Hunger can make you happy

I read an article the other day...

It said the only really, honest-to-goodness weight loss strategy that most people actually could agree on was...

Eating less

The article said, you should start eating about 25% less when you hit your 30's, or so. I was surprised they would publish it, but it seems to ring true for me personally. I really don't eat a whole lot anymore, and it still seems like I eat too much. My slowly eroding body just doesn't need much energy to make it work - I guess.

However, I read about another cool concept that ties in with the 'hungry' factor. Basically, the idea is that hunger makes your body happier, more apt to 'do', and more ready to explore.

There's a lot here, but I've tried to boil the article down to the key points.

Basically, when hungry, your body creates this hormone. This hormone makes you feel better. Versus - When you eat more, and aren't as hungry, your body doesn't produce it as much.

Contrary to the moans of many dieters, being hungry may make you happy. Or, at least, it can be a serious motivator...

When our bodies notice we need more calories, levels of a hormone called ghrelin increase. Ghrelin is known to spur hunger, but new research suggests this may be a side effect of its primary job as a stress-buster.

Researchers manipulated ghrelin levels in mice through a variety of methods, including prolonged calorie restriction, ghrelin injection and a genetic modification rendering the mice numb to ghrelin's effect.

Mice who had limited ghrelin activity seemed depressed. If pushed into deep water they made no effort to swim. When introduced to a maze, they clung to the entryway. And when placed with other mice, they tended to keep to themselves. (These behaviors were reversed when the mice were given a low-dose antidepressant commonly prescribed to humans.)

In contrast, mice with high levels of ghrelin swam energetically in deep water, looking for escape. They eagerly explored new environments. And they were much more social...

Instead, ghrelin motivates and focuses us on getting some F-O-O-D! Stat!

Hunger is not the only stressor that causes ghrelin to rise. Social anxiety can stimulate it as well. When mice were exposed to an older "bully" mouse (think, overbearing boss), ghrelin levels rose and stayed high for weeks.

Maybe that's why, when you're in the 'zone', you don't tend to think about food that much? Maybe your body is focused, alert, and working optimally - without realizing it really is hungry? I don't know... just thinking.



Jason V said...

You First!

Actually, sipping on ice water rather than eat a donut is supposed to be good.

Our Blogs said...

Touche' - I believe you are correct on that one.

For me, though, it's more about not putting stuff inside my mouth when I'm bored and sitting around with nothing to do. So, I suppose chewing on celery would be a better option than potato chips, eh?

Darn it!

InkyFingers said...

This is cool! I've been very stressed the last three weeks, but not unhappy, and have lost 10 pounds. Makes a lot of sense Al, thanks!