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Basal Ganglia Fat DocMuscles #KetonianKing Adam Nally

Habit-Loop Cycle of Weight Gain & Obesity

In my last blog post about willpower, I described habits being neural impulse channels in our brain stimulated by a cue following a path leading to the same outcome each and every time – without exerting much effort. Researchers call the formation of these impulse channels habit-loop cycles.  Much of the original obesity research of the 19th century was conducted by psychiatrists and psychologists recognizing that people had habitual eating patterns.  Because of this, gluttony became the perceived influence of obesity.  This underlying philosophy still permeates the obesity research, treatment and low-carb dietary world today.  Yet, over the last 15 years, I’ve found that the habit-loop cycle is tied to powerful hormone responses. These responses to very subtle and often unknown triggers or cues powerfully drive weight gain, obesity and struggles with willpower.   How does the habit-loop cycle effect you?  Before we can change these habit-loop cycles, we have to understand what they are, and how they were created.

It’s All About That Basal Ganglia

All About That Bass (All About That Basal Ganglia) DocMuscles #KetonianKing

Meghan Trainor tells us that “It’s all about that bass . .  .” However, it’s really all about that basal ganglia. Deep inside our brains, close to the brain stem, at the location where the brain meets the spinal cord, is a little “nub” of neurological tissue called the basal ganglia.  This little nubbin of tissues was identified by the really smart scientists at MIT in the 1990’s as the location where habits are formed and executed.  The brain is – to take a quote from my favorite ogre, Shrek – “like an onion – it has layers!”

The Brain Is Like an Onion

If you picture the outer layers of the brain tissue, those closest to the hair and scalp, you can create a mental image of where our most complex thoughts occur.  When you think up a new invention, create a new way to cook with bacon, laugh at a friend’s joke, or link two complex thoughts about how habits form, you are using these outer layers of the brain.

Brain is like and onion DocMuscles #KetonianKing Habit-Loop Cycle
Like an Onion – It Has Layers! (DreamWork’s Shrek, 2001)

However, our interest today is deeper . . . much, much deeper.  Deep within the center of the brain at the basal ganglia is the location where our automatic behavior originates.  Swallowing, breathing and the startle responses are housed in this little nubbin of brain tissue.  It is this area of the brain that learns to recall and record patterns of neurological thought and stimulating action. This part of the brain has the ability, like the water drops on the mound we discussed last week, to record neural pathways and tracks leading to reduced mental effort and habit.  The basal ganglia even has the ability to store habits while the rest of the brain is asleep.  It is in this location, the basal ganglia, where the habit-loop cycle occurs.

Habits Created by Chunking

The habit-loop cycle is the process where the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine.  The really smart guys at MIT call this “chunking,” and it is the root of habit formation.  There are hundreds of behavioral chunking activities that you and I rely upon every day.  Some of these are as simple as the process you use to squirt toothpaste on your toothbrush before brushing your teeth.  Others are more complex like getting dressed or making a lunch box for the kids.

The Habit-Loop Cycle in Your Car

A habit-loop cycle is performed by this little nubbin of tissue by millions of people every morning.  Take, for example, backing your car out of the garage.  When you first learned to do this, it required huge amounts of concentration – and for very good reason. You’re steering 3000-5000 lbs of steel between a 16 foot garage-door opening into oncoming traffic.  Basal Ganglia DocMuscles #KetonianKing Habit-Loop Cycle

Safely backing your car requires you to open the garage door, unlock the car, adjust the seat, insert the key into the ignition, turn it clockwise, move the rear-view mirror and the side mirrors to visualize any obstacles, put your foot on the brake, put the car into reverse, gently remove your foot from the brake, mentally estimate the distance between the garage and the street while keeping the wheels straight and looking over your shoulder, applying a slight pressure between the gas pedal and the brake, and in some cases, slapping your teenagers hand while they fiddle with the radio dial.

But think about it . . . did you actually put any thought into these actions this morning?  You and I probably did this once or twice today without any additional thought.  It happened because the basal ganglia took over and created a habit-loop out of it.  This routine, repeated hundreds of times, became a habit, requiring very little mental effort.

Your Basal Ganglia Makes You Fat

The habit-loop cycle occurs hundreds and maybe thousands of times throughout our day. It is the cycle that drives hundreds of our activities.  In fact, it is this same cycle, in combination with 30 different hormones, that drives our weight gain or weight loss.  Yes, I said it, your basal ganglia can make you fat.

Habits Make for a Smaller Brain

Your brain will try to turn any regular routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to slow down and conserve effort, energy and fuel. The efficient brain allows us to stop thinking about basic behaviors like walking, breathing and eating. This effort-saving effect of the brain is a major advantage, otherwise our brains would be huge, requiring heads the size of watermelons, or even the size of a water tower, causing their own weather systems.  Your wife will thank you for an efficient brain that is smaller and requires less room. Can you imaging giving birth to a watermelon or a small Chevy?  (Did you notice the size of Shrek and the Donkey’s head? Just say’n . . . )

Habits Are The Root of Behavior

What all this leads to is this – habits, as much as memory and reason, are the root of our behavior.  We often don’t remember the experiences that create our habits. However, once they are created, they influence our action without our own realization. Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit is a great resource for further information on how habits drive our behavior.

The Habit-Loop of Obesity

So, how does all this affect obesity and weight gain?  Let’s, first, look at the habit-loop cycle.  Researcher, Larry Squire, documented the habit-loop through three decades of research.  He and others published numerous articles showing that habits have a cue or trigger that stimulates a routine.  The routine leads to an outcome or reward.  The reward usually satisfies a craving.  Cue-> Routine -> Reward.  What we learn through our studies in obesity is that the reward often stimulates a hormonal response of 1-30 different hormones in brain and body leading to repeat cues or triggers.  The cravings are hormonally driven.  I call it the Habit-Loop of Obesity.

Habit-Loop of Obesity DocMuscles #KetonianKing Adam Nally

 

The Craving is the Key

Human psychology and emotion is the key behind habit creation.  First, there must be a trigger or cue.  Second, the trigger is attached to  a previously experienced emotion or craving tied to the cue.  The key to habit formation is the craving.  The craving is what stimulates the physical routine to occur.  It is an emotion or craving that drives the brain to create the habit. Third, there must be a clearly defined outcome or reward that satisfy the emotion or the craving. The emotion or craving doesn’t have to be associated with hormones, however, in the relm of obesity, it is usually tied together.

I am all about making things easier.  Your brain does it. We all do it.   And, I’m all about trying to help you lose fat and get healthy more easily. Let food be your medicine, let medicine be your food. That’s my mantra and that is as easy and natural as it gets.  But, in our day and age, we don’t always have access to growing and raising our own food.  That’s why my second mantra is – better living through chemistry.  So, I created the KetoKart.  Over the last 15 years of medical practice, I’ve found products and supplements that aid in letting food be your medicine, changing triggers, modifying hormones, and help to satisfy cravings in a healthy way to make your decisions easier.  Go to the KetoKart, see which package works for you and order it.  You’ll thank me.

How do  we change our obesity habits?  Stay tuned for the third part in this series: Fixing the Habit-Loop of Obesity.

So, I want to know . . . which package did you choose?

 

The KetoCure: Now Available for Pre-Order

KetoCure Cover

Pre-order your copy of my new book that will be available on September 26, 2017.  

The ketogenic diet isn’t just a great tool for helping people lose weight and feel their best; it’s also an extremely effective method for treating the common “diseases of civilization.”  The Keto Cure will give readers the prescription they need to heal their bodies by eating plenty of fat and moderating protein and carbs.

I’ve been advocating a low-carb, high-fat diet in my clinical practice for over fifteen years, helping people address their health problems by making better food choices. I teamed up with bestselling low-carb author and podcaster Jimmy Moore  to create a top-50 health podcast espousing the benefits of eating keto.  Now, for the first time, I’ve taken my years of clinical experience, put everything down on paper, and create a how-to guide that details all the ways in which the ketogenic diet can help remedy common ailments.

The Keto Cure details the science behind the keto diet’s effectiveness at treating a wide range of diseases, including:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Epilepsy
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hypertension
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Thyroiditis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • and many more

The Keto Cure also outlines practical tips gleaned from Dr. Nally’s fifteen-plus years in medical practice, as well as Moore’s ten-plus years as a health and wellness podcaster, on overcoming the common pitfalls that people experience when adapting to a high-fat way of eating, including fatigue and keto flu. This helpful information, combined with a wide variety of delicious keto recipes from international bestselling cookbook author Maria Emmerich, makes The Keto Cure a complete resource for healing oneself with the ketogenic diet.

Order your copy today!

How Does Ketosis Help Insulin Resistance & Disease?

How does ketosis help the diseases of civilization? Find out as Dr. Nally answers these and many other pertinent dietary questions this evening.

You can learn more about his multi-vitamin supplement he designed for insulin resistance/diabetic/weight management patients that he mentions in the video here at KetoLiving.com.

You can learn about exogenous ketones that he mentions helps to augment ketosis here at DymaicKetones.com.

Why Be In Ketosis – Part XI: Na-K-ATPase Pump & Insulin

Watch as we talk about how insulin stimulates the Na-K-ATPase pump leading to increased leg edema, varicose veins, bloating, hypertension and swelling.  I see it all the time.  Watch the video to find out why.

Watch further as I, Dr. Nally, answer some of the very common misconceptions and confusing factors about the ketogenic lifestyle, ketosis, supplements and exogenous ketones.   Enjoy!!