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The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat

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From an obesity and neuroscience researcher with a knack for engaging, humorous storytelling, The Hungry Brain uses cutting-edge science to answer the questions: why do we overeat, and what can we do about it?

No one wants to overeat. And certainly no one wants to overeat for years, become overweight, and end up with a high risk of diabetes or heart disease--yet two thirds of Americans do precisely that. Even though we know better, we often eat too much. Why does our behavior betray our own intentions to be lean and healthy? The problem, argues obesity and neuroscience researcher Stephan J. Guyenet, is not necessarily a lack of willpower or an incorrect understanding of what to eat. Rather, our appetites and food choices are led astray by ancient, instinctive brain circuits that play by the rules of a survival game that no longer exists. And these circuits don’t care about how you look in a bathing suit next summer.

To make the case, The Hungry Brain takes readers on an eye-opening journey through cutting-edge neuroscience that has never before been available to a general audience. The Hungry Brain delivers profound insights into why the brain undermines our weight goals and transforms these insights into practical guidelines for eating well and staying slim. Along the way, it explores how the human brain works, revealing how this mysterious organ makes us who we are.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published February 7, 2017

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About the author

Stephan Guyenet

4 books37 followers

Stephan J. Guyenet, Ph.D. is an obesity researcher and health writer whose work ties together neuroscience, physiology, evolutionary biology, and nutrition to offer explanations and solutions for our global weight problem. He received a B.S. in biochemistry at the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in neurobiology at the University of Washington. He is the author of the popular health website, Whole Health Source, and is a frequent speaker on topics of obesity, metabolism, and nutrition.

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Profile Image for April.
328 reviews31 followers
May 11, 2017
4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 stars because I want so many people to read it: nutritionists, primary care doctors, people who want to lose weight, people who are prejudiced against people who are overweight, reporters, and many more!

The great: all the research that Guyenet carefully explains. You may have heard snippets of this information before, "Sleep deprivation makes it harder to lose weight!" "Stress increases belly fat!" But reading about it in some depth with all the pieces put together helped me really understand the importance of sleep, feeling in control rather than stressed and helpless, and so much more.

The iffy: Guyenet has been influenced by the paleo folks - when he strays from the research and shares his opinions that becomes clear and it made Guyenet a little less trustworthy for me, although I still thought the book was great. Instead, I wish he would have read about the Blue Zones - the places on earth where people live the longest, healthiest lives - and mused about those lifestyles before writing this book. Also, he is heavily in favor of eating meat (which most people in Blue Zones do- although they eat most of their calories from plants), but when talking about being lean, it seems unbalanced not mention that on average vegetarians are leaner than meat eaters and vegans are leaner still. Not to say I think he should be promoting any particular diet, but since he brought up Paleo, he should look at the big picture.


The main factors that contribute to weight are: genetics plus environment
1. Genetics. It really sucks for those of us who easily gain weight, but it turns out that genetics contribute up to 70% of how much someone weighs. So why didn't we see overweight people at other times in history? Because genetics only contribute to weight gain in certain environments - like our current calorie rich environment. (Genetics determines how susceptible we are to the following causes.)
2. How rewarding foods are. Our brain considers foods high in calories to be the most rewarding. When those foods are around, we tend to overeat them because our brain says, "Calories available! Time to EAT!)
3. How valuable foods are. The equation for food value looks something like this: Reward - Effort. We've already learned that high calories equals highly rewarding. The other part of the equation is how hard those foods are to get. To our brains, fast food is very valuable because it's a great deal - very high calorie food with very little effort

Our body wants to keep our weight the same. There are two systems that help it do that:

1. The lipostat which is based primarily in the hypothalamus. The lipostat has one job: to make sure you don't lose any of your valuable life saving, fertility ensuring fat. (This may seem strange to us now, but when we evolved all of these systems, calories were hard to come by so, fat = GOOD, HEALTHY, FERTILE.) The lipostat makes sure your energy systems stay in balance over time. So if you lower your calorie intake, it makes you want to move less and eat more. Ah, gee, thanks, Lipostat. Because of this, often the more weight people lose, the hungrier they get. Until eventually the can't fight their lipostat and their tremendous hunger any longer and they gain all that life saving (from the perspective of the lipostat) fat back, and maybe a little more. Lipostat for the win!
2. We also have a system that "regulates food intake on a meal-to-meal basis by making us feel full and reducing our drive to continue eating after we've had enough." This system is located primarily in the brain stem and gets it's information from the gut.

Recap: two systems that regulate how full you feel: the lipostat which is working to keep your energy intake and expenditure balance the same over time (ie keep the lovely fat on you) and the brain stem which regulates energy intake meal by meal.

This is where your genetics come in. Some people - given a high calorie environment - have a lipostat that says "Ohhhh calories! Let's get a lot of fat on this bod and keep it around. We will be the most fertile in all the land!" While some people's lipostats just say, "Meh. Clearly our genes survived for tens of thousands of years. We'll just keep doing what we been doing and stay lean."
As you can see, most people did evolve to take in more calories when calories are available.

What else influences how much we eat?
1. Sleep. When we don't get 7-9 (yes NINE for some people) hours of sleep a night, we eat about 300 calories more than we otherwise would. And remember, our lipostat wants to keep our levels about the same. So, except for the rare genetic freaks (and I say that lovingly), it's not going to want to lose that fat after it's gained it.
2. The threat response system. Guyenet describes this as "stress" and recommends lowering our stress. But in the research he shares, he shows that it's only uncontrollable stress that makes us overeat. I think a clearer way to describe this factor would be: status. In the research he shared, if we have low status and are being criticized and picked on without recourse, we feel stressed and eat more calories than we otherwise would. If we have a lot to do, but we can do it and we feel empowered, then we don't overeat even though we are also feeling "stress."
(Clearly we need an additional word because these are two very different states.)

To sum up so far:
It is how much we eat and how much we move that determines how fat or lean we are. There is not a big genetic difference in how our body processes calories. The big genetic difference is in how much our body wants to weigh. How fat we are is a combination of how much our body wants us to weigh PLUS our food and movement environment.

Can we lower our lipostat?
Yes. We just have to roll back the clock a hundred years or so and live like it's 1960 or much earlier, depending on your particular genetics.
1. Eat moderately palatable food. People who were given bland food and lost weight didn't get the starving response that people losing weight on highly palatable food got! This is great news! If it sounds like less fun, it is. But food doesn't have to taste bad, it just has to taste good instead of amazing. Eating whole, natural foods without added sugars, or oils, and very low salt can achieve this. (I've eaten this way for long stretches before and my cravings disappeared and I felt very peaceful, just like the people in one of the studies Guyenet shared.)
2. Exercise. For some people it lowers the weight set point - which again, means you're lipostat won't make you ravenously hungry when you lose some fat. In addition to formal exercise, find ways to move a little all day. Maybe get a treadmill desk or do like the genetically lean folks do and increase your fidgeting. :)
3. As much as you can, don't have high calorie, highly palatable (tasty) foods in your house. Make those foods a lower value by increasing the effort it takes to get to them.
4. Don't look at those foods. Don't have foods out on your counters. Don't watch food commercials on TV. Even seeing these foods can make your brain say, "I see lots of calories! TIME TO FEAST.)
5. Lower inflammation in the brain, so your brain systems that notice you've already eaten are at full capacity. (There is more about this in the book.) You can do this by not eating unhealthy oils or sugar. I wonder if taking an ibuprofen after Thanksgiving would help? Or if eating an anti-inflammatory diet would help?
6. Maybe don't let yourself get too hungry. When people are hungry, they react to high calorie density food but not to healthier low calorie density food. Could eating more frequently help? Or just eating at regular meal times? I remember meeting a very slim French woman who said she thought it was ridiculous to eat when you were hungry. "The point of eating at the same time everyday is to eat before you get hungry!" I'm sure there are many best practices, but the main idea is: avoid high calorie density foods when you are super hungry!

What to eat?
If you want to be leaner, eat a diet filled with satiating foods, which have these characteristics:
*Low calorie density
*Lower fat
*Low to moderate palatability (they taste good but not exciting)
*Higher protein
*High fiber
Profile Image for Mario Tomic.
159 reviews301 followers
February 19, 2017
Absolutely loved it! The Hungry Brain is a much-needed breath of fresh air bringing the science and evidence-based approach to weight management in an industry that has been deeply polluted with decades of dogmatism, fearmongering and pseudoscience. For all of you that know Stephan's work from his blog, the Hungry brain puts it all in one place. My favorite thing about the book is how Stephan breaks down very complex interactions between eating behavior and the brain in a simple easy-to-understand way. The Hungry Brain is a book you can recommend to a friend who might be struggling with weight loss and who's lost in the world of fad dieting. Overall, highly recommended read for all fitness and nutrition professionals, coaches, health enthusiasts and anyone who wishes to learn more about how the brain dictates our food choices.
Profile Image for Nupur.
288 reviews26 followers
April 7, 2019
A really well-researched and well-written book on how the brain controls hunger and eating behavior.

My notes are below. The practical tips for everyday life are in bold.

The conscious, rational brain cares about abstract concepts like health, appearance and the future. The non-conscious intuitive brain only cares about concrete, immediate things. The conflict between the two explains why we overeat even when we don't want to.

Overeating and obesity are caused by a mismatch between ancient survival circuits in the brain and an environment that sends the circuits the wrong messages.

The Fattest Man on the Island
A calorie is a calorie, nevertheless some foods are more fattening than others but this is not because of an effect on the metabolic rate but rather because they coax us to eat more calories.

The obesity epidemic is a result of overeating. What’s the most effective way to cause overeating? “Palatable human foods” or the supermarket/cafeteria diet. Making free and tasty foods available leads to substantial overeating.

The Selection Problem
Eating is a complex behavior that requires coordinated decision-making on motivational, cognitive and motor levels. But motivation (which can come from different brain regions in response to different cues) is the fundamental spark that sets the whole behavioral cascade into motion.

The Chemistry of Seduction
Dopamine is the “learning chemical” rather than the “pleasure chemical”. It reinforces sensory cues.
The brain instinctively seeks out calories. Flavors and smells are a quick way for the brain to gather information about a high calorie food before it enters the digestive tract. The human brain is extremely preoccupied with calories. Non-conscious parts of the brain perceive some foods to be so valuable that they drive us to seek and eat them even if we aren’t hungry and even in the face of a sincere desire to eat a healthy diet and stay lean.
Addiction is simply an exaggerated version of the same reinforcement process that happens in all of us.
Eating a bland repetitive diet does indeed reduce spontaneous caloric intake without provoking hunger.
Eating a varied diet is a good maxim for meeting our overall nutritional needs, but it has a dark side: food variety has a powerful influence on our calorie intake. The more variety we encounter at a meal, the more we eat. To beat the “buffet effect”, limit yourself to a few foods when you are in a buffet or party situation. When food reward and variety decrease, so does food intake.

Why do some people develop obesity and others don’t, when we are all surrounded by high-reward foods? One reason is that people differ greatly in the relative reinforcing value of food, that is, how hard a person is willing to work for food, relative to a non-food reward. Another reason is impulsivity. The third factor is the presence of highly rewarding food in your personal environment.

The United States of Food Reward
Diets of non-industrial cultures have three prominent characteristics in common: they include only a limited variety of food, they don’t add heaps of sugar, salt, fat and flavor to their food and they use only a few cooking methods. To our modern palates, they would seem bland and repetitive because modern palates are accustomed to constant entertainment.
Modern foods are very high-reward. In particular, the combination of concentrated fat and sugar (eg, ice cream) is a deadly one for our food reward system. It is also a pairing that is rarely found in nature.
The foods we encounter today are more seductive than what our ancestors would have encountered. Creating an obesity epidemic was not the objective but it is the unfortunate side effect of the food industry’s race to make money.

The Economics of Eating
The brain that drives hunter-gatherers to gorge on calorie-dense foods when they come across them- and because it’s good for them- is the same brain that drives us to overeat in the modern world. In the dangerous environment of our ancestors, it was advantageous to evolve brains that valued present selves over future selves, but in affluent countries today, the future is more certain than it ever was and it makes sense to value our future selves. An exercise to do this is “episodic future thinking”- before making a decision, imagine yourself vividly in the future. This helps the brain to weigh the future more heavily in its decision-making process.

The Satiety Factor
This chapter is an excellent explanation of leptin.
Rodent experiments revealed that the ob gene codes for a small protein hormone secreted by fat tissue and circulated in the blood- this is leptin, the satiety factor. A complete lack of leptin (genetic mutation) can cause obesity in humans. Starvation also lowers leptin levels. Both these responses can be reversed by injected leptin.
But leptin therapy in general is not a miracle cure for obesity- it requires enormous doses and shows an extremely variable response. Leptin is really a mechanism for detecting deficiency, not excess. While low leptin levels in humans elicit a powerful starvation response that promotes fat gain, high leptin levels don’t engage an equally powerful response to promote fat loss.
Once we gain weight, the lipostat (the brain region that regulates appetite and fatness) regulates adiposity around a higher set point, and becomes one of the primary reasons why we continue to overeat. This doesn’t mean dieting is hopeless but to be successful, it is important to understand, respect and work with what you’re up against.
Diet palatability influences the set point of the lipostat in humans. A weight management secret is to eat simple food, but you have to stick with it long term. Exercise can cause substantial fat loss but it works better for some people than others.

The Hunger Neuron
The brain circuits that control eating and adiposity in rodents are well understood and we’ve cured obesity countless times in rodents. Why can’t we use these techniques in humans? Because of the ethics of manipulating brain circuits. Drugs would be more acceptable but are very blunt tools.
The sating ability of foods is largely explained by a few properties: calorie density up to a certain point (lower the calorie density, the more satiating it is, e. oatmeal), palatability (the more palatable a food, the less filling it is), fat content (the more fat, the less filling per unit calorie), fiber (the more fiber, the more filling) and protein (protein is more filling than carbohydrate or fat).

Sleep restriction increases food intake. When you don’t sleep enough, your lipostat mistakenly thinks you need more energy, which activates your food reward system and causes you to eat more without intending to and often without realizing it. When you don’t sleep enough, you also become a prisoner of your own impulses, more compelled by the immediate reward of eating tempting foods than by long-term costs.

Life in the Fast Lane
Uncontrollable stressors have a stronger effect on the threat response system, and are much more harmful to our health and mental state than stressors we believe we can control. Remarkably, it can make you undereat when only plain, simple food is available but makes us overeat when highly rewarding junk food is available.

The Human Computer This is a summary chapter.
The output of our brain, including appetite and eating behaviors are determined by the input cues it receives. Some cues are processed by conscious circuits and others by non-conscious ones and the latter explain why we overeat despite our best intentions.
(a) The reward system evolved in a world where calories were hard to come by. In the modern world brimming with calorie dense and highly rewarding foods, out hardwired motivation to eat remains strong and drives us to overeat.
(b) The economic choice system weighs costs and benefits of possible actions and selects the best deal. When it comes to food, its primary cues are calories and convenience which is a liability in the modern world.
(c) The lipostat is a system primarily located in the hypothalamus, cued primarily by the hormone leptin, and it non-consciously regulates adiposity by influencing appetite, response to food cues and metabolic rate. It has one job- to keep your adiposity from decreasing (because in the ancient world, more fat= more offspring). This is the system that makes weight loss difficult and often temporary.
(d) The satiety system regulates food intake on a meal by meal basis by making us feel full. It takes cues from the digestive tract and also from the reward system. Calorie dense, low fiber, low protein but highly palatable foods (eg, pizza, ice cream) trip up the satiety system causing us to overeat.

Genetics of these systems could explain why some people develop obesity in the modern world while others stay lean. This is why it does not make sense to judge people for their weight.

The sleep and circadian systems interact with the systems above to influence eating patterns. Stress shifts our eating preferences towards calorie dense and highly palatable comfort food.

Outsmarting the Hungry Brain
We can manage weight by giving our brain the right cues. Things that can be done as a nation: taxes on foods like soda, changing the way government subsidies are allocated, financial incentives for healthy foods, regulating food advertising.

Six steps for a slimming lifestyle
1. Fix your food environment- get rid of tempting, calorie-dense foods around you (home, office), minimize exposure to food ads and visible food, create barriers to easy eating by not keeping ready to eat food around.
2. Manage your appetite- choose foods that are not as calorie dense, and high in fiber and protein for greater satiety. Eat simple foods closer to their natural state. Limit highly rewarding foods.
3. Beware of food reward- Calorie dense combinations of fat, sugar, protein, are highly rewarding and powerfully drive cravings and overeating. Alcohol, caffeine and theobromine in chocolate are habit-forming and may drive consumption of unneeded calories.
4. Make sleep a priority
5. Move your body
6. Manage stress- identify if you are a stress eater, identify the stressor(s), mitigate the stressor(s) by making plans to manage it, practice mindfulness meditation, replace stress eating with more constructive coping methods, and remove comfort foods from your environment.

Profile Image for Stephanie.
750 reviews989 followers
July 28, 2021
CW: talking about food and eating habits

Starting a shelf for the non-fiction books I read in case anyone is interested. I'm on a road to self improvement, people! And I'm trying to tackle my chronic overeating. 

This book was really informative and very straightforward. I took notes as I went wound up with great broken down pieces of information that are interesting and in some cases shocking. I do wish that the author had spent more time on the basics of what things (like lipostat and adiposity) are, not just what they do. 

Some of what I wrote down AND highlighted:
- We often make self-destructive choices when our decisions involve the future, because your intuitive brain has no concept of the future - it just wants to eat things that taste good, right now. 
- Give the rational brain a boost when making a decision that pits your present self vs your future self by imagining positive events in the future, such as your birthday/upcoming vacation. This is called episodic future thinking and it's about placing yourself in the scene and imagining yourself enjoying it. This fires up regions in your prefrontal cortex that process abstract concepts like the future and causes your brain to intuitively weight the future more heavily in the decision-making process. 
- When you don't sleep enough your lipostat mistakenly thinks you need more energy, which activates your food reward system, causing you to overeat.
- We seek highly rewarding, calorie dense "comfort" junk food (or drugs) when stressed because the reward value itself helps us feel better by dampening the activity of the threat response system. (I knew stress eating is a real thing!!)
Profile Image for Chris Boutté.
Author 8 books145 followers
June 4, 2021
I’ve struggled with my weight for my entire life, and this year, I’m trying to learn as much as I can about the science behind weight loss and weight gain. This book was recommended by another author who wrote about the science of burning calories, and this one didn’t disappoint. Guyenet focused on how our brain can trick us into making us hungry as well as a variety of different contextual factors that can make us hungry. I learned a ton from this book, and there are a lot of interesting studies in here as well. Sometimes, books like this can be filled with too much jargon, but the author did a great job writing it in a way for anyone to grasp. There are definitely some tips from this book that I’ll be using on my weight loss journey.
Profile Image for Jay Pruitt.
222 reviews14 followers
September 27, 2019
The Hungry Brain describes testing and experimentation conducted in recent years on lab rats and humans alike, attempting to explain how the brain, genetics and chemical reactions, influence our eating behaviors. Obviously well researched, the book was a bit more technical than I was hoping for. For the layperson, the medical jargon became difficult to follow. Towards the end of the book we are presented with recommendations for those wanting to control our state of "adiposity", many of which are techniques commonly known. For example, limit intake of "high reward" foods like chocolate and white flour, and rather eat bland foods like vegetables, meat and potatoes. Some may find the book interesting, but I was starting to skim pages by the latter half.
Profile Image for Carol Bakker.
1,144 reviews75 followers
May 28, 2022
I heard Stephan Guyenet on the Diet Dr. podcast and decided to read The Hungry Brain. He describes researchers trying to solve the problem of creating obese mice. The solution was the "human cafeteria diet," i.e. give them unlimited access to human food. It's called opportunistic voracity.

Lots of science. Which I tend to read as blah blah blah vagus nerve blah blah blah basal ganglia.

Skipping to the chase, his six main points to outsmart the hungry brain:
1. Fix your food environment. Keep food out of visibility.
2. Manage your appetite by eating foods with strong satiety that are closest to their natural state.
3. Beware of food rewards. Eat simple foods.
4. Make sleep a priority. Lack of sleep impairs our lipostat. Our brain is saying we are in a food-deprived state when we aren't. On average, we eat 300 more calories after a bad night's sleep.
5. Move your body. This helps manage appetite and is a fundamental ingredient for good health.
6. Manage stress. Give your threat response system the right cues.

2 reviews
November 30, 2017
The best book about obesity currently on the market. However, since Guyenet is a scientist true to science, he is sometimes a little bit vague on things I feel he ha some very strong views on in private.

Therefore, this book is the best summary of the best obesity research to date, and really gives you the best framework for thinking about obesity as a whole.

If You want to lose weight, read this in conjunction with Guyenet excellent blog.

This book is the one book every layman need to read about obesity, and obesity professionals should have this AS their favoritt book, and every doctor should have a copy on their desk and recommend it!
Profile Image for Alex MacMillan.
141 reviews50 followers
October 29, 2021
Ever since high school I’ve understood how people get fat, but I like to read books like this one to periodically remind myself why. During high school I ballooned, going from 170 to 220 pounds over a 6 month period, until I read David Kessler's The End of Overeating and proceeded to lose the fifty pounds and keep them off throughout college. Knowledge is power. However, between Graduation 2013 and Halloween 2018 I proceeded to gradually gain all that weight back, despite my exercise regimen and above-average mindfulness about food (I’ve lost twenty pounds [and counting] since then).

I found out about this book after listening to the author debate Gary Taubes on the Joe Rogan podcast. The Hungry Brain reiterates the cognitive science/evolutionary psychology perspective on weight gain that I was already familiar with, but contributes the most recent scientific experiments to put a subtle update on the “Calories-in, Calories-out” framework embraced by the scientific mainstream.

The key cause of weight gain, Guyenet reminds us, is that our contemporary diets aren’t boring enough. Our brains evolved to unconsciously divert us from the original purpose of food, which is to fuel our daily activities, rather than as a source of entertainment, or a means to pave over negative moods like boredom and stress. Accidental weight gain is nearly impossible when we stick to mostly whole foods and vegetables, because the fiber and nutritional value quickly satiates us. However, these foods are relatively bland when compared to the highly concentrated levels of sugar, salt, and fat found in contemporary processed foods, which are always available at a moment's notice.

This book informed me for the first time about how we all have a baseline “lipostat” governing our daily appetite. We are unconsciously compelled to satisfy our lipostat, set by a combination of genetic inheritance and food environment, despite the pounds of excess fat around our waists that our conscious selves wish would go away. Highly processed foods share the properties of addictive drugs, gradually pushing our lipostats higher and higher over time, until and unless we figure out how to make a course correction. This book serves as a great reminder of what I already knew that I needed to do to stay healthy: fill my pantry with only “boring/satiating” food, and cut back on “recreational-drug” food, so that I can keep the unconscious impulses of my appetite in check. - April 2019

Update: I lost 12 pounds since April 2019, down from a peak of 220 pounds in October 2018 to 189 pounds as of October 2021. Several years of Huel shakes during work hours were the lynchpin of burning off all the weight I put on in law school. This vegan protein powder (mixed with water and a banana) embodies the scientific principles of this book, and is something I highly recommend to others with a genetic susceptibility for weight gain. - October 2021
430 reviews10 followers
March 27, 2019
This is the first book I’ve seen that explains the brain science behind things like why sleep deprivation increases obesity, how stress impacts the brain’s reaction to food, and why we crave so strongly foods that aren’t healthy for us. It took some paying attention for me to gather up all the science, although it’s presented in terms that a layman can get. I’m not sure that knowing this will make the a-ha difference for someone trying to change their eating (for me, the advice to get enough sleep and reduce stress isn’t really earth-shattering), but it’s a strong additional support tool. With so much nutrition advice out there being based on hunches and anecdotes, it is deeply appreciated to see a book like this.
Profile Image for Christina.
266 reviews
March 10, 2017
This was a very concise book, but not written for the layperson. It was an extremely scientific overview of why humans are becoming fatter. I got a bit lost with the academic language throughout the book, even though it was absolutely necessary when describing the various brain centres and their roles in hunger. I quite enjoyed the last couple chapters as they were easier for my non-scientific brain to grasp. A great book by Mr. Guyenet, but not a quick, easy read.
300 reviews3 followers
April 6, 2021
Põhjused, miks me oleme järjest rohkem ülekaalulised on ju tegelikult teada, meie esivanematel olid ju samad geenid ja samuti töötav aju, kui meil. Muutunud on keskkond- oluliselt väiksem energiakulu, reklaam, tööstuslik toit, erinev st liiga mitmekülgne isuäratav toit, rafineeritud suhkur ja jahud, naturaalsete loomsete rasvade asemel kasutame järjest enam töödeldud rafineeritud taimseid jne. Meie keha, aga, on endiselt programmeeritud hankima võimalikult vähese vaevaga maksimaalselt energiat. Ja nii ta läheb.

Mind huvitasid rohkem kehaga seotud protsessid, ehk siis miks ja mis seda kõike korraldab ja sellele annab raamat osati ka vastuse. Kurb uudis on see, et tegelikult väga paljut me ikkagi ei tea. Edukad loomkatsed ei tarvitse toimida inimestel ja/või pole neid eetiline inimestel rakendada. Väga paljudel juhtudel on endiselt õhus küsimus, et kumb on põhjus ja kumb tagajärg.loe rohkem http://indigoaalane.blogspot.com/2021...
32 reviews
December 18, 2020
This was very comprehensive and included lots of studies on various reasons for why we eat such as genetics, food environment, sleep, ingredients in food, stress, exercise etc. I also liked that he didn't seem biased towards any particular diet/lifestyle. Although he included tips on how to implement the research into your daily life, I felt like there could've been more written on it rather than just a small chapter in the end that seemed like an afterthought.
242 reviews1 follower
June 8, 2021
Full disclosure - I didn't read this thoroughly... more like a healthy skim with a full read of the final chapter. I didn't uncover any mysterious new discovery, but it was interesting to see the connection between our brains and hunger (or what we think is hunger).
Profile Image for Wilford.
8 reviews2 followers
October 30, 2019
A solid and fun to read book about the science of what causes us to eat and overeat. The information contained within is super interesting, though sometimes a bit... disheartening.

If you're looking for a book that gives you strong, clear directions on how to lose weight... well, this book isn't it, and after reading the book, I am even less trusting of those "lose weight fast" schemes. (I've been pondering writing my own weight-loss guide from the book, which will sort of be a "safely and healthily permanently lose a pound each year" sort of thing at best.)

What this book does is provide a full understanding of how modern day life intersects with a brain build for scarcity. Which... is easy to say, and is simple in a general matter, but the book really gets into all the particular gears and levers. Not only food related things like ease or the buffet effect, but also sleep and stress. Each things gets a chapter, and is entirely readable, despite the excellent detail.

It's also a very non-judgemental book. Guyenet deals in neuroscience, and is aware of a book's worth of reasons why being over one's desired weight is more a big roll of the dice than some sort of moral failing. In fact, there's pretty much zero interpretation of weight as a moral failing.

I think that non-judgemental nature is partly because Guyenet isn't trying to sell anything. There's no motive for him to go "Hey, something's wrong with you, fix it by buying [X]." He just wants people to know more about how their brains interact with food.

I would have liked to see him put a chapter on the effects of modern dieting schemes. There's mentions strewn throughout the book, particularly if you read between the lines (Lipostat upregulation is done by episodes of extreme eating, and adjusted down by time, so starving then binging is less effective than steady non-feasting), but a whole chapter on how modern schemes interact with the body and brain would be nice.

(Content note: If you are squeamish about rat studies, they come up quite a few times.)
Profile Image for Vidur Kapur.
118 reviews38 followers
October 18, 2022
In the late 19th Century, the proportion of middle-aged, white American men who were obese was approximately 1 in 17. In the late 20th Century, the figure was close to 1 in 4.

Clearly, genetic changes cannot explain such a sharp change. But like many characteristics, body weight is highly heritable, with genetic differences accounting for around 70% of the variance. What has happened, the neuroscientist Stephan Guyenet argues, is that our food and personal environments changed dramatically over the course of the 20th Century, causing caloric intake on the population level to increase. Crucially, though, Guyenet does not propose that obesity is simply a matter of people willingly or voluntarily choosing to consume more calories. Rather, some people are more susceptible to the effects of these environmental changes than others, due to genetic differences. What are the mechanisms through which these genetic differences have an impact on body weight? Guyenet discusses a few key systems.

Firstly, there is the reward system, centred in the basal ganglia. We get less reward from bland, less palatable food, and from food that is less calorically dense. Habituation also plays a role here. Food companies, meanwhile, spend their time ensuring that food is as palatable as possible, but some people are easier targets than others – the relative reinforcing value of food differs between individuals, with the orbitofrontal cortex (reciprocally connected to the basal ganglia) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex being implicated in value computation. It’s superficially surprising from an evolutionary standpoint that experiments have found that people actively lose weight and consume fewer calories on bland diets, given that calories are calories, but it could be a function of the value computations that humans would have had to make – with limited resources – in their evolutionary past.

Secondly, there is the lipostat, located primarily in the hypothalamus, which helps to regulate satiety. If people are systematically underfed, and then left to their own devices, their body weight will tend to rebound rapidly, primarily due to a prodigious appetite. As they close in on their original weight, their appetites normalise. These changes have been linked to the hormone leptin. Leptin-deficient obese children, for instance, have the same insatiable appetites that those who have been systematically underfed have. These children benefit from leptin injections, but results in people with normal levels of leptin have been mixed. Leptin may help to defend against weight loss, but not so vigorously against weight gain.

Guyenet hypothesises that leptin regulates adiposity around a higher set point when people gain weight, in part because the lipostat has been placed in an unfamiliar environment. The palatability of a diet may be able to affect the lipostat’s set point. While hunger (detected by the hypothalamus) is able to act on the reward system in the basal ganglia, food reward may also be able to influence appetite. Exercise may also be able to act on the lipostat: on the one hand, it causes people to lose fat and therefore trigger an increase in appetite as less leptin is secreted by the body’s fat cells; on the other hand, it may be able to lower the lipostat’s set point, reducing appetite. The relative strength of these forces may vary from person to person. This could explain why the literature on the effects of exercise on weight loss is so mixed. It may also shed light on the finding that protein is more satiating than fat or carbohydrate: there is evidence that amino acids, acting directly in the hypothalamus, influence the lipostat system and could lower its set point. Along with protein and palatability, fibre and calorie density can also influence satiety.

How does leptin influence appetite? In part, it reduces hunger-promoting neuropeptide Y levels in the brain, and increases the levels of hunger-suppressing melanocortins. And how does obesity change the lipostat’s set point? There is some evidence that the hypothalamus suffers from inflammation and injury in obesity, or even that these effects precede obesity and could be the result of the food we eat. It’s clear that more work is needed to untangle these associations. The fact that Americans’ weight gain tends to be concentrated toward the end of the year suggests that leptin resistance might play a role (as leptin correlates not only with body fat levels but also with short-term changes in calorie intake) in how the set point is altered.

There is a third system that is involved in regulating how we eat: the brain stem. In fact, the brain stem is primarily responsible for regulating meal-to-meal satiety, but the hypothalamus primarily regulates long-term energy balance and adiposity. However, these systems influence each other, with the hypothalamus influencing brain stem satiety circuits in the long-term. Similarly, the sleep and circadian rhythm systems may interact with the reward system and the lipostat to influence our eating behaviour.

Overall, a good book by Guyenet, who is generally careful not to go beyond what the evidence supports, to highlight the uncertainties in the literature, and to give periodic reality checks. I think he succeeds in reconciling the palatability and reward system on the one hand, and the lipostat system on the other, but this could have been made more explicit (for example, the weight loss observed when people follow bland diets presumably occurs because the lipostat’s set point is lowered, otherwise you would expect it to cause people to regain the weight they have lost).

Most of his recommendations will be familiar to readers, but the aim of the book is to attempt to explain their neuroscientific basis. It’s also a useful antidote to the so-called ‘Diet Wars’ that have been raging for decades, in that Guyenet attempts to sidestep those debates altogether, though some of the evidence he cites (not to mention his model as a whole) invariably has implications for the veracity of certain obesity hypotheses, which is why he’s had to debate proponents of alternative (in my view, discredited) models in other formats and venues.
2 reviews
September 1, 2018
This is a technical read, but I took a high school anatomy class that helped me find most of the terms relatively familiar. The author does a good job of explaining terms quickly and clearly, which is invaluable for staying attentive through the book. There's tons of tidbits hidden in the discussions in each chapter that I found sparking ideas about ways to try out a concept he talks about, and I really appreciated the various ways he gave different approaches that scientists have studied (even if not on purpose) the functions in the brain that contribute to appetite, adiposity, and ways to control them. If you struggle with your appetite or weight loss, I highly recommend this book.

Also, I recommend reading it instead of listening to it. I listened to it and the reader was good bu I wished it had been easier to pause and take notes or look things up. I was always driving. :)
Profile Image for Jen.
6 reviews
January 21, 2021
“The Hungry Brain” is a book I wish more people new about and read - especially if they are working with or personally struggling with overeating.

I loved how it included a variety of scientific research, case studies, and biological science to explain its points on the most simplistic way possible. Even if you aren’t a “science-person” the info shared is very easy to digest.

I found the last chapter especially helpful, as it summarized all of the main points of the book and helped give realistic action steps.

Thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be recommending it to clients and coaching friends who work within the wellness/nutrition industry.
Profile Image for Sabina.
123 reviews3 followers
June 26, 2020
Imagine your brain like an auction house, where hunger bids the highest amount. This book is a deep dive into the neuroscience of the brain and how it handles hunger.
After reading Guyenet, I feel more aware of how my brain tricks me into choosing the least best options. Thankfully he provides plenty strategies to handle this.
For my taste, there were too many tests on rats and monkeys.
Also very scientific at times, probably more suitable for reader that have extended knowledge in neuroscience.
I had a tasty banana bread today.
Profile Image for Adam.
207 reviews9 followers
February 2, 2018
A very enjoyable evidence based look at food and nutrition. This book made me change the way I look at food, eating, dieting and such.

Stephan Guyenet dismisses some myths about food and then proceeds to give compelling, research backed reasons for which people overeat. In general these ideas seem to have validity.

What he states and that I previously generally agreed with is that calories in and calories out is what causes weight gain. All calories are roughly equal, but it's a bit more complex at people actually extract and burn calories differently. I always figured some "unhealthy" food which has similar calories to a "healthy" one is generally not all that different. Modern wisdom tells us otherwise and vilifies some foods as unhealthy but those reasons are usually wrong (carbs are bad, fat is good, grains are bad, glutten bad or some bull shit like that)

Basically, one of the main reasons is that of food reward. Foods that are appealing have high food reward. This is fatty, sweet, salty, savoury foods. Modern food is engineered to have high food reward because of course it would people like shit that tastes good. High food reward encourages overeating, creates addiction like (careful not to call it addiction) behaviour with food and encourages obesity through various processes, like changing your brain's set point about what your weight should be. This idea is supported well by evidence in people and animals and seems to be a reasonable, if not somewhat intuitive, idea of what's causing the obesity epidemic.

It may seem obvious but basically people eat more when food is tasty, but it's a bit more nuanced than that as the author explains.

The catch? Most foods which are usually vilified as being "bad for you" actually have high food reward and so called "healthy" foods have low food reward. So most common intuitive health advice ends up being right for the wrong reason! No it's not that you should eat a salad because it's simply healthy but eating a salad will fill you without as many calories as, say, french fries.

Some good advice on how to have a healthy relationship with eating. Tricks to not be tempted by food and eat less food rewarding food. The down side? It pretty much means eating food that doesn't taste as good! But there are no short cuts to eating well it seems.

All around a good read and I'd recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about food and nutrition.
Profile Image for Anna T.
45 reviews
April 14, 2021
See raamat räägib kaalutõusu telgitagustest - teadusuuringutest, ajaloost, katsetest. Hästi liigendatud, tähtsamad mõtted on eraldi kastikeste sees kokku võetud. Lühidalt:

- Söö lihtsaid asju: värsket kraami, liha-kala, jogurtit, mune, täisteratooteid, ube ja läätsesid. Ära osta koju ahvatlusi või ümbritse end sellistega, mille söömiseks tuleb vaeva näha (koorega pähklid, koorimist vajavad puuviljad). Ära premeeri end toiduga, lõpeta pidev näksimine.

- Piira tarbitava alkoholi hulka.

- Hoidu stressist ja liiguta end piisavalt.

- Maga korralikult. Vähene uni paneb mitte ainult rohkem sööma, vaid ka kehvemaid valikuid tegema, ühtlasi tõstab stressitaset, mis omakorda paneb ebatervislikumalt sööma.

- Kujutle oma tuleviku-mina ja mõtle, kas täna tehtavad valikud aitavad sellele lähemale või kaugemale?

- Pea meeles, et tänapäevane toiduainetööstus ei ole sinu sõber. Mis viib tagasi esimese punktini: söö lihtsaid asju!

Ei midagi uut siin päikese all! Aga väliste ahvatluste tõttu pidev võitlus iseendaga. Hea raamat!
Profile Image for Tomas Liutvinas.
34 reviews6 followers
September 13, 2021
This is the best book I've read, targeted at understanding how the brain affects our eating habits.

The process is very well explained, with studies and examples, and a great summary of actionable steps and adjustments at the end of the book (but don't skip to the end, the book is worth the read!).

I haven't hit a book that would leave a profound impact on my mindset for quite a while now and I'm really happy to have read this one and this one is an immediate addition to the list of my favorite books with this one.

I always rate the recommended reading pace for a book, because I hold it important. For this one, the pace is medium/selective. You can choose to read it slowly, but if you're in the mood it is possible to digest it in higher chunks without having to process a lot of complex data or missing out, unlike with some other more complex books. Essentially it is definitely possible to read within a week or less without loss of content attention.

The material inside does cover some seemingly complex/specific brain regions or processes of hormones, but it is presented in a very digestible manner.

Definitely recommend it, have a nice day, thanks for coming to my ted talk.
Profile Image for Franco.
53 reviews2 followers
January 5, 2023
It's mostly about explaining the physiology of satiety and hunger trying to explain the obesity epidemic. It's nice that you get a lot of images pointing out different brain regions, which makes the content more palatable. There's chapters for influences of genes, stress, sleep.

There's no recipe on loosing weight in this book, the idea is you derive the basic principles to improve your diet. Although there's a very old study the guy mentions which seems to be very effective at reducing weight, but he just keeps going. There's no why we aren't treating obese people with something like that. The study is Studies in normal and obese subjects with a monitored food dispensing device.
Profile Image for Kate.
880 reviews14 followers
January 25, 2023
This a great, informative book on the subject. I didn't learn anything new, but have studied it a lot and like to stay current on new studies and research in the field. This book is relatively up to date and cohesively weaves the information together in the book. I found it be interesting and engaging, though it may be a bit dry for those who don't necessarily care for the scientific aspect and only want helpful tips. I found the latter to be more lacking, but plenty of scientific details if you enjoy that. Overall, a great book that helps in understanding how our bodies function and eating patterns.
Profile Image for Xerxia.
416 reviews7 followers
June 25, 2018
Those who know me know I'm a bit of a science nerd and won't be surprised that I loved this book.

It's not, despite how it's marketed, really a book for the lay person. Yes, the author adequately breaks down the science into understandable chunks, but the average person who doesn't get a hard on for neuroscience will be bored before the end of chapter one. But if you are, like me, fascinated by the brain, this was fantastic; really well researched with a ton of references, and a smattering of humour to keep the whole thing from feeling like a lecture.
Profile Image for Ashley Heggi.
91 reviews
July 1, 2022
The discussion around how much of our dietary and eating behavior is driven by subconscious mechanisms in the brain is worth reading the entire book, even though there were some sections in the book I felt were not as well supported as others, and at times I found the organization confusing (could have been a function of listening to it as an audiobook). The suggestions for ways to modify individual behavior at the end, particularly with respect to food environment, were very good. I enjoyed this as part of my "cluster read" on nutrition/metabolism. Would recommend.
Profile Image for Guilherme Zeitounlian.
234 reviews5 followers
August 28, 2019
It's easy to find weight loss and diet books that talk about insulin. Or sleep. Or behaviour. Or counting calories.

It's not so easy to find a book that tries to encapsulate all that, and therefore talks about the systems that govern our desires and our hunger - and that drive us to overeat.

The Hungry Brain is a great book because it shows how complex the interactions inside our bodies can be.

And it is interesting to realize how the author travels a different path than the other books, but arrives at the same conclusions: sleep well, move your body, manage stress, and eat less processed food (ideally higher in protein and not ultra-palatable). I liked it a lot, and give it a 4/5.
Profile Image for Wendi Lau.
434 reviews23 followers
April 3, 2018
When I realized how much time my family spends eating, particularly the soccer player and runner, I thought this might be a good read. And it was. I understand why potato chips are so appealing to me but why yogurt, beets, and lettuce are way better. I would rather have both categories of food in my diet instead of only healthy, but now I understand the things that make me want to eat chips and fries as well as how to avoid putting my brain in that cravey place. Fiber, less yummy, less stress, more activity, more sleep, less stress, and less visible snacks all good. Foods that are easier to eat and yummy, like ice cream, make it easy to overdo. Funny that rats got fat easier and faster on the Standard American Diet.
Profile Image for Viktoriaf.
76 reviews2 followers
April 26, 2020
A fascinating compilation of research related to brains perception and processing of food and how we are influenced by that.

A special bonus is the list of tips, driven from the research reflected in the book on mastering your own brain.
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