You made a successful attempt on your 8 week body transformation program this year.  You did all the exercise and ate everything that was on the plan.  Three months later, you’ve stacked on 10kg.  What might be a mechanism behind this?  Overeating from restrictive dieting is thought to cause this.


Researchers Show That Restrictive Dieting Changes the Brain

Researches have shown that restrictive dieting changes the neurochemistry in the brain associated with reward.  Restrictive dieters have an increase reward sensitivity and is associated with Dopamine.  Dopamine is the feel good neurochemical associated with reward (think how you felt when you opened your birthday present).

Compared with low calorie foods, it has been shown that even with a little bit of food restriction predisposes you to prefer high calorie foods.  You get a shot of Dopamine, once you have succumbed to the desire to eat the high calorie food.  After which you have the tendency to overeat and wanting you to overeat in the future.

There is a theory that involves overeating following food restriction affects neural activity associated with food reward.  It then becomes more pleasurable to eat food and more harder to resist.


How Can I Avoid Weight Gain?

Focusing on health rather than food restriction is required for weight maintenance.  By focusing on the aspects of eating a healthy diet and not dieting, it is more constructive in weight loss and long term weight management.



Avena, NM, Murray, s, Gold, ‘Comparing the effects of food restriction and overeating on brain reward systems’, Exp Gerontol. 2013 Oct; 48(10): 1062–1067.

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