How much food is enough? How can we know if we have had too little to eat, just enough, or too much? It is essential that we would achieve near-optimal solution to these problems, or we would be in trouble.
All animals have solved this puzzle almost flawlessly for countless generations. Have anybody seen an animal who consistently underfed itself, starving to death within environments of caloric plenty? Has anyone ever observed some animal species with individuals consistently overeating thus becoming too fat? More broadly, where has it ever been observed in nature that species in its natural environment either underfeeds or overeats to the point of health compromise? The answer appears to be never.
Animal feeding behavior appears to be regulated by what may be termed the "Law of Satiation": In a natural setting of caloric abundance, animals will consume the correct amount of food needed for optimal function.
While millions of men and women all over the world count their calories, animals never need to consider if they have overeaten or undereaten, as these computations are performed by ingenious innate machinery. Animals eat until they are satisfied and they never compromise their health by undereating or overeating. Those animals that given the opportunity, eat the right amount of food, drink the right amount of fluid, breathe the right amount of oxygen and sleep the right amount of time so they would more likely survive and reproduce.
As you see, animals seem to have a perfectly working system in their body for counting how much food they need to eat. We, humans, are the creation of nature as well and we have the exact same ability. We have just created the wrong environment and gave our body the wrong tools to use that system correctly. If you put the wrong kind of fuel in your car, it wont work properly. If you eat wrong food, you bodies natural mechanisms are disturbed.
Only one group of species on the planet have weight problems and that is us, humans. But we are not somehow doomed to be fat. It just means that we try to conceur the Law of Satiation like we did with the Law of Gravity by building airplanes or rocket ships. But can some man-made food be functioning the same with humans as our natural biological foods?
The hunger thrive is perfectly natural mechanism by nature to ensure survival. Once we have eaten, the hunger subsides. The pleasure of eating declines as we reach satiation, and the discomfort of hunger disappear. Like a well-engineered watch, this mechanism is designed to encourage us to eat the right amount for our needs. But something is clearly awry with this system in modern society. To understand the cause of eating problems we have to know why and how eating is naturally stopped.
There are three primary forces to hunger and they are designed to work together so we dont accidenatally overeat or undereat. These are the key to how the Law of Satiation works.
1. Strech sensation
2. Nutrient sensation
3. The "yowel" circuits
Strech sensation - When we feel hungry we want to eat and the food in our stomach stimulates nerves embedded in our gastrointestinal tissues (stretch receptors). These receptors tell us exactly how much we have eaten, so we feel satiated when enough food is consumed or we will still feel hungry when eating too little.
Nutrient sensation - Our nutrient receptors are able to detect the differences between foodstuffs of caloric densities. Foods differ dramatically in how many calories they contain per unit of weight volume. Raw vegetables contain about 100 calories per pound. Fresh fruits, in contrast, contains about 300 calories per pound. But animal flesh, such as hamburger, contain a whopping 1,200 calories per pound.
Food is composed almost entirely of substances referred to as macronutrients. These include protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber and water. It also contains tiny amounts of micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which have not been associated with satiation.
The hunger drive works in conjunction with stretch and nutrient reception to modulate hunger at about the right amount. But we also have other mechanisms in our body what know if we have to eat more food today because we did vigorous exercise or we have to eat less, because we didnt do much physical activity on the given day. Among most important is a set of amazing neural and hormonal equipment that we refer to as "yowel" circuits. These help us to regulate our food consumption such that our bodies remain healthy and fit despite daily deviations in caloric intake.
The "Yowel" circuits - While the hunger drive is primarily influenced by the amount of sort-term energy stores, the degree of hunger is also influenced by a fat-reserve monitoring system with sensors all over the body. This is system designed to detect the extent of the body´s fat storage and to communicate that information to the feeding centers of the brain. The system is comprised of a set of neural equipment that we have dubbed the "yowel" circuits.
These mechanisms are quiet when a body is within its optimal range. However, should an animal (or person) consistently overeat, fat stores quickly increase. If this continues, these special sensors begin to alert the brain that fat stores have become excessive and are beginning to compromise health and well-being. So these circuits will tell you, "You are over-weight, eat less!"
But can ANY food make these systems to work properly, or we still need the right kind of "gas" to fuel our "tank"?
What has happened to humans in the modern world that has resulted in widespread obesity? How can our calorie-accounting devices suddenly be failing so miserably? How and why do millions exhibit irrefutable evidence that they are eating too much? How is this possible given the elegant design of our bodies, engineered to obey the Law of Satiation?
There is a surprisingly simple answer to these questions, one that will point us to a permanent solution to the problem of weight management.
Artificial concentration - Our modern diet is artificially concentrated, and this artificial concentration causes our calorie-counting machinery to make errors. Specifically, our calorie-counting machinery consistently underestimates the caloric value of artificially concentrated foods, and this inexorably leads to overeating.
Fooling the machine - Our calorie-counting machine is fooled in two ways: through excessive fat intake and through the consumption of refined carbohydrates. Elimination of these foods solves the problem of weight management.
Our modern diet is artificially concentrated with high-fat animal products, oils, sugar, and other refined carbohydrates. Our ancestors rarely consumed 20% of fat, but in modern environment our diet provide typically between 35-80% of fat! Because fat is calorically very concentrated, a high-fat diet has an unnatural degree of caloric density and it causes mistakes by our innate calorie-counting machinery.
Our modern diet also contain plant foods whose fiber has been damaged or partially or completely removed. Fiber is essential to feel satiation. Whole brown rice, for example, contains about 500 calories per pound. White rice is just brown rice with the nonnutritive fiber removed. The same with white bread, pasta, flour.
We are designed by nature to consume the majority of our calories from plants: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, with the fiber in them. We cant use fiber for fuel, but our digestive system does register the presence of fiber.
Fiber increases the amount of strech receptor activity in the gastrointestinal system and thus helps the system to achieve an accurate caloric count. The removal of fiber, however, disrupts this sensitive system, what may result in underestimation of calories consumed.
When fiber is removed there is less bulk per calorie consumed. This means that the stretch receptor activity for that amount of caloric intake has been reduced. With less stretch receptor activity, the mechanisms of satiation signal that more food must be eaten.
A very simple explanation of weight management is this: modern foods pack too many calories into too small a space for us to feel full at the right time
A diet of soft drinks (zero fiber), croissants (almost zero fiber), hamburger buns (almost zero fiber), processed cereals (zero or greatly reduced fiber), white-flour pasta (almost zero fiber), pizza (almost zero fiber), together with cookies, candy and ice cream (zero fiber), is a diet that is extremely deficient in fiber.
This fiber deficiency, together with the modern diet´s high concentration of fat, fools the mechanisms of satiation in most people. This causes consistent overeating and obesity. For that reasn it is essential to understand the mechanics of the Law of Satiation.