You have tried all the diets and yet nothing works, you tirelessly regain your lost pounds, see more. What if the culprit was your brain? Studies by neurobiologists have demonstrated its role in weight gain. However, our brain means us no harm, it is there to protect us. By deceiving him a little, we can even find common ground…
What is the role of our brain?
And if losing weight, it happened mainly in our head? Two neurobiologists, Sandra Aamodt and Michel Desmurget, are interested in it. They themselves sought to lose weight and suffered setbacks before saying goodbye to their pounds permanently. After going through many studies, they concluded that each of us has a programmed weight range. Our brain is therefore constantly trying to stay the course. During a diet, rapid weight loss then creates an alert and several mechanisms are put in place to regain the lost pounds. However, our brain does not play against us, on the contrary. It just doesn’t make the difference between a desired diet and an experienced starvation. If we lose too many kilos, too quickly, he interprets it as a potential risk for our health. Indeed, as Michel Desmurget explains, the brain remembers the famines experienced by our ancestors and therefore makes every effort to preserve our fat stores and regain a stable weight…whose figure does not always correspond to our expectations!
How it works ?
The hypotalamus is a small area of our brain that controls the energy regulation mechanisms of our body. Lipid stocks, blood sugar levels, nutritional intake, food rations… he is the captain who manages fuel stocks. When the gauges drop, it activates the warning signal that makes us hungry. However, when it is the weight gauge that decreases, it does not make the difference between voluntary or involuntary weight loss. In the event of a diet, it is therefore one of our most formidable adversaries. Bad luck for us, he has many weapons that are difficult to fight against. Its signals then allow our brain to modify our metabolism. Without realizing it, our movements become slower, we feel less satiety, and it can even disconnect stretch sensors from the stomach, making us feel like our stomach isn’t full! For the most determined among us, the brain has planned everything. An area in our prefrontal cortex can make us obsess over food! Everything returns to normal when our weight is back within the established range. Should we give up? Nope ! The two neurobiologists have each proposed a method to overcome the strategies put in place by our brain to make us crack.
Pay attention to the feeling of satiety
Sandra Aamodt offers a real work of reflection. She suggests focusing on feeling of satiety. The important thing is then to identify if the hunger felt is real or if it is a desire to eat. This reflection goes hand in hand with becoming aware of one’s emotional and cultural motivations regarding food. In fact, food is closely linked to emotions. Thus, you can resist once the delicious éclair from the bakery located at the exit of your place of work, but if you chain the bad days, you will end up cracking. It is even possible that you melt for two lightning bolts instead of one and that you forget your good resolution to take the stairs to rush into the elevator and get there even faster! Understanding his brain, his motivations, identifying hunger and cravings, and understanding why, will allow you to give in to temptation in all conscience to better resist it afterwards.
It is also important to do the peace with oneself and to accept its image, even if it does not correspond to the standards that the media impose on us.
Trick our brain
Michel Desmuget (who has lost 50 kg in 4 years) offers the “small steps strategy“. He suggests getting to know the brain better to circumvent its mechanisms. Thus, it would be better slowly changing habits food so as not to rush him. Weight loss is slower, it’s true, but it will be in the long run. If you go for spaghetti bolognese, put a little less pasta, a little more carrots and tomatoes. An effective way to consume more vegetables. Do you love pizza? Do not forbid them, but choose the least caloric and add a little green salad. The strategy will be the same for the choice of dessert for example.
The frustration also plays against the fact of losing weight permanently. Rather than opting for a mono diet, a restrictive diet, or the elimination of your favorite guilty pleasures, it will be better to learn to cook and find pleasure in a healthy and balanced diet. Spices, discovery of flavors, sweet/salty mixtures… Take the time to put yourself in the kitchen to move the pleasure slider towards healthier and lower-calorie foods. You do not believe in it ? Try !
Another way to trick your brain is to play on the size plates. Indeed, the latter does not know the size of a “normal” portion. On the other hand, if you order a “small” salad at the restaurant, you will surely still be hungry, whereas you will be satisfied with a “large” salad, even if the two dishes… are the same size! By opting for smaller dishes, you will have the feeling of eating more. Your brain will see nothing but fire! Just as, if the brain will notice a rapid weight loss and will take out all its defense weapons to increase our body weight again, it will hardly notice a very gradual weight loss. Less upset, he will then not oppose this weight loss.
Last tricks to trick your brain, you can hide, or even delete, cakes and other temptations that are too fatty and too sweet. Absent from home, you will end up not thinking about it. You can also opt for a single, healthy and hearty dish, and avoid fatty starters (quiche, mayonnaise-based dishes, sweets, etc.) and sweet desserts.
The two scientists also agree that it is not necessary to compel oneself to excessive sports practice without taking pleasure in it. Physical exercises such as a daily walk, taking the stairs and moving around are enough to eliminate.