A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
From an obesity and neuroscience researcher with a knack for engaging, humorous storytelling, The Hungry Brain uses cutting-edge science to answer the questions: why do we overeat, and what can we do about it?
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.
Health writer and obesity researcher Guyenet has written a remarkable book that approaches health and weight management not through diet or fitness, per se, but by understanding and combating the urge to overeat. Guyenet wields his degrees in biochemistry and neuroscience as he acts as the reader's guide through a wilderness of raw data; he explains how the brain works, discusses important research, and develops strategies from this information. In 11 chapters organized in a loose, almost anecdotal manner, Guyenet first covers the basics of caloric intake and digestion before examining the chemical reactions behind the pleasure- and calorie-seeking brain and factors in the U.S. diet (such as "food reward" and convenience) that contribute to overeating. Guyenet also discusses the science behind satiety and hunger, complete with various lovely illustrations of brains. The final chapter is crucial, since it synthesizes all the information into a practicum on how to overcome the hungry brain's tendency to overeat; Guyenet provides six clear instructions. This fun, insightful, and important text will appeal to both science lovers and fitness fanatics.
A scientific look at why we overeat, minus the usual fads and pseudo-scientific scapegoating and fear-mongering. I recommend this to anybody trying to understand how to stay or become lean in the modern food environment.