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Stephan Guyenet, PhD on Why Do Humans Overeat?

Stephan Guyenet, PhD - Peak Human Podcast


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Hello—I’m Stephan J. Guyenet. After earning a BS in biochemistry at the University of Virginia, I completed a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Washington, then went on to study the neuroscience of obesity and eating behavior as a postdoctoral fellow. I’ve spent a total of 12 years in the neuroscience research world studying neurodegenerative disease and the neuroscience of body fatness. My publications in scientific journals have been cited more than 3,600 times by my peers.

Today, I continue my mission to advance science and public health as a researcher, science consultant, and science communicator. My book, The Hungry Brain, was released in February of 2017 and was named one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly and called “essential” by the New York Times Book Review. I am a Senior Researcher at GiveWell and scientific reviewer for the Research Digest. Past clients include the Open Philanthropy Project.

I am the founder and director of Red Pen Reviews, which publishes the most informative, consistent, and unbiased popular health and nutrition book reviews available. I am the primary designer of an innovative course-based body weight management program called the Ideal Weight Program, which is part of the HumanOS platform. I periodically contribute to the scientific literature and I am a review editor at Frontiers in Nutrition.


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  • (11:16) Our brains determine our food intake and regulate our energy expenditure, in a way that works best in our ancestral environment, but not in our modern environment.

  • (24:33) We consume calories for many reasons, hunger being just one of them. Likewise, satiety is just one of many reasons we stop eating.

  • (34:40) As a rule of thumb, eat a diet of omnivorous whole foods that are lower in calorie density.

  • (49:56) Fiber is not an essential nutrient.

  • (58:35) Nutrient-to-energy is important to health, but once you have adequate intake, there’s not much benefit in taking in more.

  • (1:04:46) Most people in the US are more susceptible to obesity than others. Whether or not they actually become obese comes down to the environment they choose.

  • (1:15:31) Blood pressure, on a genetic level, doesn’t typically change as one gets older.

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