The Neuroscience of Weight Loss

My latest book has just been launched and in breaking with tradition it is not a business book – its title is ‘Find Your Happy Weight – Without a Diet. The Neuroscience of Weight Loss.’


Neuroscience research has led to an important realization: for decades, we have been focusing on the wrong issue, namely on eating less and eating different foods. As counterintuitive as it may sound, this is the main reason why diets show such a low success rate. The problem with diets is not just that they don’t work: there is evidence to show that they actually cause dieters to put on more weight once they have finished with them.

It follows that the first step that needs to be taken is to focus on weight maintenance rather than weight loss. It is more effective to lose weight in small steps and, after each step, invest the time needed to get used to maintaining the new weight. Nobody knows how much time will be needed to learn to maintain the new weight, which makes setting specific targets and deadlines an utterly fruitless undertaking that is likely to derail the overall weight loss effort.

I used the term ‘Happy Weight’, suggesting that we do know when we have reached the weight we feel happy with. Indicators are confidence, feeling physically and mentally good about one’s body, being able to do whatever we want without our weight restricting us and generally feeling happy when we look in the mirror or step on the scales.

This may be less scientific than the widely used BMI – but look around at where that got us!

More scientific are the insights neuroscience has delivered with respect to how to get there: habit formation and changing bad eating habits to good ones; understanding that willpower is a limited resource and ways to refuel willpower and to slow down its depletion; and an understanding of how stress causes weight gain and how we can reduce or even eliminate chronic stress from our life.

There is so much we have learned from neuroscience research that I thought it important to make these learnings accessible to anyone who can make use of them. Rather than going on a diet treadmill people deserve to know how to manage their mind more effectively so they can weaken or eliminate the many drivers that cause them to overeat.

Weight loss is just one of many areas where people at large can benefit from neuroscience insights and I believe it is our responsibility to translate the many research reports and experiments into practical guidelines that allow them to take more effective action. These guidelines will allow them to not only shed weight, but to reach and maintain their Happy Weight without struggle or sacrifice. After all the goal we all share is to have a happy, healthier life. Finding our Happy Weight can make a solid contribution to that!

I am sure you don’t need to lose weight but if you are interested in a neuroscience approach to weight loss then go to and have a look!