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How Much Weight Loss is Possible for You? Ask Your Brain!

Knowing how much weight loss is appropriate and possible for you is one of the very first steps to setting your goals. According to new research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, there are two specific brain networks that have a substantial impact on the success of an effort to drop unwanted pounds.

Research Shows How Much Weight Loss is Possible

The researchers were working to understand if the amount of weight an older adult obesity patient had lost in the previous six months of a behavior-based intervention was associated with the connectivity with two functional networks, FN1 and FN2. Many functional brain networks interact all the time as a part of our daily lives.  That said, the researchers wanted to know about these specific areas and the relationship with overcoming obesity through lifestyle changes.

The study involved the participation of 71 people for a randomized clinical trial. They each underwent MRI scans ahead of the research to determine if FN1 and FN2 would allow the researchers to predict their weight loss and how that would occur.

First, the participants were scanned while in a resting state. They were then scanned again after having received a food-cue task.  At the end of the six-month research period, the data underwent further analysis to conduct a comparison between the weight change the participants experienced and the baseline networks recorded in the MRI.

What the Research Showed

The researchers discovered that while the participants were scanned in their resting state, it was the brain function in FNI – which is associated with sensory and motor skill – that was connected to the amount of weight that would be lost in the six months that followed.  That said, while in the food-cue state, it was the FN2 – which is associated with self-regulation and ability to focus – that was indicative of the amount of weight loss that would occur in the following six months.

According to the researchers, these two different brain bias networks are connected with the individual’s capacity to successfully lose weight.  While in a resting state, there is a sensor-motor motivational bias to seek food.  That said, when processing food cues, a deficit occurs within the executive control and attention network.

What Does This Mean for How Much Weight Loss You Can Achieve?

According to the lead investigator of the study, Dr. Jonathan Burdette, a radiology professor, the findings reveal that there are certain properties to the brain networks of people who are more or less successful at seeing progress on their weight loss ticker. This means that there are indicators in brain function that can dictate how much weight loss you’re likely to achieve when following a lifestyle change-based strategy.