If we’re all so smart, why are so we fat? You’ve probably heard a thousand times how important hormones are for weight loss. You probably already know that insulin—aka “the fat storage hormone”—is produced by the body whenever blood sugar rises.
Blood sugar rises the most whenever you scarf down carbohydrates—particularly the high-sugar, high-glycemic processed carbs we Americans love so much.
So the solution is easy, right? Cut out the carbs!
Not so Fast.
But if it’s so easy, then why do so many of us have so much trouble doing that?
Why, in the face of the massive amount of information showing that high-glycemic (high-sugar) carbohydrates contribute to weight gain, heart disease and even cancer, do so many of us continue to binge on the very foods that make us sick, tired, depressed and fat?
Why do we continue to find pasta, cookies, chips, candies, ice cream, cereal and donuts irresistible?
It’s Because Your Brain has Been Hijacked…
The “pleasure centers” in our brains have literally been hijacked.
We’ve lost control of a primitive biological switch buried deep in our brain that controls what we pay attention to, how we act and most importantly, what we eat.
I call this the “impulse control switch” and for most of us, it’s gone completely haywire. We find ourselves eating precisely the things we know we shouldn’t.
One woman described her struggles with junk food this way:
“I’d find myself obsessing about Haagen-Dazs,” she said. “I wasn’t even hungry. But I got excited about driving to the supermarket and buying it. The anticipation turned me on”.
This woman illustrates an important point: eating and the desire to eat are two different things and involve separate mechanisms in your brain.
How does this happen? Simple.
It’s all controlled by a brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine controls pleasure; it basically runs your brain’s “reward circuitry”.
How Your Impulse Control Switch Gets Flipped in the Wrong Direction…
Dopamine’s role is to keep you totally focused on getting things that are critical for the survival of the species – like food and shelter.
When we go after those things, we feel intense pleasure – pleasure fueled entirely by dopamine.
The only problem is that we’ve discovered a few sneaky ways to trick our brains into releasing dopamine to get a fake chemical “high”… for example, with drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.
The “rush” you get from these things is also fueled entirely by dopamine. It’s the biological reason you get hooked.
And, as it turns out, the dopamine factories that ignite when you chug a beer or inject heroin are the exact same ones that fire up when you eat sugar or high-sugar foods!
In fact, some studies have shown that sugar is MORE addicting than cocaine!
With super-addicting food everywhere, our dopamine factories light up like Christmas trees, our brains get hijacked and we become utterly helpless to resist that mouth-watering bowl of buttery pasta!
Have You Been Attacked by a Dopamine Bomb?
Think about drugs, alcohol, skydiving, the internet, porn and sugar. These are literally super-sized versions of everyday experiences. They flood your brain with feel-good dopamine.
Do them often enough and eventually you become desensitized to anything that doesn’t produce the same massive dopamine rush.
This re-programs your brain in a very bad way, leaving you wanting – in fact, needing – more and more of these dopamine-spiking substances to get the same effect.
Translation: your cravings for refined carbs, for sugar and all of the other things that make you sick and fat go through the roof and become almost impossible to resist!
And here’s the catch – for or nearly everyone, repeated exposure disables the impulse control switch that says “enough!”
Can You Really Be Addicted to Food?
The same impulse control switch that drives some people to cocaine addiction also works to make you obsess over rewarding foods.
The more delicious and pleasurable a food, the more attention you give it. The more attention you give it, the more passionately you seek it out.
Unfortunately, these rewarding foods are exactly the ones that spike your blood sugar, cause insulin to soar, and ultimately flip off your fat-burning hormonal switch.
That’s when you become sick and fat.
Dopamine fuels your drive to go out and get Haagen-Dazs or a Cinnabon and its responsible for making you feel like nothing else will satisfy you.
That’s one powerful brain chemical!
Pair that delicious, palatable food with a powerful emotional stimuli—say, that wonderful memory of eating your grandmother’s apple pie—and those powerful associations release so much dopamine that your reward circuits become hijacked.
Willpower doesn’t have a chance.