The Hungry Brain - Stephan J. Guyenet

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Lemur
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The Hungry Brain - Stephan J. Guyenet

Post by Lemur » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:38 pm

If you're a scientific / evidence-based type of reader...this book is for you. I'm 2/3rds of the way through the book and can attest to losing 13lbs in March after years of on/off dieting. (n=1)

I recommend this author's blog as well if you want to get a sense of his writing style:
http://www.stephanguyenet.com/

Description from Amazon:

No one wants to overeat. And certainly no one wants to overeat for years, become overweight, and end up with a high risk of diabetes or heart disease--yet two thirds of Americans do precisely that. Even though we know better, we often eat too much. Why does our behavior betray our own intentions to be lean and healthy? The problem, argues obesity and neuroscience researcher Stephan J. Guyenet, is not necessarily a lack of willpower or an incorrect understanding of what to eat. Rather, our appetites and food choices are led astray by ancient, instinctive brain circuits that play by the rules of a survival game that no longer exists. And these circuits don’t care about how you look in a bathing suit next summer.

To make the case, The Hungry Brain takes readers on an eye-opening journey through cutting-edge neuroscience that has never before been available to a general audience. The Hungry Brain delivers profound insights into why the brain undermines our weight goals and transforms these insights into practical guidelines for eating well and staying slim. Along the way, it explores how the human brain works, revealing how this mysterious organ makes us who we are.

Toska2
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Re: The Hungry Brain - Stephan J. Guyenet

Post by Toska2 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 7:56 pm

N=1

I'm going to read this because I seem to be an outlier. I am 5'9" 160 lbs and low teens body fat and have been between 16-35. I eat 1-5 meals a day, iow when I am hungry. It will help me understand everyone else.

7Wannabe5
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Re: The Hungry Brain - Stephan J. Guyenet

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:14 am

Added to my list.

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Lemur
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Re: The Hungry Brain - Stephan J. Guyenet

Post by Lemur » Sun Apr 07, 2019 4:32 pm

Toska2 wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 7:56 pm
N=1

I'm going to read this because I seem to be an outlier. I am 5'9" 160 lbs and low teens body fat and have been between 16-35. I eat 1-5 meals a day, iow when I am hungry. It will help me understand everyone else.
Same here. I've never been obese, and only once or twice have I ever been statistically "overweight." The book helped me quite a bit understand the current obesity epidemic and help me refine strategies to stay lean where I'm at. Some of the book contains things we already know, such as "eat whole foods" and stay away from processed foods, but where the book shines is digging into the science of why. I took away a lot from the book.

7Wannabe5
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Re: The Hungry Brain - Stephan J. Guyenet

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:01 am

As I mentioned in cross-post on other thread, I am about halfway through this book, and I definitely recommend for all readers. Much of the research is equally applicable to general economic decision making, and the author does a very good job of explaining the relevant neuroscience.

Smashter
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Re: The Hungry Brain - Stephan J. Guyenet

Post by Smashter » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:41 pm

+1, awesome book.

For those who just want a taste, Scott Alexander at Slate Star Codex reviewed it

He also wrote a post about how the book helped him sort through willpower and motivation issues more broadly.

A snippet from the SSC motivation blog post:

All of this is standard neuroscience, but presented much better than the standard neuroscience books present it, so much so that it brings some important questions into sharper relief. Like: what does this have to do with willpower?

Not to fanboy too hard, but anything that embeds itself deeply in Scott Alexander's thinking is likely to have value.

7Wannabe5
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Re: The Hungry Brain - Stephan J. Guyenet

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:48 am

I finished the book, and I am instituting some of the suggestions in my current living environment. Very helpful to get better notion of underlying mechanisms related to satiety.

However, the thought I had was that one very important matter the author didn't discuss was the variations in hormonal events experienced by males vs. females as they relate to weight gain and loss, and also placement of fat (he does mention that placement of fat is highly genetically determined.) For instance, the first time in my life I gained a significant amount of weight was while breastfeeding. Rationally I knew that an infant only required approximately 350 extra kilocalories, but I was ravenously hungry all the time. OTOH, I had two female friends who were the stereotypical naturally thin type, and both of them complained to me about their babies literally sucking them dry and flat-chested. Whereas, I clearly recall interaction with recently immigrated from Africa neighbor, who thought she was being friendly by mentioning how my very chubby baby son (now very tall and slim as adult) and I were both very "healthy" looking :lol:

My father and my second sister both weighed over 11 lbs at birth. My mother's doctor prescribed amphetamines during this1960s era pregnancy, because she was ballooning up so huge. In the article that Smashter linked, Scott Alexander mentions the possibility of the Ice Cream Diet, consisting of 3 seven hundred Calorie sundaes each day, and how the "Hungry Brain" book explains why this doesn't work. I worked at an ice cream parlor owned by a friend's parents during high school where I could sample whatever I liked for free, so I recalled that I did lose about 1 dress size the summer before I went to college on the Ice Cream Diet, but then I also recalled that it was really the Ice Cream and OTC Amphetamine (ephedrine) Diet :roll: All the relatively affluent, attractive and intelligent girls I ate lunch with in 1980s high school implemented some variation on this theme. I had asthma, so I couldn't smoke cigarettes on the sly. My best friend would pick me up in her red Trans-Am in the morning, and we would drive through McDonalds and get one small box of cookies, a large black coffee, and also take an Extra Strength Excedrin to get us through the day.

Another book I have been reading recently on how the habits of French women differ from those of American women reminded me of my high school days, because my best friend would also regularly spend $5 to have somebody at a salon just wash and dry her hair for her, as way to release stress ( one of top 6 factors related to weight gain) of simultaneously striving for A in AP Chemistry and dealing with Sexy X-Country Skater Bad Boyfriend. French women have more rituals like this which allow them to release stress in their feminine energy rather than the masculine energy release most Americans, male or female, are more likely to choose.

So, circling around to why this is relevant to a forum on the topic of frugality...I would suggest that spending X hours and $Y per month shopping for lingerie might have similar influence on weight loss for some individuals as spending X hours and $Y per month on participating in sports. Most individuals would likely benefit from some mix (see Men's Clothing thread.)

Frita
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Re: The Hungry Brain - Stephan J. Guyenet

Post by Frita » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:47 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:48 am

However, the thought I had was that one very important matter the author didn't discuss was the variations in hormonal events experienced by males vs. females as they relate to weight gain and loss, and also placement of fat (he does mention that placement of fat is highly genetically determined.) For instance, the first time in my life I gained a significant amount of weight was while breastfeeding. Rationally I knew that an infant only required approximately 350 extra kilocalories, but I was ravenously hungry all the time. OTOH, I had two female friends who were the stereotypical naturally thin type, and both of them complained to me about their babies literally sucking them dry and flat-chested. Whereas, I clearly recall interaction with recently immigrated from Africa neighbor, who thought she was being friendly by mentioning how my very chubby baby son (now very tall and slim as adult) and I were both very "healthy" looking :lol:

All the relatively affluent, attractive and intelligent girls I ate lunch with in 1980s high school implemented some variation on this theme. I had asthma, so I couldn't smoke cigarettes on the sly. My best friend would pick me up in her red Trans-Am in the morning, and we would drive through McDonalds and get one small box of cookies, a large black coffee, and also take an Extra Strength Excedrin to get us through the day.

Another book I have been reading recently on how the habits of French women differ from those of American women...
Ha, I gained 59 pounds, increasing my weight by more than 50% for a twin pregnancy. Post-delivery and a good year afterward people kept asking me when I was due (pushing around a tandem stroller, no less). I also gained weight nursing. My large D cup was sucked down to the small C which I still have. All the excess weight is gone but my hips are definitely wider.

In the Mexican culture, chubby mothers and babies/kids are considered healthy. The ideal woman there is fleshier than here in the US.

As teens, it seems that our bodies were more forgiving of horrendous eating habits. I was athletic and witnessed plenty of binging and purging. People thought nothing of abusing laxatives, No-Doz, etc. and eating absolute garbage in the 1980s. I lived on sugar and processed foods.

I have read that the French women experience fat shaming and have higher rates of anorexia than Americans. It does seem that walking as a transportation and eating smaller portions of real foods are factors as well.

It seems like many women would like some magic bullet to be trim and in good shape. Post-menopause makes it hard, but I can attest that it can be done.

7Wannabe5
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Re: The Hungry Brain - Stephan J. Guyenet

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:37 am

@Frita:

I agree. It just took me a minute to puzzle out the factor that allowed me to lose weight while primarily subsisting on turtle sundaes with extra layer of malt powder, that wouldn't contradict the research in the book. Individuals who naturally burn a lot of calories do so primarily through lots of small movements through the day, and any amphetamine like substance tends towards increasing twitchy movement as well as suppressing appetite. I am definitely not recommending the practice.

The research indicates that 70% of relative obesity is genetically determined, but this determination is spread over more than 100 genetic factors. The obesity epidemic is due to high level of readily available palatable foods in the environment, so the whole curve is adjusted while an individual's place on the curve remains the same.

I was just thinking that it is pretty obvious that genetics would likely determine most of overall relative variability given the quite high level of variability in fat placement between the human genders. Men my age who appear to be slimmer than average still usually have more fat on their bellies than I do , but a man would have to be morbidly obese to be carrying as much bottom fat as I do.

A book on happiness research I read revealed, rather surprisingly, that being overweight has no detectable correlation with average happiness level. So, either the pleasure of eating excess palatable food makes up for the discomfort and social downside of being overweight OR people who naturally have inherently higher happiness chemicals levels also tend towards being higher up on the relative genetic obesity scale, or maybe both to some degree.

oldbeyond
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Re: The Hungry Brain - Stephan J. Guyenet

Post by oldbeyond » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:03 am

I haven't read the book but going by the SSC article, I think Guyenet's and my views mostly overlap. Some would say that it's wishy-washy or blurry, I'd claim that it's rather the case that it's the nutritionistic drive to identify the bad nutrient (be it saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugar, meat or what have you) that is reductionistic. The mirror image of that is the search for the superfood - wether that's açaí, chia seeds or heavy cream. In my experience, people who seem to succeed in improving their diets have a lot in common - all of the highly palatable junk they avoid, that makes up such a large part of the median diet, you know the stuff we all know to avoid. It's unfortunate that this common ground is seldom acknowledged, and that people on other diets come to be seen not as fellow travelers but as enemies.

For me, eating quite a bit of "good" foods, nutrient dense and not binge-able, like vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil, decent meat/fish/legumes and whole grains seem to allow me some "bad foods", mainly refined carbs (pasta!) and chips, along with some candy/cakes at work and at social occasions. I used to be overweight but have stayed below BMI 25 for about a decade now. And I don't really expend willpower to avoid anything, I feel hunger for food, not cravings for junk even if I eat crap occasionally for pleasure. If I eat more in a certain period of time, like candy when it's available at work around Christmas, cravings tend to present themselves.

prognastat
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Re: The Hungry Brain - Stephan J. Guyenet

Post by prognastat » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:34 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA3QavPp1Ho

Is interesting, but very tough to get through. Honestly both guys are kind of annoying in the discussion(suspect this is due to prior interactions colouring the discussion), but you might get something out of the opposing sides of the argument.

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