When you’re trying to lose weight by cutting down on your food intake your brain  is busy chomping down — on itself.

Researchers from Yeshiva University in New York have found that when a person diets, the sudden loss of nutrients causes the brain to try to conserve energy by devouring its own cells.

As gruesome as this sounds, it’s actually a helpful finding. Our brain’s cannibalism is part of what triggers hunger, so if scientists can figure out a way to stop brain cells from eating themselves, they will probably be able to develop new techniques for regulating appetite.

For now, this discovery helps explain why you feel like such a zombie when you haven’t had much to eat.

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