Body Blog: Why You’re Gaining Weight

Your mind says no, but your body says yes, yes, yes!

About to pop the lid off of that pint of Ben and Jerry’s? Ripping open a huge bag of salty chips? Read this before digging in.

New findings from the University of Texas Southwestern’s Medical Center suggest that the fat found in certain foods actually make their way to your brain before they add the dreaded cellulite to your hips and thighs. Once there, they order the brain to send messages to your body’s cells, telling them to ignore the appetite-suppressing signals that stop us from stuffing our faces (well, sometimes).

And the worst part? This only happens when you’re eating good (read: bad) food, so you’ll end up overeating foods high in calories and fat instead of healthy options like fruits or veggies.

“Normally, our body is primed to say when we’ve had enough, but that doesn’t always happen when we’re eating something good,” said Dr. Deborah Clegg in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, where the study was published this month. “Our findings suggest that when you eat something high in fat, your brain gets ‘hit’ with the fatty acids, and you become resistant to insulin and leptin.” So our brain abandons us, and we’re left with an empty bag of chips (or three) and an unhappy number on the scale the next morning.

According to the study, we can blame this all on palmitic acid, the saturated fat found in butter, milk and beef. While this acid encourages us to keep eating, oleic acid (found in “good fat” foods like olives) has no negative effects on the insulin and leptin activators. So that’s why you’re pretty unlikely to overeat carrots, or celery, or anything else that would prevent you from dreaded weight gain. The study shows that this mechanism is triggered in the brain long before physical effects can be seen on your body.

And the last piece of bad news (as if we need any more)? While conducting the study, researchers found that the palmitic acid often quieted the body’s appetite-suppressing signals for about three days. This explains why you often find yourself starving on Sunday morning even though you and the roommates demolished a pizza pie only a few hours before.

Get a lock for the refrigerator? That’s the only option I see…

Body Blog: New Year, New You
Body Blog: New Year, New You
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