Do you know what organ we completely over-look in weight loss? I’ll give you three hints:
- It’s an organ you can’t live without
- It’s an organ that can be manipulated and changed
- It’s an organ that’s responsible for controlling voluntary and involuntary functions within your body.
Did you guess?
I spent a long time studying metabolism in graduate school because I had an insatiable desire to understand why we get fat. I wondered why our bodies grow, change and age the way they do. After a couple of years of studying food intake, food quality, and metabolic pathways, it became undeniably evident that the brain is the organ we need to be looking at when it comes to body fat regulation and food intake. It makes sense right? Since the brain is the source of all behaviors, including what you choose to eat, how much to eat, how much you move and exercise, then we should start with the brain to change our mindset and ultimately control weight loss. The brain also regulates our physiology which means it directs what organs get which nutrients, what’s going in and out of your liver, what gets digested and what gets excreted.
Work with Your Brain
So how do we work WITH our brain to lose weight? We focus on these four areas to impact our success.
1. Avoid foods with high caloric density.
2. Avoid high reward foods
4. Control your environment
How Do You Avoid Foods with a High Caloric Density?
Caloric density is the number of calories per unit weight of food. A better way for you to think about it is “calories per bite.” Example: a bite of an apple is less calorically dense than a bite of pizza. Your stomach has sensors in it that detect the volume of food that you’ve eaten. They send a signal to your brain that says “You are physically full so stop eating.” Let’s use the same example while keeping calories consistent. You eat a big apple – the ones about the size of a softball. Your stomach tells your brain that you are full and can’t fit more. It’s worth 110 calories, and you feel satiated for the time being. For the same 110 calories, you consume five bites of a piece of pizza. Your receptors don’t get activated because it’s such a small amount of food, so you continue eating until those receptors do go off. They don’t go off until you finish four pieces of pizza and by then you’ve consumed 795 calories. “Yeah Jen, I hear you, but have you met me? Ain’t no apple big enough to keep me full for longer than a big pizza”. I do hear you, but in that statement, you’ve already convinced yourself (before you even start) that you will fail because apples are not as delicious as pizza. The other thing about calorically dense foods (pizza/ice cream) is they contain the perfect chemical mix of sugar, fat, and salt to feed the reward center in your brain and cause you to desire more.