It’s Not Your Fault: What Happens in Your Brain When You Are Trying to Lose Weight

Fact: it is easier to gain weight than to lose weight.

If you want to shed some pounds, you will be fighting your own body and mind to do it. There is no one secret to weight loss. You have to watch what you eat and exercise regularly for months and years. Even when you finally reach your goal, maintaining it is another challenge.

That is why dieting rarely works. People who lose weight by counting calories gain the pounds right back almost immediately after.

Dieting Changes How Your Mind Works

There are several reasons why losing weight can be a challenge, but your mind plays a crucial role in all of it. When people go on a diet to lose weight, they restrict the number of calories they consume. This causes changes in your brain that are going to make eating hard to resist.

Some people find success with the help of a weight loss coach who develops a plan based on the client’s nutritional and lifestyle needs. This way, sticking to a weight loss routine will be easier.

woman with small vegetable on her plate

Food Becomes Harder to Ignore

A person who is not on a weight loss journey may find it easier to ignore food even if it is right in front of them. A person who is on a diet, however, will struggle not to notice food within their vicinity.

Scientists have conducted a study and found how caloric deprivation affects the brain. In a paper, they explained that when a person is on a diet, parts of the brain that are responsible for attention, motivation, and reward are activated at the sight of food.

Once the person on a strict diet notices food, it would be impossible not to think about it. The brain will be thinking about food until they finally give in and take a bite.

Food Releases Hormone that Makes You Feel Good

Taking a single bite would not satiate your desire for food. When you go on a diet, part of the neurological changes that your brain goes through involves the release of the hormone dopamine.

Dopamine is responsible for sending messages between your nerve cells. It contributes to the ability to focus or attention, to think, to learn, and to plan.

Dopamine is also called the “feel-good neurotransmitter” because it is associated with feelings of pleasure of satisfaction.

If you are on a diet, you will be tempted to binge-eat all the time. Food, for dieters, triggers the release of dopamine in the body.

The same process takes place when an addict uses a drug.

Satiety is a Feeling

Dieting will also make you desire to eat more food than usual. The levels of leptin, the hormone that is responsible for satiety, in your body goes down when you are on a diet.

Leptin signals your brain to stop eating. So, if the level of leptin in your body goes down, your body does not know when it has had enough food.

A decrease in leptin makes the body think that it has no body fat to burn into energy. That is why dieters experience intense cravings that are difficult to resist. It also increases appetite which makers dieters consume more calories.

Dieting Weakens Self-Control

Dieting and weight loss, in general, require a huge amount of self-control. However, people who are on a diet find themselves having less willpower.

Dieting disrupts the central executive function of the brain. This was proven in one study that looked at the difference in the performance of dieters and non-dieters in four cognitive tasks. The scientists found that non-dieters performed better than dieters.

People who want to lose weight need self-control to shed pounds. However, having the willpower to control what they eat would not come easily. On the other hand, non-dieters have willpower and self-control, especially around food, even if they do not need them.

Losing weight is difficult because your mind and your body make it so. However, this should not dissuade you from trying to shed excess pounds to be healthy.

Knowing how your body works when you are on a weight-loss journey will allow you to make better decisions that will benefit you. When you control the amount of food you eat, you should do so in a way that would not make your body react badly. Dieting, if it is too restrictive, will get you the opposite of the results you want. You may gain more weight and not lose it if you change your eating habits too quickly.

What you need to do is to make gradual changes and make decisions that will improve your health, not just achieve the goal of becoming thin. Most importantly, be kind to yourself.

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