We all know the basics of losing weight: don’t consume more calories than your body needs. And yet many of us still overeat anyway, sometimes continually, sometimes to the point where it leads to obesity, diabetes, and a significantly lower quality of life. Why does our behavior betray our intentions to be lean and healthy? 

My guest today argues that the answer lies in the ancient instincts of our brains that no longer fit the environment of the modern world. His name is Stephan Guyenet, and he’s a neuroscientist, obesity researcher, and the author of The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat. We begin our conversation with what’s changed in our country to turn obesity into an epidemic, and why Americans started gaining more weight in the 1970s. We then dive into exactly how the reward system in our brains leads us to eat more than we need to, how modern manufactured foods like Doritos hijack this reward system, and the factors that ramp up our cravings, including the buffet effect. We then explain how to push back on the desire to overeat, including reevaluating the assumption that all the food you consume needs to be delicious. From there we turn to the role that the hormone leptin plays in appetite regulation, how it can make it hard to keep the weight you lose from coming back, and the best techniques to manage this countervailing force. We end our conversation with the role stress and sleep play in weight gain.

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Show Highlights

Why have obesity rates been rising for the last few decades?The insidious nature of between-meal eating Why does our brain want us to eat more than we need?The unique human need for salt What does dopamine really do? Why chocolate is the perfect food for our palette What role does variety play in overeating?The effort barrier and the insane availability of calorie-dense, delicious foods How to make overeating harder and healthy eating easier Does your food have to be delicious every time?What is leptin? What role does it play in our desire to eat?How to change your food environment The role of sleep in our eating habits How does stress affect our eating?

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

How to Eat What You Want and Still Lose WeightHow to Lose Weight, and Keep It Off ForeverEverything You Need to Know About Diet and Fat LossA Primer on Flexible DietingWhy Carbs Don’t Make You FatThe Advantages of a High-Carb/Low-Fat DietHow to Hack the Habit LoopYour Life Explained Through DopamineTaking Control of Your DopamineDiet and Nutrition Advice From the Doctor of GainsYour Grandpa’s Diet Plan22 Ways to Get a Better Night’s SleepWhat Every Man Should Know About SleepHow to Manage StressHow to Stress Proof Your Body and Brain

Connect With Stephan

Stephan’s website

Stephan on Twitter


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