Brain & body: how the brain helps you get leaner

Chances are you know someone with a really fast metabolism, someone who can eat anything they want, but not gain any weight. Chances are you know someone of the opposite accord, someone who exercises and eats healthy, but can’t seem to lose the weight. What the heck is going on? It’s difficult to lose weight, and the reason is because it’s not just about what you do and put in your body, it’s also about how your brain communicates with your metabolic system. The brain isn’t just the place where we think and perceive, it’s the place where the process of burning and gaining fat begins. It’s the place where our metabolism gets started. And it would all be impossible without the The Central Melanocortin System.

The Central Melano what?! Hang tight. We’ll explain. For starters, let’s call it the CMS for short. The CMS is an ancient biological system that we are just beginning to understand. It is #complicated and is the current undertaking for many neuroendocrinologists (translation: scientists who study the brain & metabolism). 

I spent a couple of days diving deep into the CMS to come up with the most simple of explanations. Here’s what my office spaced looked like as I tried to untangle the science:

Countless hours and many green dry erase makers later, I’ve come up with…

The quick and dirty breakdown:

There are neurons in the brain that respond to different nutrients and hormones in the body. The response that these neurons have lead your body to gain weight, lose weight, or stay where you are.

The hormones involved in the CMS include Leptin, Ghrelin, & Insulin. An active and healthy CMS leads to a healthy body weight. An impaired or insensitive CMS leads to obesity.

Here’s how it works:

Your Ghrelin, Leptin, & Insulin communicate with different neurons in the hypothalamus of the brain. These neurons have the fancy names of POMC and NPY/AgRP.

Leptin and Insulin activate POMC Neurons. POMC neurons tell the brain to activate the anorexigenic or “weight loss neurons.” At the same time they inhibit the orexigenic, or “obesity neurons.” This causes energy expenditure to go up, while food intake goes down.

 

Leptin and Insulin also deactivate NPY/Agrp neurons. NPY/AgRP neurons inhibit the weight loss neurons, causing weight gain. So, when NPY/AgRP is inhibited, the opposite effect happens and the weight loss neurons are more active.

Ghrelin does the contrary. Ghrelin acts on the NPY/Agrp Neurons to deactivate the weight loss neurons, resulting in decreased energy expenditure and increased food intake.

So how can this information help you lose weight?

Well, now you know that what you do to and put into your body influences the signals that go to you brain. In turn, the brain tells the body what to do with those signals: either store fat or burn it. So, how do you make the POMC cells more active and get the weight loss neurons to work away?

The best way is to increase your brain’s sensitivity to those signals, to leptin and insulin. Without sensitivity to these hormones, you can eat healthy all day and workout like a maniac, but never see results.

If you’re experiencing an insensitivity to leptin and insulin you have a couple of options of how to change this: you can fast and try to reset your metabolism or you can go straight to the source of the problem and train your brain. How? By using neurovestibular stimulation, AKA, directly telling the brain to pay attention to your leptin and insulin.

Neurovestibular stimulation

Neurovestibular stimulation hacks the wiring of the brain and tells it to have an efficient metabolism. Some people are born with this sensitive wiring and others aren’t. Think of it this way: some people come out of the womb with an innate skill, like playing music, they are wired for it. But that doesn’t mean that those who aren’t born with this wiring can’t develop it with a little training and become just as talented as the naturally born musician.

This is the same thing we’re doing with metabolism. You deserve to go on a run, eat healthy, and see results, but you can’t do this unless your brain is on track, unless the Central Melanocortin System is active and working.

Our headset that we have carefully crafted with Doctors and Researchers at the University of California, San Diego does just this. Whether you need to lose weight or want to become more fit, this headset is a natural and safe way to hack one of the most ancient parts of the brain and get you the results you deserve.

Until you have one of the devices on your head, a little run and a vegetable smoothie never hurt anyone 🙂 Go be healthy, be active, and get your brain on track.

From my heart & brain to yours,

Hannah

Hannah Heimer
Hannah Heimer

I’m a brain enthusiast and yoga fanatic. I work as a researcher at the University of California, San Diego while also running a yoga business on the side.

I use brain research and yoga as a springboard to blog about lifestyle, health, happiness, and how it all relates to your brain.

Just like the nerve cells in our brains, I love making new connections. So, feel free to reach out. For more info on yoga and the brain, take some time to explore neuroyogini.com.