Part Rat

Why is loosing weight easy for me? It may be because I’m part rat.

Scott Jurek, in Eat & Run, writes about the runner’s high and notes that the good feeling from running can be more powerful than food. He describes experiments from psychology/physiology dealing with circadian rhythms. Rats, when suddenly placed on a restricted diet and given free access to a running wheel, will literally run themselves to death if you let them.

The rats in the experiment are suddenly placed on a “diet” and given unlimited access to a running wheel. They are only allowed to eat in a 90 minute window, once per day, during the day, which is strange for a rat. In response to this, the rats will start running in the wheel 2-3 hours right before the meal. And they will increase the intensity of their exercise as their weight continues to fall. On the other hand, if the rat doesn’t have access to a wheel, they will adjust their activity to the level of caloric input.

I’m not a rat, but I feel some kinship with them.

Scott doesn’t speculate much on this, but it looks like a classic case of over-training and a response to hunger to me. Animals that are starving will start to sleep less and become more restless in an effort to locate additional food. This natural response is thwarted in a cage, and the only outlet for that energy is the exercise wheel. Unfortunately, this spells doom for the rat. I read some research papers on this, and one interesting note is that the rat can be saved if it is placed back on an “unrestricted” diet before it loses 25% of its weight.

For me breakfast, snacks, and dessert are virtually the same every day. (I absolutely LOVE the recovery shake after a workout and the trail mix “feeding” at about 3:30.) Only lunch and dinner change much. When I want to shed a few pounds, I just give myself a little less in the snack department. It seems to work without much effort.

This got me thinking though. What if the rats are given unlimited access to a TV?

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