Thinking Yourself Thin

Can you think yourself thin? Maybe! Thus we should try and here’s how.

How your brain functions determines the way you will be able to control the calories you should not be eating. Just eating a good healthy variety of foods while you do it will help your waistline and translate into meaningful weight loss. .

The brain regions of the lateral prefrontal cortex associated with self-control and Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBD) (not to be confused in this article with ‘CBD oil’ or the cannabis plant extract) mindfulness, can control how that part of the brain functions.

The results of the study on the thinking behavior therapy CBD were published in Cell Metabolism on October 18, 2018. With weight loss the hormones leptin and ghrelin, each of which make our body through our metabolism retain weight, change for the better.

The reason you may not notice a change in weight with lowering leptin and ghrelin has to do with the content of the food in your diet. The CBD induced lowering of leptin and ghrelin happens to those who lose, and those who don’t lose. Those who don’t lose typically are eating more calories and calories that are not as healthy. The reason is their mental drive.

“What we found is that in humans, the control of body weight is dependent largely on the areas of the brain involved in self-control and self-regulation,” says Alain Dagher (@alain_dagher), of the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital in Canada. “That area of the brain has the ability to take into account long-term information, such as the desire to be healthy, in order to control immediate desires.”

When you lose, in addition to molding your shape, your metabolism prepares the body for the future. The leptin and ghrelin, are known to trigger the body to eat in a weight-loss setting. Previous research confirms that these hormone levels change rapidly when weight is shed. “Everybody who loses weight sees this change in leptin and ghrelin,” says Dagher. “It is just that some people, for reasons we do not know, are able to maintain their self-regulation (in our terms, keep on our diet and don’t cheat) in the face of that signal.”

To assess the roles these hormones and self-control have in achieving weight loss, the researchers studied 24 subjects from a weight-loss clinic. Prior to starting a standard 1,200 kcal/day weight-loss diet, all participants received a functional MRI study (fMRI) of the brain, which assessed regions including the lateral prefrontal cortex, which is linked with self-regulation, and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex, a brain area involved in motivation, desire, and value.

Subjects were shown pictures of appetizing foods as well as control pictures of scenery. The researchers compared the brain activity response to the food pictures, particularly the high-calorie food pictures, for each subject at baseline, one month, and three months. “When we show pictures of appetizing foods, the ventral medial prefrontal cortex area becomes more active on fMRI,” Dagher says.

Without needing to understand too much, what you need to know is that behind your weight loss successes and failures is a change in the hormones from our gut that regulate how much you can control your bad food urges. During the study, researchers noted that at one month and three months, the signal from the ventral prefrontal cortex went down, and it declined the most in people who were more successful at losing weight. Additionally, the lateral prefrontal cortex signal involved in self-control increased throughout the study.

Imaging studies that look at how the brain lights up around food have proven what was suspected. If we have particularly bad self control, we won’t lose. If we practice brain control (thinking yourself thin) you will be able to resist bad food! “In the fMRI, the self-control area increased its activity and the value area decreased its activity,” says Dagher. “And the amount of change was predictive of successful weight loss.” While all participants lost weight, those who achieved the greatest weight loss had fMRI levels indicating a better ability to self-control. And, at the end of the 3-month study, the hormones ghrelin and leptin were starting to return to baseline, suggesting that a new set point was achieved.

“These results suggest that weight loss treatments that increase self-control, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, medications that prevent addictive behavior, exercise routines that shift addiction from eating to religious adherence to workouts, as well as lowering those hormones may be helpful, particularly when stress is involved in leading to overeating,” “Stress disrupts the lateral prefrontal cortex control mechanism, but you may be able train people to seek a different strategy,” also accoring to Dagher.

At Women’s Health Practice we can measure these hormones, ghrelin and leptin, and see if your strategies to lower them will work.


Suzanne Trupin, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and owner of Women's Health Practice, Hada Cosmetic Medicine, and Hatha Yoga and Fitness

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