The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat

Category: Medicine
Author: Stephan J. Guyenet Ph.D.
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by matthewdgreen   2021-02-15
You should read "The Hungry Brain" [0]. It's by a neuroscientist, who explains the deep ways that the appetite mechanism is wired into just about every area of our brain, making "willpower" very hard to sustain. As just one example, prisoners placed on a forced starvation diet became obsessed with cooking implements. It also provides strong evidence that physiological mechanisms (not conscious choices) are behind appetite differences and fat mass variations in the population.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Hungry-Brain-Outsmarting-Instincts-Ov...

by xwvvvvwx   2019-01-26
Ditto for the obesity crisis - the solution isn't to make less caloric foods, it's to change the culture of excessive portion sizes and sedentary lifestyles.

Agree that our sedentary lifestyles are a significant contributing factor to obesity, but you have it backwards about portion sizes.

Calorie dense (palatable) foods trigger our the reward centers in our brain more than non-palatable foods, and actually make us more hungry. This is an evolved survival strategy.

If you look at hunter gatherer diets, they will eat huge portions of extremely high calorie foods when they are available (e.g. drinking whole glasses of honey). They don't put on a lot of weight because they are more active, and don't have daily access to high calorie foods.

This means that large portions (and by extension obesity) are caused by the easy availability and low cost of high calorie foods. Telling people to eat less doesn't work because the systems that trigger hunger and fat retention work at a subconscious level and are in general more powerful than the conscious mind. The food environment that we have built up around us is a bad one for human beings.

If you want to learn more about how our hunger and fat regulation systems work then I can highly recommend "The Hungry Brain" by Stephan Guyenet [1].

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/Hungry-Brain-Outsmarting-Instincts-Ov...