive eaters: Brown rice, salmon, bananas, and turkey. These foods provide high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid which can help us de-stress.

What doesn't work: High protein diets -- instead carbohydrates will help you with weight loss as they raise serotonin levels.

Are you an impulsive eater?

> Are you prone to eating when you're not hungry?

> Are you easily distracted?

> Are you disorganised?

> Are you prone to running late?

> Are you prone to starting diets and then giving up?

Analysis: Impulsive eaters have low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine -- research shows this may double your chances of being overweight. Low levels of dopamine can lower a person's control over their behaviour.

Foods which work for impulsive eaters: Steak, fish, chicken, turkey and eggs. High-protein foods work to boost dopamine levels in the brain, which helps self-control.

What doesn't work: High-carb or sugary diets. A rise in serotonin levels can make impulsive people indulge more.

Are you a compulsive-impulsive eater?

> Do you share characteristics from both the compulsive and impulsive eating lists?

> Do you think about food all day long?

Analysis: Compulsive-impulsive eaters may have addictive personalities in their family -- relatives who binge on food or drink excessively. They tend to be prone to negative thinking, and to suffer from low levels of dopamine and serotonin.

Foods which work for compulsive-impulsive eaters: A combination of the foods from both the compulsive and impulsive eating lists. Plus green tea to reduced cravings, and lots of exercise.

What doesn't work: Anything which increases impulses -- such as alcohol -- and makes you eat more, or leaves you tempted to eat junk food.

Are you an emotional eater?

> Do you feel anxious?

> Do you comfort-eat?

> Do you get bored easily?

> Do you feel lonely or have low self-esteem?

Analysis: Emotional eaters usually suffer from a lack of vitamin D. So increasing your vitamin D levels will improve your chances of losing weight.

Foods which work for emotional eaters: Eggs, mackerel, liver and walnuts will increase your vitamin D intake.

What doesn't work: Spending too much time alone, as this leads to feeling low and to comfort eating. Getting too little sleep -- make sure to unwind an hour before going to bed, to increase your chances of falling asleep when your head hits the pillow.

Are you an anxious eater?

> Do you suffer from muscle tension?

> Do you have regular headaches?

> Do you experience heart palpitations?

> Do you often feel uncomfortable or uneasy in social situations?

> Do you jump at the slightest noise?

Analysis: Anxious eaters often have increased activity in the basal ganglia -- the part of the brain associated with voluntary motor control, procedural learning relating to routine behaviours or "habits" and cognitive and emotional functions. This brain activity makes you more hyper than other personality types.

Foods which work for anxious eaters: Wholegrains, lentils, dairy products, citrus fruits, spinach, almonds and walnuts. Foods rich in amino acids can help calm the brain.

What doesn't work: Too much protein -- steak and red meat can stress out your digestive system.