Have you ever felt that sweet, fatty foods make you want to eat more in the following days?
You’re not alone! Actually, science has just backed up what we’ve all known for a very long time – what you eat today influences what you will eat for the rest of the week.
Researchers at the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute have now proven that sweetened, fatty food has a direct impact on mice behaviour, making them eat more in the days following the high-fat meal.
This is due to the fact that binge-eating rewires the reward circuits in the brain, programming mice (and, unfortunately, possibly people) to crave more food as their synapse response is modified: Intake of high amounts of sweetened high-fat foods in a short time range primes dopaminergic neurons that then stay in an excitatory stage for a few days.
Dopamine-response neurons are known to function in a broad array of behavioural processes, including mood, reward, addiction and stress and dopamine pathways are involved in various metabolic processes such as hormone release.
Researchers have also found what can prevent this behaviour from occurring: They say willpower is the one thing that can keep us from overeating.
The struggle is real.
Calgary study suggests pigging out on high-fat foods can rewire future behavior
Consumption of palatable food primes food approach behavior by rapidly increasing synaptic density in the VTA
Liu et al., 2016 (PNAS)