Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat Hardcover – February 7, 2017
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
“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
Stephan J. Guyenet, Ph.D. is an obesity researcher and health writer whose work ties together neuroscience, physiology, evolutionary biology, and nutrition to offer explanations and solutions for our global weight problem. He received a B.S. in biochemistry at the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in neurobiology at the University of Washington. He is the author of the popular health website, Whole Health Source, and is a frequent speaker on topics of obesity, metabolism, and nutrition.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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.
1. Extensive review of research relating to eating and obesity, not necessarily in humans.
2. Extensive bibliography of research studies relating to obesity, not necessary related to humans.
3. Clear explanation of the brain's relationship to eating behaviors and the brain itself.
4. Another rehash of how public policy relates to obesity and food manufacturing practices relate to food overconsumption.
What you won't get:
1. A clear explanation of how to apply the above to better manage YOUR eating behaviors and weight.
2. How to setup a diet that will help YOU manage your weight or reduce your weight if you are obese.
3. Sources where YOU can seek additional help if you are having trouble with your weigh or need to lose weightt.
Here is a quick summary of his advice for readers: 1. Don't eat calorie-dense foods. 2. Move more. 3. Get more sleep. 4. Reduce stress.
Thus if you need more detailed advice, then don't buy this book.
Instead subscribe to his blog and Medical News Today, which is free online.
I am returning this book because I have better uses for $20.
On the one hand, I think it’s definitely one of the most persuasive, useful diet books I’ve ever read.
On the other hand, I found it quite boring, for the most part. I’ve always found neuroscience boring. And the focus of this book is neuroscience.
If you’re not motivated to slog through all the neuroscience this book contains, but still want to get its most useful suggestions, I suggest skipping to the last section of the last chapter: the section entitled “Six Steps for a Slimming Lifestyle,” in “Chapter 11: Outsmarting the Hungry Brain.”
Here’s my summary of those steps (note: I’ve parsed the steps slightly differently than he did, even though both of our lists happen to have six steps):
1. Get processed foods out of your house and office space. Throw them in the trash, and don’t buy them, so you won’t be tempted to eat them.
2. Eat simple, whole, uncombined foods, instead of complex, processed, combined foods.
3. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and theobromine (found in chocolate).
4. Make sleep a priority. Sleep enough (ideally around 8 or 9 hours, for most people). Go to bed early. Make your bedroom dark and cool, at night (block all LEDs, cover your window, open your window before bed if it’s hot, and set your thermostat to around 68 or 70 degrees). Get lots of bright, bluish light during the day (ideally from sunlight — or else bright, full-spectrum bulbs), and as little as possible at night (use f.lux, nightlights, etc.).
5. Exercise regularly.
6. Reduce stress.
All of that may sounds like obvious, common-sense advice — and to a large extent, it is.
To me, the key insight from the book is this: Anthropological research shows that humans are not designed to eat complex, combined, rich, highly processed foods. And I’m not just talking about Frankenfoods like Pop Tarts, here. I’m talking about relatively simple foods, that you’d never find in a preagricultural environment, as well: even two- or three-ingredient foods, like french fries, baked potatoes topped with butter, and salted nuts.
Our ancestors, according to the best research, ate one whole food at a time: hunks of roasted meat, globs of honey, whole fruit, simple roasted nuts, and roasted tubers, most of all. Vegetables, grains, legumes, and herbs were rarely eaten (unless nothing else was available), since they offer less nutritional bang for their buck (in terms of nutritional density, processing time, gathering time, etc.).
Our ancestors apparently ate a feast-or-famine diet. When they found honey, they’d drink it by the liter. When they killed a wild animal, they’d eat up to 5 pounds of meat, in a single sitting. When they found an orange tree, they’d eat up to 30 oranges, at a time. And yet, they were slim. However, they didn’t have ready access to all of this food, all the time. Rather, they feasted when they found it, and fasted when they didn’t. (This is a good reason to practice intermittent fasting — at least for natural hunters [i.e., men], rather than natural gatherers [i.e., women] — I would argue, though it’s not discussed in the book.)
There’s actually a term for this style of eating (though it’s not used or emphasized in the book): mono-eating. That is, eating one whole food at a time, to satiety.
And there’s a name for a diet that is composed entirely of mono-eating: anopsology (also not mentioned in the book).
The problem with anopsology, in my view, is that it's entirely raw. I don’t think humans are designed to eat meat (or tubers, or — to some extent — nuts) raw, primarily — and anthropological research agrees with me, on this.
If you’re wondering what the scientific basis is for this guy’s suggestions — that’s what the rest of the book is about.
The most novel/important explanation he provides, however, I’d summarize as this: unnaturally processed/combined/refined/concentrated foods do two things to trick our brains into overeating:
1. Their unnaturally high levels of palatability cause our brain to eat them, even when we’re full, or fully nourished, because they’re just so damned rewarding. What causes these unnaturally high levels of palatability? Concentrating flavors, combining flavors, and —most notably — added sugar, added fat, added salt, and added umami (aka, “savoriness,” “meatiness” — i.e., free glutamate, which is naturally found in cooked meat, but is also found in MSG, soy sauce, yeast extract, mushroom extract, seaweed extract, mono- and diglycerides, and the like).
2. Their unnaturally high levels of caloric density (i.e., ratio of calories to volume) allow us to eat way more calories than we otherwise would, because we can squeeze so many more calories into our stomachs, before our stomachs start to stretch enough to cause us to feel full/satiated. The fiber, water, and protein found in whole foods seem to be key, to filling our stomachs, before we overeat on calories.
What role does salt play in all of this? I’m on the fence about that. On the one hand, I’ve read (via Gary Taubes) that the research linking salt intake to high blood pressure is way overblown. I’ve also read research suggesting that restricting salt intake is much less healthy than eating salt to taste. On the other hand, our ancestors didn’t salt their food — and salting foods (especially potatoes and nuts) makes it way easier to overeat them. On the other hand, our ancestors apparently drank animal blood, which is relatively high in salt — whereas we don’t. And at least some of our ancestors — i.e., the coastal ones — presumably ate salty seafood, on a regular basis. So I’m still on the fence about whether — and to what extent — we should be salting our food. Perhaps I’ll make this my next research project.
Most recent customer reviews
We don’t need anymore chapters about why and how we all became so fat.Read more