This Is Why You’re Not Losing Weight

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

At the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, we believe that you are in a war for the health of your body. The standard American diet we consume is making us sick, and it’s up to us to make the choices that keeps the fat off our bellies. In the third and final episode about loving your body, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen give you a weight loss program that actually gets results, and dramatically increases your health in the process.


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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD and addictions.

Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit

Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast.

Dr Daniel Amen: Love your body week. Now we're going to talk about obesity. This is so important, with 40% of Americans obese, 70% of Americans are overweight. I just think it's the biggest crisis that we have had in America. I published two studies that showed as your weight goes up, the size and function of the brain goes down. It's just the biggest brain drain. It's the whole reason why we call this podcast the Brain Warrior's Way.

Tana Amen: Right. I think it's really important as we go into this that we want ... because we've been talking about body shaming and a lot of things. We don't want you to body shame yourself. We don't want you to hate yourself. We are not doing this from a body shaming perspective. We always want you to focus on being the healthiest person you can be because you love yourself, you have a purpose on this planet, and you want to be your best so you can do that. This is not a shaming thing.

Dr Daniel Amen: I want you to have enough anxiety that you get serious about it. It's important. Now, being too thin is a problem.

Tana Amen: Yes.

Dr Daniel Amen: In fact as you age, just there's not that many obese people in their 80s and 90s. What really kills people in the elderly is frailty, right? You saw that as a nurse in the hospital.

Tana Amen: A lot. Yeah.

Dr Daniel Amen: But ...

Tana Amen: Not being able to recover.

Dr Daniel Amen: You're in a war for the health of your brain and your body. Tana and I talk about, in our course, the Brain Warrior's Way, that the real weapons of mass destruction are highly-processed pesticide-sprayed, high glycemic low fiber food-like substances stored in plastic containers, that our food industry has killed way more people than ISIS has thought about. We need to get serious. The idea behind the Brain Warrior's Way podcast is we want to help you be armed, prepared and aware to win the fight of your life. You know, you see commercials non-stop on TV for Jenny Craig and Nutrisystems and Weight Watchers. I think all of them sort of miss the boat. You just have to get the packages and read the labels for the packages, and they're loaded with pro-inflammatory ingredients.

Tana Amen: Which will ultimately make it worse.

Dr Daniel Amen: Which will ultimately make it worse. Plus, I think you taught me that if you keep the yo yo dieting thing, you're actually decreasing the set point of calories in your body so that you can just be eating 800 calories a day and still not ...

Tana Amen: Yeah. You end up trashing your metabolism.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... be metabolizing things like you want. In this podcast what we want to do is really go over what are the rules of brain healthy eating, and also talk a little bit about the types.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr Daniel Amen: I think that's one of the unique things I've contributed to the world of over-eating, is ...

Tana Amen: Everyone's not the same.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... everybody's not the same.

Tana Amen: Right. What motivates them isn't the same, or drives them.

Dr Daniel Amen: Well, we have impulsive overeaters. It's really our attention deficit disorder group. They have low frontal lobe activity and they don't think about food all the time, but as soon say they pass a Jack in the Box, they're like, "Oh, I've got to get this or that sandwich, or this or that shake," or whatever. They don't have good impulse control. Fixing their ADD makes a huge positive difference for them. There are compulsive people where they have that little mouse on an exercise wheel in their head and they can't get off and they get the same thought over and over again. They walk by the refrigerator and the ice cream's screaming at them.

Tana Amen: They go sit down and they're like, "I'm not going to do it." They go to sit down and they're doing something else, but in the back of their head it's just like constantly repeating.

Dr Daniel Amen: Right. Then there's impulsive/compulsive people, that they have traits of both. Then there are the sad overeaters and the anxious overeaters. You want to know what your brain type is. You can go to our free brain health assessment at, and it will tell you what brain type you are. Then there are supplements and behavioral exercises for each type. Ultimately to get your weight under control, you one, have to care about your brain. You just have to like, go, "I am not going to ..." That's how I lost the weight. I mean like you said before ...

Tana Amen: Yeah. I want to talk about that for a minute, because you know, we don't want people to think, oh, we're just perfect and we've got all the answers. When I met you, you were frustrated. Talk to them about that a little bit.

Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah. I mean ...

Tana Amen: Genetically ...

Dr Daniel Amen: I hadn't published a study yet.

Tana Amen: You also have genetics that set you up.

Dr Daniel Amen: My genetics say I should be fat. My dad's overweight, was overweight. My brother is morbidly obese. I have a sister who's morbidly obese. These genes run in families. I mean the most I've ever been overweight is about 30 pounds, but I'm like, "Why am I fighting this?"

Tana Amen: 30 pounds on your frame is significant. I mean it's uncomfortable.

Dr Daniel Amen: I mean it's like why am I fighting this all the time? It's just irritating. When I published those two studies that showed as your weight went up the size of your brain went down, I'm like, "Oh no. That's it."

Tana Amen: The first thing you did is make sure you're ... because you said when you started taking vitamin D, it actually helped.

Dr Daniel Amen: My appetite went away.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr Daniel Amen: I checked vitamin D, healthy level is 30 to 100. Mine was 17.

Tana Amen: And some healthy nutrients really helped.

Dr Daniel Amen: Taking vitamin D really helped. Being married to you really helps because we both have the same-

Tana Amen: Yeah. The same mission and the same goals.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... values around food. We're not perfect.

Tana Amen: No.

Dr Daniel Amen: But we're really good.

Tana Amen: We don't try to be perfect. We focus on what's important to us.

Dr Daniel Amen: Being healthy is really important. Over the years, together, we've developed our food rules, which is number one, it's really high quality food. I think calories really do matter. Calories are like money, but the quality of your calories matters more.

Tana Amen: Yes.

Dr Daniel Amen: Right? You can go on an 800 calorie a day Twinkie diet and you will lose weight, but you'll be inflamed, you'll be sick.

Tana Amen: And you'll start to gain it back.

Dr Daniel Amen: It's not right.

Tana Amen: Once the inflammation creeps up to a certain point, you begin, your metabolism, your hormones get out of balance and you start to put weight back on.

Dr Daniel Amen: If you chronically have problems with your weight, I know for me, when I gain give pounds, actually for me it's three.

Tana Amen: Me too. My window is three.

Dr Daniel Amen: It irritates me. On my phone I actually start counting my calories. I know exactly how much I have in the morning. I know the calories in the almond milk cappuccino I make for Tana every morning. You now, I don't like overspending. Even though we have plenty of money, when I'm at home and I see lights on, it just irritates me. I hate wasting money. I hate wasting calories because I know they're the currency my body uses to live and to be healthy, and I'm not going to overspend. That's principle number one.

Tana Amen: I want to point something out. I've helped a lot of people through this process, because based on what you just said, I've helped people lose more than 100 pounds doing this. They all acknowledge the same thing. I always tell people going in, they don't believe me, but it ends up being true and they love it. When you eat the way we're trying to teach you to eat, like in the Brain Warrior's Way, or the Brain Warrior's Way cookbook, it's our principles for the clinic. You get to eat more, okay, because that 800 calorie Twinkie diet is messing up your metabolism. It's making you hungrier. You're going to be inflamed and you're going to gain weight. When you eat really healthy, you actually will feel satisfied. You get to eat more and be healthy, but you won't be as hungry. That's the thing.

Dr Daniel Amen: That's true, but you can't be dumb.

Tana Amen: No, no, no. When I say more, I'm not talking about 4,000 calories. 800, though, is not healthy. That's my point. You get to eat a normal amount of calories. You'll feel satisfied and full, and you won't feel the need to go gorge on food once we get your hormones straightened out.

Dr Daniel Amen: The second principle is you want to drink lots of water because when you're dehydrated, to show the Bill Phillips' scam, when Bill Phillips, famous body builder, came to see us, he purposely dehydrated himself for a photo shoot, and his brain just looked terrible.

Tana Amen: There's a lot of studies ...

Dr Daniel Amen: You need to hydrate yourself because your judgment will be better. Drinking water throughout the day can be really helpful. I don't really like drinking water, so I created something for Brain MD called Brain Boost on the go. It tastes awesome. It's good for you. It encourages me to drink water.

Tana Amen: Two really important points that I want to make, that sort of solidifies it for people, because I know I used to hear, "Drink water. Drink water. It's good for you." I'm like, "Yeah. So what?" It was sort of abstract. This made a difference for me. One study showed that when you are hydrated, because I work out, so when you are hydrated, you are 19% more powerful. You are 19% stronger and more powerful. That's huge. That was one. I'm like, "Wow, that means I'm 19% less strong when I'm dehydrated." That was one. I like being strong. The second one was a study done on pilots. When they were only 2% dehydrated, just 2%, their cognitive functioning was greatly affected.

Dr Daniel Amen: You want to give the pilot water as you get on the plane.

Tana Amen: Yes.

Dr Daniel Amen: Go "Here, have an extra one. Drink up!" The third principle is high quality protein at every meal, because protein helps to balance your blood sugar.

Tana Amen: This means even is you are a vegan, you need to have high quality plant-based protein if you're vegan.

Dr Daniel Amen: Protein is in vegetables, right? It's in spinach, in broccoli.

Tana Amen: You just have to eat a lot more of it, but that's okay because it's not high calorie.

Dr Daniel Amen: When we say high quality protein, we generally mean hormone free, antibiotic free.

Tana Amen: Antibiotic free. Free range.

Dr Daniel Amen: Free range, if you can afford it.

Tana Amen: We want you eating less of it anyways. We want you to eat more of a plant-based diet. We don't want 50% of your diet to be processed meats. That's just not healthy. I don't care how you look at it. We'd rather you cut back to a smaller percentage of really high quality protein and increase the plants.

Dr Daniel Amen: You're saying it's the same cost.

Tana Amen: Yes.

Dr Daniel Amen: If you eat half the amount, but it's twice the cost, it's the same cost.

Tana Amen: Cut out a Starbucks and see what happens. I did the math with my daughter. We were trying to budget. I'm like, "Do you realize that if you and I," because we're on the road a lot, so it gets really easy to stop at a Starbucks several times a day, get an iced tea, whatever, and I'm like, "Do you realize that if we give up one drink a day ..." We decided to do this together, made the decision to do this. One time a day we're going to not do that. We'll figure out another solution. We'll bring something or whatever. It's $300 a month between the two of us. One time a day for the two of us, for the month. $300. That's crazy. I can help you budget.

Dr Daniel Amen: Please do that. I would be so grateful.

Tana Amen: We did. We've been doing it.

Dr Daniel Amen: The fourth one is healthy fat. Neither of us are a fan of low fat diets because 60% of the solid weight of your brain is fat, so healthy fat, avocados, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables have healthy fat in them ...

Tana Amen: I have a really good story. Someone I was talking to up in LA recently, she recognizes. She's like, "Oh my gosh, I want to get your book." We started talking about food. Her husband had a widow maker heart attack and lived through it, which is just crazy. It's like a really big heart attack.

Dr Daniel Amen: I thought he was married to someone that was really ...

Tana Amen: Oh, stop it. Anyways, he survived it, so they put him on a really strict diet and he followed it because it was serious. He followed it, he lost a ton of weight, but he was eating zero oil. Zero fats and oils. His cholesterol got down to 110 and all of a sudden he not only felt frail, but he started to get depressed, like seriously depressed and anxious.

Dr Daniel Amen: And under 160 is associated with homicide, suicide, depression and death from other causes.

Tana Amen: I'm like, "You need to read our book."

Dr Daniel Amen: You need some. You definitely do.

Tana Amen: Not processed fat.

Dr Daniel Amen: Healthy fat. Fat was demonized in the late 70s and early 80s and it stayed that way, and the incidence of obesity just soared.

Tana Amen: They were trying to get rid of the unhealthy fats, and that you should do, but you should not get rid of ... they're called essential fatty acids for a reason. You need them.

Dr Daniel Amen: When we studied our patients at Amen Clinics, 98% of them were low in omega-3 fatty acids. It's just crazy. Then carbs are not enemy. Everybody's low carb, low carb, low carb. It's low bad carbs. Carbs are just filled with medicine, plant-based medicine, things called phytonutrients.

Tana Amen: They're like little anti-cancer agents.

Dr Daniel Amen: We really would prefer you to limit or eliminate sugar, bread, pasta, potatoes and rice because those quickly turn to sugar in your body, but really ramp up on colorful vegetables, low glycemic fruit, that means fruit that doesn't quickly raise your blood sugar, like dates are off the chart bad for you. When it comes to sugar, their sugar content's just so high. Then we want you to eat clean. Clean is important. Then use spices like medicine, like cayenne pepper increases blood flow to the brain, rosemary increases blood flow to the brain, tumeric has anti-inflammatory properties. Tana talks about all of this in the Brain Warrior's Way and the Brain Warrior's Way cookbook.

Tana Amen: Yeah. The cookbook is loaded with information.

Dr Daniel Amen: None of this is hard. Ultimately it's about love. Both Tana and I in the past, we've been in bad relationships. Thank God this has been the best 12 years of my life being with her. I'm damn sure not going to be in a bad relationship with food, something that I can control. I am not going to be in love with any food that does not love me back.

Tana Amen: Yeah. I have a funny story about this. After having surgery, I started to get a little wonky and get a little down because I'm used to pretty intense exercise and being busy. A few weeks after being down, I'm just like, "Okay. I'm done with this." I had brain fog, I didn't feel good and I was tired. I started to notice I was getting a little lazy with my diet. Now, for most people that would still look pretty clean, still gluten free or whatever, but I was being lazier, eating some gluten free bread and pastas and things like that.

My daughter walks in the kitchen one day and she goes, "You know, I have a goal for you." I'm like, "What's that?" She goes, "You have to live to be 100." I'm like, "What?" Somehow it was like a slap in the face for me. It really pointed out to me that I was being lazy. She goes, "Yeah. You have to take care of yourself because you have to live to be 100. I'm only going to be 65 then." I'm like, I was hoping not to get into that, but anyways it really was a slap in the face pointing out to me that it is easy to fall into that rut, but when all of a sudden my goal, the whole reason I do all this was put back in my face by her. It was like, "Why am I doing all this?"

Dr Daniel Amen: Why do you want to be healthy? Why do you want to be at a healthy weight? Why do you want to love your body and do the things for it as if you love it? For me, I love my wife. I'm madly in love with my wife. I love my children. I love my grand babies. I have a new grand baby.

Tana Amen: Ah, she's so cute.

Dr Daniel Amen: She's two weeks old.

Tana Amen: Oh, she's so cute.

Dr Daniel Amen: I love the mission we have at Brain MD and Amen Clinics. I mean I love my life.

Tana Amen: Yeah.

Dr Daniel Amen: I don't want to ... If you're not serious ... I had a friend recently who was 61 years old.

Tana Amen: Oh, so sad.

Dr Daniel Amen: Someone I just adored, and he had a massive heart attack and died. The heartbreak for me, much worse for his wife and his children and his 600 patients. It was because he wasn't as serious as he could have been.

Tana Amen: People get complacent. They think it's not really going to happen to them.

Dr Daniel Amen: They get in denial. We have so many tools for you. If you take our brain health assessment, your type, go to or In the upper right hand corner, know your type. There are supplements to help your type. Tana has cookbooks. We have Brain Fit Life.

Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way cookbook is great.

Dr Daniel Amen: All of her recipes are on You can also go to We have all sorts of recipes to help you get healthy, to have a better brain.

Tana Amen: And make it taste good. It doesn't have to be miserable.

Dr Daniel Amen: There is no suffering in getting well..

Tana Amen: Yeah.

Dr Daniel Amen: People often go, "Well, was it hard?" They'll go, "No. Being sick was hard."

Tana Amen: Right. They don't realize it until they start to feel really a lot better, and then they're like, "Wow. I didn't realize just ..." I mean you know you're miserable. Like Angie, who I helped, she knew she was miserable. She had suffered persecution from being overweight. I helped her lose 103 pounds. She kept it off, last I heard was three years and she was still doing great. She was suffering, but she didn't realize how much better she would feel physically. She thought it was going to be the psychological part she would feel better, but her ailments cleared up. She had energy. She felt so good, and she's like, "I didn't realize how bad I felt because I had never felt this good."

Dr Daniel Amen: Food is medicine or it's poison. Stay with us.

Dr Daniel Amen: Thank you for listening to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. Go to iTunes and leave a review, and you'll automatically be entered into a drawing to get a free signed copy of the Brain Warrior's Way and the Brain Warrior's Way cookbook we give away every month.