If you’ve already put on excess body fat, the cure can be a little more challenging than prevention, depending on how overweight you are.
Research has shown that in clinically obese people, the body will vigorously fight to keep the weight on, or put it back on once it’s lost.
When someone loses weight through lifestyle change, the levels of some of our hunger-regulating hormones change, making the individual want to eat more.35
These hormonal changes can persist for over a year.
The body also becomes more fuel-efficient, using fewer kilojoules to do the same work.36
Another hurdle is that the hypothalamus—our hunger control centre—also receives messages from pleasure pathways which influence our eating behaviour.
If we see a food we’ve previously enjoyed, we’ll experience a surge of dopamine (feel good chemical) urging us to eat it.
Worse still, even if we don’t really love the food, we’ll still want to eat it if our brain associates it with a pleasurable experience.
This is known as comfort eating.
If our brain has learnt to associate food with love, affection or reward, then when we are feeling down or lonely we often turn to food in a subconscious attempt to improve our mood.
The impact is heightened with sweet foods.37,38