Boosting Brain Health Can Help You Lose Weight

We know that diet affects so many aspects of our lives, from heart health to keeping our skin glowing and hair full. And according to Dr. Drew Ramsey, author of Eat Complete: The 21 Nutrients That Fuel Brainpower, Boost Weight Loss, and Transform Your Health, diet has a direct effect on brain health, as well. In his book, Ramsey offers a “food plan designed to deliver optimal brain health by asking eaters to focus on the 21 most important nutrients for brain health, claiming that eating the whole, natural foods that contain the highest concentration of these nutrients will lead to a healthy weight.” According to Ramsey, here are six reasons why.

1. Brain growth equals weight loss

Brain highlighted in blue

Your brain impacts your weight loss success. |

Weight loss and brain health are closely related, and as Ramsey explains, certain natural brain compounds are essential for weight regulation. “Brain health depends on a set of natural brain compounds like the brain growth factor BDNF and the hormone melatonin,” Ramsey said. “These are both critical to weight regulation and the speed of your metabolism. Eating foods that promote the production of these molecules in the brain is key to a healthy weight.”

2. Brain food has fewer calories

Collard greens

Eat for proper brain health. |

Counting calories in hopes of achieving your goal weight has been a trusted practice over the past several decades, but Ramsey says we shouldn’t be going about weight loss in this manner, or for simply shedding pounds alone. “Should you count calories to achieve a healthy weight? Nope. Count brain nutrients,” Ramsey recommends. “Your brain cells are your hungriest so feed them first. The brain burns 20 percent of what you eat. Seeking certain brain nutrients leads an eater to a core of foods that are very nutrient dense, and thus lower in calories.”

3. Less moody eating

Man eating cheeseburger

Better brain health will help you make better food choices. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Ever heard of emotional eating? Whether you’re bummed out about a missed promotion or mourning the loss of a loved one, eating to cope with painful emotions is pretty common, but Ramsey cautions against this. “Better brain health and more mindful eating means less anxiety and a more stable mood. This translates to eating because you love food and are hungry, not because your brain is twitchy from missing key nutrients in your diet,” Ramsey said. “Better brain health is vital to focus, mood, and sleep.”

4. Better bugs in your gut

Bowl of fresh mixed berries and yogurt

Take care of your gut health, too. | Coskun

Having bacteria in our bodies is a vital part of fighting off infections, diseases, and maintaining an overall healthy immune system, so of course, what we eat will impact that. As Ramsey told us, bacteria and other critters in your gut, including yeast, viruses, and parasites, dictate a lot about weight and overall health, and a healthier gut means a healthier brain. “To feed the ‘Good Bugs’ that keep us running lean and healthy,” Ramsey says, “eaters should steer their food choice to more colorful plants, i.e., ‘Eat the rainbow’ and get more fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and kombucha.”

5. No carbage

Whole wheat cereal

Skip the junk food. |

Sure, there are good carbs and there are bad carbs, so it’s important to make sure you’re putting the right stuff into your body. Highly processed foods are no good, most people know that, and Ramsey says, “The healthiest brains have one thing in common. No highly processed foods. This is key because it eliminates the sugars, refined carbs, vegetable oils, toxins, preservatives, trans fats that are the true culprits in our health crisis.” Ramsey recommends opting for meals such as eggs and kale, or a blueberry, kefir, and nut smoothie for breakfast, rather than a low-fat breakfast cereal or toaster strudel.

6. Healthier brains feel full

Man with healthy brain

A healthy brain will help you feel fuller. |

Reaching that moment when you actually feel full, and not overly stuffed, can sometimes be a tough balance to achieve. It often seems that you’re either not nearly full enough, or have eaten way too much and are now uncomfortable. “Eating for brain health gives eaters a nice mix of fats, proteins, and complex carbs that leads to optimal satiety,” Ramsey said. “Feeling full and content is key to a healthy weight.”