The organ called “brain” is still a mystery to the medical world though the advancement in science is fast unfolding its secrets. The brain is the organ which cannot store energy by itself but gives instruction to other organs to store energy in the form of fat. Evolution is indeed a surprise. Now that makes us understand why our body never budges unless we are sustained in our efforts to lose weight. What takes the brain to give signal to lose weight? Let us explore.
Fat Storage is linked to evolution
We were hunter gatherers for thousands and thousands of years. That is the way our body has evolved. Remember the fact that we adopted agriculture and settled as a civilized life (!) only for the past 10000 years at the most. But our evolutionary history stretches more than 5,00,000 years and for most part we were cavemen hunting for food. So the chances of going without food for days are higher and hence the body has evolved accordingly. So whenever we had food (hunted food), the body is evolved to store the fat. When there was no hunting or when the hunting failed, the body would utilize this stored fat. So the energy balance was maintained this way for thousands of years.
Also the body spends over 80% of its energy in digestion and only 20% of energy was spent in physical activities. Since the hunter gatherers stacked and consumed more fat and protein rich food that was predominantly under-cooked, the body spent its major chunk of energy in digesting that. Essentially the metabolism was linked to digestive action of the body most of its time. This is the natural way in which our body has evolved. But since these days the easy to digest food availability has increased, the digestive process is simplified to the body. But since the body has not evolved that way, it begins to store that excess food as fat.
Now suddenly everything changed after we developed civilization and began settling down adopting modern agricultural practices. Food is no more scant. Now our evolution process directly contradicts the ground reality. The brain functions in the same mode as a caveman days and tries to conserve energy and not lose it. Welcome to obesity!
Outsmarting the brain to lose weight
- The signal that good food is coming is a pre-requisite to the brain. Consuming food rich in HDL (good cholesterol) is one of the signals you can send to your brain. A regular dose of HDL gives a signal to the brain to shed the LDL (the bad cholesterol).
- Becoming physically active is another way to signal the brain. But remember that our brain is too smart. The challenge here is the brain will lose more calories in the initial days but begins to conserve energy and lose fewer calories if you repeat the same set of physical activity day-in and day-out. So the smart thing to do is to change our physical activity regimen every week. Simply put, confuse your brain.
- Cutting the amount of carbohydrate and the processed food that are high in sugar can increase craving initially but substituting them with high protein and dietary fat can decrease the cravings as you move forward.
- If your body craves for food never go hungry. Instead eat more food that are rich in fibre content. They can satiate the hunger and can send a signal to the brain that your stomach is full.
- Drink plenty of water. Having green tea regularly in the middle of meals is not only beneficial to the body but it can also reduce hunger pangs.
Dr Maran is an experienced Surgeon in the field of Gastro-enterology. He specializes in Advanced laparoscopic Surgery procedures of the gastro-intestinal (GI) tracts. Dr. Maran is also a leading Bariatric Surgeon in Chennai and has a penchant for addressing problems concerning Obesity.