About 3 years ago I was able to lean down from my usual 205 lb to 185 lb by running every day and doing a caloric restriction diet using MyFitnessPal. Once I got down to 185 lb, I felt like I lost control of my brain. I became very emotionally unstable, beyond just hangry. I started doing things out of character and doing new things I didn’t usually do. I started to drink more alcohol as well which I had cut down on. Over a couple of months, my weight returned at 205.
Recently, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the hip. One of the only real treatments you can do is to lose weight. I have been doing so and have gone for about 211 lb down to 195 lb. I tried doing a fast starting on Wednesday night. Thursday I did a HIIT workout and after had tingling and numbness in my hands and arms and body. I believe this to either have been a shortage of some sort of electrolyte or possibly ketoacidosis in a mild form. I tried to get some electrolytes and went to bed. About 10:30 that night I woke up and was starving and felt like I had weak emotional control and went and ate. The next day I continued to eat as I determined that I needed to stabilize my body state before trying to fast again. However I noticed I felt a little depressed and I wanted to try new things and I had a very strong urge to have some alcohol. I set up a date with my wife and had a couple of glasses of wine. I went over by my calorie limit for the day by a couple of hundred.
My theory is that hunger not only causes hanger, which has been scientifically proven, but also leads the brain to want to try new things and become more emotionally unstable. I think that this would be an evolutionary advantage, as it is a strong incentive to seek out new food sources when your current food source is reduced.
I see sort of a fundamental basic human instinct when I feed my babies Kate and Griffin. When they are hungry, emotionally they panic and start to scream in desperation.
My theory is that this strong emotional instability and desire for new things when hungry is the factor that drives more people to break their diets than just hunger by itself.
I also believe that a similar principle applies to sex. If a person does not get enough sex, they become less emotionally stable and more likely to seek out new things. I think that this is a big driver of affairs and broken relationships.
I think in many ways people are just little organic machines and if you understand what drives this machines, you can have much better self-control. If you don’t understand your own physical machine, then you’ll be driven by forces outside of your conscious cognitive control.
3 thoughts on “Theory on hunger and emotional instability and seeking out new sources of food”
You don’t mention what you were eating and drinking to lose the weight, only that you lost a lot of weight. If you reduced or cut out most fats (e.g. you were mostly vegan), this would likely account for your mental changes, not the hunger or weight loss itself. Your brain is made mostly of fats, and if you do not ingest good fats in high enough amounts, your brain cannot properly create and maintain neuronal cells, nor properly sheath dendrites with myelin, which means they’ll start leaking electrical current, making them all function more poorly. Try experimenting with a ketogenic diet: 50-70% fats, the rest, proteins. As zero carbs as you can get. I went from 220 lbs to 187 lbs in 55 days, never felt hungry, and I never had the ‘chaotic’ brain experiences you discuss in your blog post. I had the best sleep in my life, and a whole host of other positive changes that were due to the brain burning ketones instead of glucose. My guess is the lack of saturated, monounsaturated fats was the cause of your ‘chaotic’ mental changes. Hunger is a thing of the past in ketosis, even if you aren’t eating a lot, because fats are always available to burn and are burned, and they’re also available for cell walls, myelin sheaths, etc.
Scott – very interesting point! I actually have been doing a modified Mediterranean diet. I am trying to be as anti-inflammatory as possible as I was recently diagnosed with hip osteoarthritis. Maybe I was not consuming enough fats though. I have been avoiding all red meat, but eating a lot of salmon. Maybe I need to eat more salmon and avocados and things like that?
Joel, a one or two month experiment won’t do any damage long term. Get the carbs out of the diet entirely if possible, which means some of the things in the Med Diet would be out for now (breads, pastas, …). My keto diet consisted of tuna pouches when I felt hungry, chicken sometimes, and fatty cappuccinos made with frothed heavy cream, butter and coconut oil. Breads and pastas may have been ok in the far distant past, but these days, too much extra stuff is in them, and the grains and so on are not what they were. And frankly, it didn’t do the ancient Egyptians any favors. It’s not a hard diet to be on, and I’m telling you, I have no hunger on it at all once I’ve switched into ketogenesis or close to it. Trying to think of the best resource to read, one thing versus a thousand, but search on the web and see what strikes you as best. With the tuna packets and the fatty cappuccinos, my diet is really simple, cheap and easy to do, leaving zero cooking time. Eating out is simple – steak please. I’m currently adding bone broth soup with cabbage, celery and some other vegetables in it, but they are all extremely low carb items. The key is carbs have to go, primarily any fast carb, even potatoes and rice. Give it a month at least, see how your body responds. Be aware that you may need more salt intake if you start getting muscle cramps or feel like you’re coming down with the flu. Buzz me at my email address and we’ll chat — I’ll see if I can find a good reasonable reference that you can use that won’t take a lot of time, but will give you enough info to try out an experiment.
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