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Why Do We Ever Stop Eating? Taste, Reward, and Hyperpalatability (Why Are We Hungry? Part VII)
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October 19, 2011
8:44 am
Forum Posts: 2045
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February 22, 2010
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Caution: contains SCIENCE!

In this article, I begin assembling several of the concepts from previous articles. I've linked to them whenever possible—but if you find yourself confused by concepts or terminology, you might find it worthwhile to re-read the series starting from Part I.

(This is part VII of a series. Go back to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, or Part VI.)

Summary: Our Story Thus Far

In previous installments, we’ve established the following:

  • Hunger is not a singular motivation: it is the interaction of several different clinically measurable, provably distinct mental and physical processes.
  • In a properly functioning human animal, likes…
October 19, 2011
9:17 am

Fantastic job on this series! Thanks!

This also explains another observation: sometimes you can get full from reading cookbooks, or rather looking at food porn triggers satiation (your brain expects you to eat the picture the next moment). This of course doesn't induce real satiety.

Also, cooking food yourself rather than having it prepared for you, makes you eat less of it: more sensory contact and increased satiation 'braking' (less novelty/surprise is also a factor of course).

Thanks again!

October 19, 2011
9:28 am
eddie watts

that was a great and epic post, thank you.

also the fact that foods with little nutrition cause no satiety is very interesting and something we all probably "know and recognise" even if the tests or studies have not been found as of yet

October 19, 2011
9:35 am
Paul Jaminet

Great post, JS. Some very important conclusions and great paper finds!

October 19, 2011
9:45 am


That was masterful.

I'll be purchasing the Gnoll Credo as a thank you for this piece alone- although the entire series has been epic.

It's always been interesting to me that, of all the diet debates, whole food protein is consistently unchallenged as the ultimate harbinger of satiation and satiety. Within the 'adequate nutrition' paradigm of satiety, this would seem to be another star on helmet for fatty organ/muscle meats in their claim on the "pound for pound most nutritious food" title. Again, no wonder liver is so satiating.

October 19, 2011
10:16 am
Wayne D Johnson

A masterful series! You will no doubt incur the displeasure of some folks, but having facts and reasonableness on your side should blunt the criticism. And I'm quite certain you won't be defending your positions alone!

Highest Regards,

October 19, 2011
10:22 am

Your essay contained powerful ah-ha-s for me, putting my lifelong binge eating into a meaningful context. I had recently noticed that if I ate a nutritious meal before eating a treat I went a long time before I ate again, but if I ate only junk I never stopped. YOU just helped me understand why. THANKS!

October 19, 2011
10:28 am

Wow. I nominate this: "we can easily understand why certain foods are hyperpalatable: they combine a meaningful amount of hedonic reward with an inability to produce satiation or satiety, resulting in incentive salience that doesn’t decrease as you eat." for concept of the year!!

October 19, 2011
12:16 pm
Sam Knox

This brings to mind Leslie Orgel's Second Rule: "Evolution is cleverer than you are."

October 19, 2011
2:27 pm
becky yo!

Thanks again for continuing this series! This is such good stuff, but I'm afraid it's going to go over most folks heads. I do like the "food with no brakes" analogy. I'll be trying that one on folks I know.

October 19, 2011
3:32 pm

"If you must cheat, cheat with dessert, not a snack" sounds like a good rule or P.S. to add to "Eat Like a Predator." The protein and fat from the meal will apply the "brakes" that the cheat food may lack, the fat from the meal will help to blunt a massive glucose spike that the cheat is likely to provide, and the meal nutrients will help to balance out any anti-nutrients in the cheat. Plus, traditional desserts tend to be high in fat as well as sugar, which would probably help apply the "food brakes," and help blunt the glucose spike as well.

October 19, 2011
3:43 pm

I'm loving this series, JS. Keep it up!

I look forward to my updates each week.

October 19, 2011
4:13 pm
Joe Brancaleone

Great stuff.

And dude, what a great break in the day to see Coltrane and Dolphy in musical conversation. Between that and your defense of mountain biking, you've become my personal hero in the paleosphere. I had a weird habit years ago of doing middle of the night mountain bike rides on local trails with my CD discman playing jazz and stuff like Herbie Hancock and Philip Glass. Pretty epic in moonlit landscapes. Didn't think about cougar sneak attacks though

October 19, 2011
4:19 pm

BTW, any chance you will be extending this series to the darker side of reward and hyperpalatability? Seems to me that much of compulsive overeating and/or food addiction can be explained by "learning" run amuck.

October 19, 2011
6:23 pm

This has been an excellent series of articles. I was having trouble separating the ideas of, "I like steak, and it's good for me." and "I like chips, so... they are good to?"
Understanding incentive salience, hedonic reward, satiation, and satiety really clear this up!

October 19, 2011
6:47 pm

nice job JS--no wonder you're so've pretty much beasted the whole food reward thing.

steak and eggs, man. bloody ass steak. panacea.

one thing i find interesting is how different people react differently to certain foods. for me, if i eat anything sweet it starts a snowball effect that buries me under cartons and carton of ice cream (or whatever). my wife, she loves sweets, but does not EVER EVER overeat. but she doesn't overeat anything.

i think an often overlooked area (even in the paleosphere) is circadian rhythm disorders (disruptions). there are many "clock genes" and "clock cells" in the body and any disruptions to their functioning probably has myriad negative effects that we haven't even begun to scratch the surface of yet. and it's particularly interesting in light of all the studies connecting sleep deprivation with obesity. i've read quite a bit and while there are many theories as to why that might be, i have yet to come across many mechanistic explanations outside of the whole cortisol thing. the entire subject, IMO, has merely been broached, even with the paleosphere's emphasis on sleeping and light exposure. i feel there is more lurking beneath the bedsheets...

i'd also like to see better links between dopamine, reward, and obesity. so far, the literature sucks. there may be a connection but i really dont think it has one single thing to do with this series or maybe even this blog (or others like it except maybe Emily Dean's). there is a huge difference between evolutionary factors that use the dopamine reward pathway to enforce behaviors to propagate a species and being a food addict. the dopamine pathway is also activated by negative behaviors which leads me to believe that we just dont know enough about it to draw any solid lines. one side effect of dopamine agonists (methylphenidate, cocaine, etc.) is appetite loss and weight loss. OTOH there have been many reports of anti-Parkinsonian agents (also effecting dopamine) actually increasing addictive behaviors especially gambling and sex addiction. oh, that dopamine!

October 19, 2011
7:07 pm

this is awesome. this whole series has been awesome. and way to rise above the carbs vs. food reward bickering match out there! each side seems to throw up straw men and knock them down without seriously considering how the other side's ideas, when properly understood, fit in with their own.

this is a fantastic synthesis of many of the great ideas put out there by some more, um, 'strong-headed' paleo bloggers, all of whom are very smart and a bit too stubborn.


October 19, 2011
8:11 pm

it seems redundant to add my own kudos to the ones that went before, but you've certainly earned them! looking forward to the next installment, when you've rested up.

October 19, 2011
9:06 pm
Forum Posts: 35
Member Since:
June 20, 2011
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So, here's where the gap (or maybe I misread) lays in my mind with both the reward theory, and about nutrition.

Given my understanding, that we have a complex system of relience that needs: minerals, protein, carbohydrates (to some degree), and fats all of which perform a function to shuttle said minerals to their correct functions/places; what's to stop someone from taking a "enough" (whatever that limit may be) of multivitamins with salt, etc to provide the body with the correct response?


I know I'm missing something here; but it was the first question to pop into my head.

October 19, 2011
9:22 pm

That's what I'm talking about, JS!
Now I want some traditional, home made chocolate mousse which btw. contains ample amounts of SAFA from eggs, cream, dark chocolate, moderate amounts of sugar and a small amount of complete protein from the eggs.
But if I think about, doesn't this study show that protein+fat(CC) is less satiating then fat+sugar(CM)?

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