Why We (Really!) Hate to DietNo wonder we can't resist dessert! We hate to diet because our brains are wired that way. Specifically, it is hunger-sensitive cells in the brain--known as AGRP neurons--that are responsible for creating those unpleasant feelings of hunger that so often lead us to fall off the diet wagon, according to scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia.
Blame it on your brain. To no one's surprise, it is those negative emotions associated with hunger that make it so hard to maintain a diet and lose weight.
And that makes sense from an evolutionary point of view. Our cavemen ancestors didn't have readily-available food. There was no refrigerator or fully-stocked pantry in the cave. But going out to hunt a bison took courage. It involved risk. And a gnawing tummy served as quite the motivator to take that risk and go kill something for the family's dinner.
So when you cut calories or skip meals, the caveman (or cavewoman) in you rears his ugly head, encouraging you to eat.
While the AGRP neurons do not directly drive an animal to eat, they do teach an animal to respond to sensory cues that signal the presence of food. Translation: They make us desire food so those unpleasant hunger pangs will go away.
And it's not just hunger! The Howard Hughes research team, led by Scott Sternson, also found a separate set of neurons in the brain that generate unpleasant feelings of thirst.
The study findings were published in the journal Nature.