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The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat Kindle Edition
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A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
From an obesity and neuroscience researcher with a knack for engaging, humorous storytelling, The Hungry Brain uses cutting-edge science to answer the questions: why do we overeat, and what can we do about it?
No one wants to overeat. And certainly no one wants to overeat for years, become overweight, and end up with a high risk of diabetes or heart disease--yet two thirds of Americans do precisely that. Even though we know better, we often eat too much. Why does our behavior betray our own intentions to be lean and healthy? The problem, argues obesity and neuroscience researcher Stephan J. Guyenet, is not necessarily a lack of willpower or an incorrect understanding of what to eat. Rather, our appetites and food choices are led astray by ancient, instinctive brain circuits that play by the rules of a survival game that no longer exists. And these circuits don’t care about how you look in a bathing suit next summer.
To make the case, The Hungry Brain takes readers on an eye-opening journey through cutting-edge neuroscience that has never before been available to a general audience. The Hungry Brain delivers profound insights into why the brain undermines our weight goals and transforms these insights into practical guidelines for eating well and staying slim. Along the way, it explores how the human brain works, revealing how this mysterious organ makes us who we are.
“No more a diet book than ‘Anna Karenina’ is a romance novel, but for those interested in the complex science of overeating, it is essential.”
―The New York Times Book Review
"Many people have influenced my thinking on human nutrition and metabolism, but one person stands out as completely altering my understanding of why we get fat. That person is Stephan Guyenet."
― Robb Wolf, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Paleo Solution
“I have followed Stephan Guyenet’s career as a researcher and blogger for over five years and have been impressed with both his objectivity and ability to distill complex information into easily understood explanations.”
― Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint ―Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint
"In a world of increasing information overload, Dr. Stephan Guyenet’s research and writing is like a gem in the rough. He has a remarkable ability to distill the latest scientific research and communicate it in a clear and engaging way, and his level-headed, evidence-based approach sets him apart from the pack."
― Chris Kresser, author of the New York Times bestseller, Your Personal Paleo Code
"A remarkable book that approaches health and weight management not through diet or fitness, per se, but by understanding and combating the urge to overeat. This fun, insightful, and important text will appeal to both science-lovers and fitness fanatics."
― Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Following in the footsteps of Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, Guyenet looks to the structure of the human brain and how it has evolved over time... A helpful guide offering encouragement to those looking for ways to lead healthier lives."
― Kirkus Reviews
"Blending detailed attention to the neurobiology of appetite and genetics with a sweeping view of human evolutionary biology, Stephan Guyenet provides an exceptionally complete understanding of why, despite the prevailing desire to be lean, so few of us are. The lessons of science, spanning decades, are presented clearly, interpreted fairly, and used as the basis for an eminently sensible set of responses. Illuminating, entertaining, and empowering, The Hungry Brain is highly recommended."
― David L. Katz, M.D., Director of the Yale Prevention Research Center and author of Disease-Proof
"The Hungry Brain explains how a modern diet turns us into leptin-resistant junk food seeking zombies. Everyone with an interest in metabolism will enjoy Stephan Guyenet’s engaging and sometimes witty walk through the fascinating world of neurobiology."
―Catherine Shanahan, M.D., author of Deep Nutrition
“Stephan J. Guyenet does a wonderful job explaining what triggers our food cravings and how we can best manage those impulses. The Hungry Brain is necessary reading for anyone interested in optimizing their health and fitness, and for those who consult people on those topics. I highly recommend this book, and commend Stephan Guyenet for this exceptional work.”
―Doug Brignole, Bodybuilding Champion / Former Mr. America and Mr. Universe; Co-author of
Million Dollar Muscle and author of The Physics of Fitness
“If you want to understand why we get fat and how to stay slender, go no further than Stephan Guyenet's The Hungry Brain. Untangling the vast knot of nutrition science using the clear lens of neuroscience, he explains where hunger comes from and why the Western world has been plagued with an epidemic of obesity in the last 40 years. Forget gluttony, forget behavior problems or weakness...we're facing eons of evolutionary pressure leading to unique pressures to overconsume. Guyenet reveals science-based methods to undo this modern trap of overeating and obesity.”
― Emily Deans, M.D., Harvard Medical School instructor of psychiatry and author of the Evolutionary Psychiatry blog
About the Author
- ASIN : B01LXT28ZE
- Publisher : Flatiron Books (February 7, 2017)
- Publication date : February 7, 2017
- Language : English
- File size : 33562 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 300 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 125008119X
- Best Sellers Rank: #165,442 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Guyenet combines neurological expertise with an accessible writing style to explain clearly why so many of us lack the ability to choose otherwise. In simple terms, our brains are finely tuned to an ancestral environment where food was hard to get and much less palatable than it is today. Extremely palatable foods combining sugar, salt, fat and similar ingredients simply didn't exist until recent generations, and consuming them wreaks havoc with our otherwise robust metabolisms. Instincts that normally prevent starvation drive us instead to chronically overeat.
You'll learn about the various structures and chemicals in the brain that govern decision-making and learning in general, and how these apply to food. You'll read one of the most competent descriptions of the fat-storage hormone leptin, how it works and how we become resistant to its effects. Most valuably, you'll learn practical tips for controlling one of life's most difficult challenges: chronic hunger.
Perhaps the most profound and useful insight is that just as overly stimulating foods inexorably drive fat gain, bland foods inexorably drive leanness. Guyenet makes the crucial point that it is not those who are accustomed to a bland diet who suffer from cravings and binges, but those who are accustomed to hyperpalatable foods. Those of us who are serious about controlling their body composition will find that this agrees with our experience, and will make the most of this insight, helped along by Guyenet's memorable explanations and recounting of key experiments.
Guyenet unfortunately wastes a chapter on ill-conceived public policy recommendations. He suggests coercive measures such as increased taxation based on the premise that giving people correct information is not enough to result in healthy choices. He then segues without irony into a chapter of information that you, the reader, can use to make healthy choices.
He also focuses on the brain to the exclusion of the enteric nervous system -- the gut -- and its resident microbiome, where all the neurotransmitters found in the brain are also produced, often in much greater quantity. This is a rapidly emerging field of study, and it is disappointing that he does not even mention the seminal experiments demonstrating obese mice spontaneously becoming lean when populated with gut flora from lean mice. Microbiology is not his specialty, but then neither is sleep science nor the psychology of stress control, topics which he ably summarizes.
More detail on the neural effects of exercise on adiposity would have been welcome. Why, for example, are sprinters lean and muscular but distance runners skinny-fat? What about the hormones ghrelin and orexin and their effect on stimulating appetite? How about insulin resistance and its effect blunting fat metabolism and possible role in Alzheimer's? What about micronutrient deficiency and its roles in promoting hunger even when a satiating amount of calories have been consumed?
But it is not fair to expect him to cover all these topics, and in fact a credit to his skill that we wish he would. This book is not the final word on controlling adiposity, but represents a large and underappreciated piece of the puzzle.
By becoming more aware of my overeating and learning more about being satisfied with lower-palatable foods (in addition to the changes I was already implementing in balancing hormones, drinking more water and being consistent with walking and yoga), I began to drop weight. It was significant enough that people were noticing and asking what I was doing, even before I saw it myself. (I had stopped constantly looking in the mirror.) Six months in and I'm still implementing and tweaking things as I pay more attention to how my body responds to what I eat.
If you're looking for an easy read or an easy answer, keep going. Don't buy the book. BUT if you are looking for serious answers and willing to make changes as you read and understand more, buy this book! Digest it (pun intended) thoughtfully and change yourself.
I had never heard anyone talking about the reward value of food or highly palatable vs less palatable foods in such a way before. These ideas changed the way I see food. Although weight loss is about calories, if you give your body simple foods, not just small portions of highly palatable foods, you'll see much better weight loss results. The experiment where the participants eat bland food and drop weight effortlessly should be shouted from the rooftops. If you've struggled with losing weight, this book will open your eyes.
Top reviews from other countries
I never been obese but I have problems with keeping my weight in a healthy range (my BMI can go up to 26 at times but at the same time I'm not able to eat enough to push it even further, not that I really tried lol).
I'm 41 now and decided that I need to work out what it is that makes me overeat as I want to be healthy.
The thing is I have lactose intolerance that no one ever picked up on as I have very unusual symptoms: I feel extremely hungry a few hours after consuming milk and this can last for about 74 hours.
I stated dieting at 16, ditched milk to save calories and I lost weight very quickly. I started drinking milk because it's healthy and I was ravenous again. After doing that over and over I finally worked out what the problem is at 22.
I avoided milk but still would overeat sometimes as I had weird pain in my stomach. I was diagnosed with excess stomach acid at 18 but wasn't given any treatment. I was too fed up to keep going to doctors and just lived with it. Finally a few months ago I tried ranitidine and it did the trick, I now take a tablet when I'm in pain instead of having an extra sandwich.
So my first issue is that the book does not mention that some people overeat because it relieves their digestive issues.
The over issue that I have with tha book and the author (I read his blog) is how much he doesn't like the idea that carbs make people fat.
Maybe reducing carbs does not work for those who are suspectible to overeat highly palatable food and become severely obese as a result, but it seems it works for those like me and this anecdotal evidence is being totally rejected.
So even when I sort out my digestive issues I still eat large amount of food (not really highly palatable, I mean things like sandwiches or potatoes) and I need to make an effort to reduce the amount I eat for like 4-5 days despite feeling hungry, after that something clicks and slimming become effortless.
But that only happens if I watch out the amount of carbs I eat. If I try that with eating 1600 kcal of toasts with jam and potatoes a day nothing clicks, I continue being hungry and finally go back to eating large portions.
So there were research done and they showed it's nothing to do with insulin. Maybe it's not. But at the same time obese people that went through bariatric surgery stop craving highly palatable food and suddenly prefer salad. Scientists still don't know why this is happening and yet the author does not tell them that it's all on their head. That makes me think the author is biased and that's why I'm only giving 3 starts even though I did enjoy the book and it gave me some insights that I did not come accors anywhere else (I now know that I'm opportunistic eater but not very likely to make an effort to look for food when I'm not hungry and putting sweets into airtight container was enough to stop me snacking every time I went to the kitchen).
I would still recommend this book just be aware of what I mentioned above.
Having heard Stephan on a podcast, I'm pleased to have read the book. He takes a robust scientific approach, without any apparent axes to grind, and genuinely helped my understanding of the subject. At the expense of offering quick fixes / miracle answers, he takes an admirably balanced approach and offers some helpful practical guidance for those in need. Could have benefited - like most books - from tighter editorial oversight.