There are no fat lions in the pride. Lions eat a diet almost extensively of red meat. They do not get fat from this because they only eat enough to sustain themselves—no more, no less. So at least in the case of the lion it is not so much what they eat as it is how often and how much they eat. They may devour a carcass, but not eat again for two or three days. I find this pattern among most people who do not have a weight problem. Obviously, our metabolism is quite different from a predator as the lion. However, most thin people have a way to turn on and off their switch, which promotes eating. For instance, they are able to eat a very large meal on a Saturday evening, but then be very cautious as to the amount of food they eat for the next consecutive days.

There is only one primary reason that we need to eat: for sustenance or survival. The lion knows this instinctively, as does every living organism. We eat for other reasons also. It is these other reasons that begin to put on the excess weight. After all, these are excess reasons over and above our basic need; therefore, one might expect that these reasons lead to excess weight. In order to sustain life we need food, water, and oxygen. There are no “oxygen manufacturers” around processing different forms of oxygen for us to take in.

We take in food over and above our needs because of multiple factors such as, the sheer pleasure of eating. Texture and taste are important. We also eat as part of socialization. Many of our social and entertainment events revolve around food. This stems from both the physiologic responses food can cause but also the psychological pleasure of having abundance. Some eat above sustenance out of shear habit. Others eat above sustenance because they love everything about eating. They associate great pleasure to everything about food—the taste, the texture; the physiologic effect food gives them. Some eat above sustenance because of depression. They yearn for the up lifting effect food gives them, but the process becomes a non-stop spin cycle. This in itself is a form of addiction to the emotional feeling.

Sustenance foods are those foods we need to survive as a lean being with little excess body fat. Since most of us do not have to live with the likelihood of imminent food shortage, we need not have a lot of stored body fat.
We’re told that it is healthy to eat three square meals a day, with the largest being at dinner. Dinner generally occurs around dusk. In our western culture, this seems to fit our schedules. In accordance with our autonomic brain, this does not make physiologic sense. For our cave dwelling ancestors, hunting and gathering occurred in the morning and the late morning or early afternoon was the time when they would ingest the fruits of their labor. The rest of the time was used to find and/or prepare for shelter from the night. One would not wander off at night. That would be a time of rest under shelter from the elements or predators.

We still possess the same primitive reflexes as we did 50,000 years ago. It is very important when one decides to change their eating habits to understand certain fundamental truths about the programming of our automatic brain and how it affects its response mainly through hormones (as cortisone and adrenaline). One of the primary hormones aside from adrenaline in our typical fight or flight response is cortisol. Whereas adrenaline is more a part of an internal warning system, cortisol has a much more dramatic influence on our daily physiologic functioning and metabolism of food. The adrenal glands release cortisol or hydrocortisone after it receives information from the hypothalamus of possible lurking danger. This hormone follows a circadian rhythm. This means a recurring cycle every twenty-four hours. The brain signals it to peak in the morning and tail off steadily throughout the day reaching its low point in the late evening. That is convenient, because a low cortisol level can make us feel rather sluggish. Why would our body respond in this way? Why would our natural rhythm cause cortisol to peak in the morning? Cortisol causes several things to occur that would enhance one’s ability to fight or flee. It causes an increase of blood sugar. Primitive humans did not have had the luxury of eating breakfast prior to hunting and needed quick reflexes in the morning hours when they hunted and gathered. This natural infusion of glucose was an automatic function and still is today. With cortisol secretion decreasing to its low in the evening hours, it signals a time to rest.

Many diabetics have a spike in blood sugar in the morning. The cortisol peak in the morning leading to an automatic infusion of sugar into the blood explains the quandary many diabetics experience as an elevated morning blood sugar. Since most people are unaware of this physiologic fact, they continue to load up on carbs in the morning, for “energy.” Old standards as donuts and bagels completely overwhelm our system with carbohydrates, of which our body has given us enough. What is happening automatically in our bodies at the time we decide to eat this will set us up for fat storage and increased appetite later on.

The cortisol peak in the early morning is indeed primitive, yet as present today as it was 50,000 years ago. We must consider this piece of our automatic brain. What happens is that since most of us are unaware of what our body does to regulate blood sugar, we fall into the traps that create the different milestones and patterns of obesity. The milestones and patterns of obesity are what lock in our breakfast routines. For example, the milestone of obesity occurring in early childhood usually goes along with high sugar breakfast cereals. Although the cortisol peak actually tempers our craving for sugar in the morning, during early childhood often a habit of giving Captain Crunch, Fruit Loops, or Frosted Flakes creates a temporary good feeling that becomes addicting. If a parent then tries to replace these cereals with “healthier” foods, the crying and tantrums start, which usually ends up by the parent giving in (the genesis of the bribery pattern). The child therefore develops an expectation that all meals, especially breakfast will be one where the sugar is prevalent. The added sugar together with a slight bump in morning blood sugar by the cortisol peak gives an added high.

As I discuss more in my free EBook, Destiny Diet, eliminating breakfast or at least drastically altering intake in the morning hours is more consistent with our physiology.

For this more, and my free EBook, visit my website,

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Glassman began distributing a weekly motivational email message to patients and friends in January 2007. By May 2008, his distribution list had grown so much—as people on the list told others about it—
and interest in his messages had become so high—Dr. Glassman decided to turn his philosophy and advice into a book. That’s how Brain Drain came about. Starting in May 2008, his weekly messages—now distributed to an even larger audience—formed the basis for chapters of this book.
To date, Brain Drain has won in the Spiritual category at the 2009 Los Angeles Book Festival and received honorable mention at the 2009 New England Book Festival. Brain Drain has also been awarded the 2010 Pinnacle Achievement Award for best Self-Help book by NABE and is an Eric Hoffer Award winner.

Through his book, private practice, public appearances, continued weekly messages,and Coach MD (medical coaching practice) Dr. Glassman has helped thousands realize a healthier, successful, and more abundant life.

He lives in Rockland County, NY with his family.