London: When the going gets tough for dieters, junk food becomes all the more tempting.
Experiments suggest rapid weight loss alters the way the brain handles stress. This means that when dieters are put under stress, even after they finish dieting, they are tempted by fatty foods. So, dieting could actually end up making you fatter.
Researchers looked at the effect of dieting on the brains and appetite of mice. Their food supply was cut by a quarter and they lost up to 15 percent of their weight, reports the Journal of Neuroscience.
There were also important alterations to genes key to stress, while appetite and levels of stress hormones rose, according to the Daily Mail.
The researchers from the University of Pennsylvania then allowed the mice to eat normally and they regained the weight. Initially, the ex-dieters ate similar amounts to mice that had never been put on a diet.
But when the researchers stressed the mice, for example by making noise, the ex-dieters gorged on fatty food.
Researcher Tracy Bale said: "These results suggest that dieting not only increases stress, making successful dieting more difficult, but may reprogramme how the brain responds to future stress."