The Role of the Brain in Weight Control

The role of the brain in weight control is crucial, although it is not the only aspect that influences. However, many diets fail because they do not take into account the way the hypothalamus regulates the sensation of hunger.

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The role of the brain in weight control is definitive. That is what several neuroscientists have concluded in this regard. Of course, it is not the only factor, but it is one of the essential ones. The appetite in the human being is not always unleashed or lost by exclusively physical and physiological factors.

The issue of body weight is one of the biggest concerns today. For ordinary people, because we increasingly have canons of aesthetics more severe. For doctors, because obesity is a risk factor for hundreds of diseases, as is excessive thinness.

“Eating is a necessity, knowing how to eat is an art”.

-La Rochefoucauld-

There are thousands of people in the world who do diets, hoping to lose a few kilos. However, they do not always work for them. And those that work at some, sometimes not at others. This is largely due to the fact that the role of the brain in weight control is not taken into account. What is this about? Let’s see.

Hunger is a complex phenomenon

Until a while ago, hunger was spoken of as a simple stomach contraction, which occurred when an organism had not ingested food. It was said that the body was like a machine simply: it needed fuel to function. And if I spent that “fuel”, I had to replace it.

Today we know that the subject is more complex and that there is an influence of the brain on weight control. One thing is hunger and another is eating behavior. There are studies that show that people still feel hungry, although for medical reasons they have had their stomachs removed.

It is now known that the hypothalamus is the part of the brain responsible for regulating the sensation of hunger and thirst. This zone detects certain signals of the endocrine and digestive system. Then he determines that it is time to eat something and so he communicates it to the body. In addition, it also defines when it is sufficient.

The hypothalamus and satiety

When the body needs to eat, the lateral area of ​​the hypothalamus is activated. If someone were to remove this area, he would not feel the need to eat. If the appetite has already been satiated, then that lateral zone is deactivated and the lower central zone of the hypothalamus or ventromedial hypothalamus is activated. If someone were to remove this part, he would never stop eating.

Now, the signal that says “enough” is activated thanks to a substance released by the intestines and called glp-1. It travels through the bloodstream to the brain, reaching the hypothalamus. When he receives enough of that substance, the desire to eat disappears.

The problem is that between the time you eat and the time when the hypothalamus receives that signal, 10 minutes pass. So if we eat quickly, it is likely that we will only feel full when we have eaten more. On the other hand, if we eat slowly, very possibly you will only eat just enough.

The role of the brain in weight control

The foregoing gives us an idea of ​​the importance of the brain in weight control, but does not exhaust the subject. The neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt has studied the subject in detail. In this regard, you only have one tip that is worth a thousand: eat when you are hungry. It seems very simple, but it is not so simple.

Aamodt points out that the brain has a set point: it knows what your ideal weight is and regulates your appetite depending on it. The problem is that not all people obey those feelings. They deprive themselves of eating when they feel appetite or eat more, even when they feel satiated. If these abnormal patterns are maintained for more than two years, the hypothalamus will establish a new set point.

This means that the hypothalamus will set a new ideal weight. Thus, who eats little will remain underweight and will not feel appetite, so your body needs more nutrients. And whoever eats more, will feel hungry, even if he has already ingested what his body needs. In this way the brain operates in weight control.

Therefore, losing weight becomes difficult, because the brain will resist tooth and nail to allow you to eat less, than he has defined as the correct pattern. The advice then is preventive: eat when you have appetite, stop later. That is going to avoid many problems.