As you continue to consume anything that isn't nailed down, you gain back all the weight you fought so hard to lose except that now, because your brain is primed to pig out, you don't stop there. You keep on stuffing your face and, inevitably, the needle on the scale creeps up higher than ever before. After a few of these diet-binge cycles, your buttons are popping and your zippers are bursting.
"Evolution developed the brain to rapidly respond to a reduction in calories as well as change its programming for the future," Bale explained. "If you were in a famine and came across something calorically dense, your brain will tell you to eat as much as possible and pack on the calories and pounds because there could be another famine coming."
To lose weight, many of us could benefit from reverse engineering this phenomenon out of the brain. Bale speculates this could be done by adding a stress reduction component to every diet.
"Because stress drives the brain pathways that seek out reward, most people seek that reward from high-calorie food. You need to find non-caloric stress releases, like yoga or exercise, to deal with it instead," Bale said, adding that preliminary investigative evidence proving yoga and meditation lead to weight loss comes as no surprise to her.
It may also be worth noting that when scientists like Bale want their furry subjects to slim down, they don't slip hoodia in their water, feed them exclusively grapefruit, or ask them to subsist on baby food. They simply cut back their portion sizes. Funny enough, it always seems to work.
Of course, that's not the point of this study and clearly, a mouse is not a person any more than a laboratory is a fast food joint. But besides getting diet stress under control, eating less is a good take home message for anyone who is looking for the real secret to losing weight.