Energy Balance

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Why Are We Fatter Than Our Ancestors? Interview with Dr. Stephan Guyenet

Why do so many of us overeat – even when we know it’s bad for us?

Like many questions in biology, much of the answer to this question lies in evolution. We know that animals have generally evolved to seek and consume convenient, energy-dense foods. All living things require energy to survive and reproduce, and it makes intuitive sense that genes associated with finding and eating lots of easy calories might be favored by natural selection. This instinct is also evident in humans in natural environments. Hunter-gatherers, who live in conditions similar to that of our evolutionary ancestors, gravitate to delicious high-calorie fare, although they don’t find a great deal of it. When they do get something extra tasty and high in energy – like ripe fruit, fresh meat, and honey – they will gorge on it.

Not unlike us. Modern humans are subject to these impulses as well. So what’s different? Our environment has dramatically changed. Rather than getting rare seasonal opportunities to gorge on rich foods, we are now constantly surrounded by such delicacies. We did not evolve with any need to resist these kinds of tasty treats – so perhaps it is unsurprising that we so often fail despite our best intentions.

Guest

In this episode of humanOS Radio, I talk once again with Dr. Stephan Guyenet, this time about his new book, The Hungry Brain, which was just released this week.

In his book, Stephan addresses the fundamental question of why we overeat. It’s not necessarily for a lack of education on nutrition. Rather, it is due to evolutionarily-conserved circuitry in the brain, which drives us to overeat for short-term pleasure – even when we know it’s at the expense of our health and well-being. In the show, he explains how these circuits work to regulate energy intake and body fatness.

Much of this is based on physiology and genetic predispositions – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. We also discuss things you can do to manage these primal impulses in a fattening world, and make sure that your daily behaviors are in alignment with your health and weight goals.


Feeding Time // Diabetes Reversal // Weight Maintenance

Here is a recap of some of the most interesting stories in science and health that we’ve been reading and discussing this week – focusing on regulation of body fat and blood sugar.

First, a group of Japanese researchers demonstrated how circadian misalignment, caused by shifted feeding patterns, can wreak metabolic havoc. Perhaps more importantly, they uncovered what precisely is happening inside of the brain and body to cause this.

Next, we look at an English study, which revealed a way to that we might be able to put diabetes in remission – without drugs.

Finally, we all know that losing weight is hard, and keeping it off can be even harder. Does the struggle ever get easier? This experiment determined that is you keep the weight off for a year, your body adjusts to help you maintain the new weight.


Science Recap: Fructose, Fitbits, Antibiotics and the Microbiota, and More

Here is a recap of some of the most interesting science and health information from the past few weeks.

This week, we learned from Dr. Arya Sharma about a recent study suggesting that Fitbit may indeed be useful for enhancing physical activity. Dr. Sharma also highlighted research showing that sleep loss and circadian misalignment can have a significant detrimental impact on insulin sensitivity.

Next we turn to Dr. Adel Moussa of Suppversity, who showed that artificial sweeteners might cause rodents to put on weight – though this study arguably raises more questions than it answers. In a separate post, Moussa also reveals how fructose, surprisingly, might actually help you keep your post-workout appetite under control.

Finally, Aeon published a fascinating video in which Dr. Martin Blaser explains vividly why microbial diversity in the human gut is crucial to our health – and how abuse of antibiotics may be silently decimating that ecosystem.