We All Scream for Ice Cream
Dieting May Change How the Brain Responds to Stress, Make You Gain Weight
Get those cookies out of my face, or I'm gonna flip out! Sound familiar? According to a new study out of the University of Pennsylvania, dieting increases stress levels, and those with a history of dieting have a significantly greater tendency to eat high-fat foods when stressed out. This suggests that diets actually change how the brain responds to stress and may make crash dieters more prone to weight gain.
In the study, researchers put mice on limited diets that caused them to lose 10 to 15 percent of their body weight, similar to human diet weight loss.
Researchers observed that, while on their diets, the mice dieters had increased levels of corticosterone, a stress hormone, and depression-like behavior. (Maybe that means they just weren't running the wheel with much vigor. Or that some even spent all day watching Days of Our Lives.) In addition, several genes important in regulating stress and eating had changed in the mice. Even after the mice's diets were over, and they were fed back to their normal weight, these genetic changes remained.
To test how these genetic changes affected the mice, researchers put the rodents in stressful situations and examined how much high-fat food they ate. To be a fly on the wall in that room, huh? They found that the mice that had once been on diets ate more fatty foods than the mice that hadn't. Tracy Bale, PhD, the study's lead author says, "These results suggest that dieting not only increases stress, making successful dieting more difficult, but that it may actually 'reprogram' how the brain responds to future stress and emotional drives for food."
This study highlights how hard it is to lose weight and maintain weight loss. And, to think how hard it is for actual humans with the added stress of celebrities saying they "eat pizza everyday." It also shows us that managing stress during and after weight loss may be a critical component to success.
If only a proper diet mandatorily consisted of living in Turks with no deadlines and no Facebook updates from the ex, we'd all be in skinny jeans by March.
Society for Neuroscience (2010, December 1). Yo-yo dieting alters genes linked with stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2010/11/101130171955.htm