When it comes down to gaining or losing fat people like to discuss the food which plays an undeniable role in this equation, but there is a bigger piece to the puzzle.
The piece I’m talking about is your brain, which drives your behaviors and habits, especially those pertaining to food choices.
People have a general idea of what constitutes a food that is healthy, versus a food that is unhealthy. Even with that knowledge, and the known risks of a poor diet people feel powerless when around certain foods.
What is it that causes us to have insatiable cravings for certain foods we can’t stop eating, that is what today’s blog is going to be discussing.
More Calories + Less Activity Used To Equal Survival
When it comes down to it we like most animals, yes we are animals too! operate on an optimal foraging strategy.
Optimal foraging strategy is a model that predicts how an animal will behave when looking for food.While food does provide energy, it also takes energy and time to search for, and capture as well.
In terms of basic survival food scarcity provided a large challenge to overcome for our ancestors. Therefor getting as many calories while expending as few as possible to obtain those calories was advantageous.
Our ancestors survived off the land, and had to eat in a cyclical manner with the seasons. The foods we ate were naturally rotated based on the time of year and region we were in.
There were times when denser sources of carbohydrates were available in the form of tubers and fruits, while other seasons only yielded vegetables, if we were lucky!
Nature removed the guesswork and forced us to alternate the foods that we ate. Based on the time of year and region you might have more plants, tubers, fruit or more/less animals to hunt.
When eating the same food for too long we get what’s called palate fatigue, which causes us to seek out foods with new tastes.
This palate fatigue helped us to consume a wide variety of nutrients leading to a more balanced diet. It also served to limit the toxins ingested through food.
Fire helped us to expand the foods that we could consume, and also made it possible for our digestive system to shrink, while allowing our brain to grow larger.
This is all based on the assumption that our ancestors were able to hunt/catch an animal, or were successful foraging. Many times this was not the case.
Body Fat Used To Be An Advantage
Because of famines and food scarcity it was an advantage to have body fat to live off until the next meal, because you never knew how long that was going to be.
Going into the winter months when food was scarce having body fat allowed a greater chance of survival, and helped to insulate the body against the cold.
If our ancestors could gain body quicker than others before winter came, they were able to spend more time looking for mates to reproduce with instead of fattening up.
Someone who could gain fat quicker showed that they were a better provider, and their stock as a potential mate increased.
Anyone who has been in the health or fitness industry knows the best way to gain fat is to eat more calories than you expend and do that on a regular basis, it seems that our ancestors were also keen to that idea as well.
Stay tuned next week as I’ll be posting part two of the series where we discuss how you brain seeks rewards which can drive you food choices and why hyper palatability and how easily we obtain calories plays into this whole equation.
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