NOV 15, 2017 7:40 AM PST

What Losing Weight Does to the Brain


Losing weight can be an ongoing struggle for some people. While maintaining overall health means staying at the best weight possible, it's not easy. In its purest form, losing weight is just about eating less and moving more. By decreasing the number of calories consumed and increasing the number of calories burned seems essential enough, after about the first week of a diet the brain has figured out what's going. In the body, fat cells release a hormone called leptin. This hormone is a signal to the brain that you are full and should stop eating.

When a person loses weight, there will be less fat cells, which means less of the hormone leptin. In brain scans of dieters who had lost 10% of their body weight, there was increased activity in the part of the brain that controls appetite. Lower levels of leptin mean feeling hungrier. The brain knows it needs that leptin and will signal a desire to go for high-fat foods like ice cream or pizza. Hanging in there, however, can be worth it not just for weight loss, but for brain wiring. In a study of patients who had lost weight and kept it off for almost a year, the activity in the reward region of the brain that processes cravings had gone down, and activity in the areas that rule impulse control had gone up. So stick with it and not only will your body look better, your brain will work more efficiently too.
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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