Why Your Brain Might Be the Reason You Can’t Lose Weight
One of the things I’m seen for frequently is weight loss.
As many of you know, I’m not a weight loss expert. I’m not a fitness coach or a dietitian either.
Nor do I put myself out there and claim that I’m a physician focused exclusively on this aspect of health.
However, with 75 out of 100 Americans carrying around extra weight it’s inevitable that I’m going to hear patients ask me about the best ways to lose weight.
And considering how important it is for your total health to not be overweight, I actually do spend a fair amount of time researching medically sound ways to facilitate proper weight management for my patients.
When it comes to weight loss one thing I always stress is this: if you want to lose weight you don’t want to go on a diet.
You want to change how you eat entirely. Slowly, over time.
The main reason I stand by this admonition is simple. By altering what you eat you won’t just lose weight, you’ll simultaneously improve numerous other aspects of your health. And by making slow modifications to your dietary patterns you create a foundation for healthy eating habits that are almost guaranteed to produce results.
Diets are unsustainable and set people up for failure.
And recent research corroborates my feelings on this.
In a study published in The Journal Of Neuroscience researchers discovered a link between the anatomy of your brain and how differences in anatomy can set some people up for failure when it comes to dieting.
Most people look at diets as quick fixes for weight loss. They don’t approach them as a behavior modification objective.
And that makes getting the results they want to see all that much more difficult.
What Most People Don’t Realize Is Your Brain Is Plastic
Your brain is “plastic” in the sense that you can change how it behaves over time. By making small modifications in your behavior your mind will eventually change permanently.
But when you just throw yourself head long into a diet the brain hasn’t yet had time to adapt to this new behavior.
Which is why most diets fail completely.
The study I referenced above supports the notion that your brain’s anatomy will determine your success on a diet.
Hilke Plassmann, author of the study and the INSEAD Chaired Professor of Decision Neuroscience, along with her team, recently theorized that certain portions of the brain could be targeted for therapy in order to help treat a person for various eating disorders.
Their theory was simple. They believe the reason most people couldn’t stick to a diet, or eventually developed an eating disorder, was because the ability to exhibit self-control was compromised because gray matter in people’s brains remained undeveloped.
They theorized if this part of the brain was targeted with therapies or treatments people could reach dietary goals.
But, they had to first find out which part of the brain was responsible for self-control.
FYI” “Grey matter contains most of the brain's neuronal cell bodies. The grey matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control, and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control.”
MRIs Showed That This Part of the Brain Was Bigger In Healthier Eaters
To test their theory that certain parts of the brain helps control how people ate they analyzed the health of gray matter of 128 people using MRIs.
These subjects were presented with images of multiple food items. And once they saw the food, these subjects were asked to assign a value to the foods based entirely on the food’s tastiness or its healthfulness.
When they compared the imaging data against the choices the scientists found that the people who made the best choices when it came to food had more volume of gray matter in two locations of the brain; these locations were called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC).
They also had higher activity in those regions of the brain than those who made poor food choices.
The higher the activity in those sections of the brain the more likely it was the subjects were going to make healthful food choices too.
In a synopsis of the article Catharine Paddock PhD wrote:
“They say that their study is the first to show that differences in dlPFC and the vmPFC anatomy may influence people's choice of healthful foods. However, the findings do not suggest that people have to accept these conditions as fixed.”
As I mentioned earlier the brain has "plasticity."
And like plastic, your brain can be shaped and molded over time. Especially gray matter. Studies show you can grow and strengthen gray matter just like you would a muscle.
This is why I suggest slowly changing how you eat, instead of dieting. This will help you achieve weight loss goals.
Small, incremental changes to your eating habits, will over time, produce sustainable weight loss.
Of course there may be treatments available too. As Plassmann said, "In the future, we may be able to come up with brain-based interventions, so that you can change the gray matter density in these regions."
But I believe that’s putting the cart before the horse.
The journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step. And all it takes to lose weight are simple steps towards changed eating habits.
Want To Increase Gray Matter While Making Tasty and Healthy Food Choices?
If you want to eat healthier but not sacrifice taste might I suggest using our new Satiate Shake as a breakfast replacement.
This shake helps put your body in ketosis (the process where it burns fat for fuel) and because it’s keto-friendly it will control food cravings so you can eat well and grow the gray matter in your brain so in the future you’ll make better food choices.
With a balanced ratio of fat, protein and carbs it can help you lose weight while keeping your appetite under control.
Plus, it tastes amazing. A wonderful, creamy vanilla flavor will make this one of your favorite foods you own.