Sunday, September 21, 2014

Can Running Help Stop You From Eating Junk Food?

My personal favorite
Any of you having a craving for junk food? I do, all the time. In fact as I'm writing this, I am having a huge craving for potato chips.

How do I not succumb to this urge? Well, it seems that people whose brains have a strong dorsal-lateral prefontal cortex (DLPFC) section may have greater self control when it comes to eating behaviour.

What the heck is that?

Well, the DLPFC is near the front portion of your head in case you were wondering. Researchers zapped that area (with a coil placed near the subjects scalps near the hairline) to temporarily decrease brain activity in the DLPFC of the subjects in their study.

Guess what? When the participants were zapped in that area, they had more food cravings and also ate more junk food compared to subsequent tests when they received a sham zap.

With that zap, the participants were almost totally interested in high calorie snacks (Pringles potato chips and milk chocolate in the study).

In fact they mostly ignored the more healthy food options that were also available.

The researchers suggest that improving your DLPFC function can improve dietary self control, prevent obesity and may even help manage Type II diabetes.

How to you make your DLPFC function better? Studies have shown that running and other aerobic exercises are known to enhance DLPFC function. Getting adequate sleep and avoiding alcohol have also been shown to help.

Hmmm, this is strange. When I used to train a lot previously, I would often eat all chipschocolate, drink lots of Coke etc. I thought all that training was supposed to help strengthen my DLPFC??

Now that I'm not racing and training much I would not dare to eat as much for fear of putting on too much weight. I guess after my accident, I've changed my eating habits as well.


Lowe CJ, Hall PA et al (2014). The Effects Of Continous Theta Burst Stimulation To The Left Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex On Executive Function, Food Cravings And Snack Consumption. Psych Med. Sep 76(7): 503-511. DOI: 1097/PSY.0000000000000090.

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