There are multiple reasons how and why some diets don’t work. Your brain runs your metabolism, which is critical for anybody trying to lose weight. But sometimes, the impact of your brain is not always positive. Dr. Emily Cooper of Seattle Performance Medicine and author of “The Metabolic Storm” explains more.
So the brain can work against you in certain instances?
There is something called “The Selfish Brain” and it happens quite often. In 1921, the first scientist showed that the brain will preserve itself at the expense of the body. Think of it almost like there's a competition sometimes between your brain and your body for glucose which is the fuel created from dietary carbohydrates. Glucose is the fuel that the brain and body needs to function. So, when there's a shortage of glucose, there's a war for fuel.
So, if you’re cutting back on carbs like so many people do, that could be causing a fuel problem?
Your brain will protect itself first because the brain is the CEO of your metabolism. It's in charge of deciding where that fuel goes first, so it takes the fuel first, hence the term The Selfish Brain. The brain takes the glucose to protect itself. But, you're causing an issue that results in limiting the fuel for the rest of your body's systems to function properly.
So it's the rest of your body that will have problems first. For example, you will have less energy and less power when you're working out.
So is it a good thing if the brain protects itself at the cost of everything else?
Yes and no. What happens when there's not enough fuel is that the brain sucks the glucose away from the other parts of the body. It will also suppress the insulin response to glucose. When that happens, glucose doesn't go to your muscles as efficiently, which can actually increase fasting glucose levels and even lead to pre-diabetes.
I know it sounds odd, but this is why not eating enough carbs can actually elevate your blood sugar. You'd think it would lower your blood sugar, but it can do the opposite.
This is why you always talk about eating before exercise.
Yes! This can happen when there's extra stress or a physical demand on the brain or body. When you're properly fueled with enough carbs, if all your systems are working properly, the brain will let the body work efficiently to do what it's supposed to do. Also, with a lack of fuel, you're going to start craving carbs more. That's your brain talking to you. That craving for cake or bread isn't something to ignore.
So if you eat the right amount of carbs, it will help you lose weight too?
Well, it will help your body work more effectively to get to that goal instead of working so hard just to satisfy The Selfish Brain. The body has to come out of that fog before it can work efficiently to do anything that will ever last long term.
Give us a few tips to sum it up.
-Eat carbohydrates with every meal
-Always fuel exercise with carbohydrates
-If you are craving carbohydrates, listen to your body
-As always, get enough sleep