Health & Wellness

Why Won’t Your Brain Let You Diet?


From counting calories to cutting out carbs, there are many different ways people torture themselves trying to lose weight. Regardless of the specific parameters of a diet, there is one thing that all diet programs have in common: Your brain will resist them.

The pattern is always the same; the first few days of a diet seem effortless and you feel empowered with more energy and seemingly endless motivation. As you continue to follow the program, however, the urge to snack takes over, and you feel a persistent urge to binge eat. Many people will complain about dieting, stating that dieting makes them feel hungry all the time. Research has shown that there are some evolutionary traits that may drive this hunger and keep dieters from achieving their weight loss goals.

AGRP Neurons and Hunger

There is a specific class of neurons found in animal brains that motivate eating by causing the discomfort of hunger. The problem with these neurons is that they drive animals to eat even when they are not truly hungry. When you are following a diet that restricts what and when you eat, frustration may arise as you continue to battle neuron signals telling you to snack.

The Constant Urge to Snack

The second half of the snacking equation is the positive sensation that arises when you shut off AGRP neurons by eating. Essentially, your brain tricks you into eating by boosting your mood when you eat more than you should. Unfortunately, this improvement in your mood can be quickly destroyed by the disappointment of another failed diet.

Solutions on the Horizon

Understanding the mechanisms that cause us to eat is integral in finding effective solutions for the widespread problem of obesity. In lab mice, genetic alterations can turn off hunger switches, reducing the urge to eat.

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While genetic modifications in people are not an ideal solution, these techniques used in mice may be a window to drugs that can achieve similar results for humans in the future. In the meantime, you may find the most success in dieting with an array of healthier snacks that you can turn to when you feel the discomfort of hunger.

If you are considering starting a weight loss program, consulting a physician beforehand can help promote the best results. With MeMD on your side, you don’t even have to wait to schedule a physician consultation to begin tackling your weight loss goals.

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