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Satiety: The Science Of Feeling Full

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One of the big hurdles to anyone's weight management plan is feeling hungry. So what do you do? If you do eat, you're probably consuming calories and unbalancing your diet, but if you don't eat, you feel miserable.


Psychologists have investigated the causes of the feeling of hunger and its opposite, satiety. The body uses several different mechanisms to determine how much you should eat. The first is blood-sugar level. If your blood-sugar is low, that is a factor that will lead to hunger. After eating, when your blood sugar rises to normal, or above normal, you will no longer feel hungry. The second mechanism is the slight stretching of your stomach. Your stomach is slightly stretchy, so when it is full it takes up a little more room than when it is empty. There are stretch receptors, little nerves, around your stomach that will signal your brain that you are full. Finally, and most importantly, there are several hormones that travel between your gastrointestinal tract and your central nervous system when you start digesting to signal your brain that you have eaten enough.

So, what practical weight loss advice can be derived from this research?

Take Your Time

First, the release of hormones and the raising of your blood-sugar are not instantaneous. They both depend on your system starting to digest the food you've eaten. Everyone is different, and it may differ depending on the food you decide to eat, but the general guideline is that the feeling of fullness will happen about 15 - 20 minutes after you start eating. In other words, if you eat quickly, you can consume a lot of food before your chemical cues can alert you that you've eaten enough. On the other hand, if you eat slowly and make your meal last about 15 minutes, that will be an accurate gauge of whether you've truly eaten enough.

Carbs, Not Fat

Secondly, your body breaks down nutrients info glucose (blood-sugar) in a certain order. It prefers carbohydrates to convert into energy first because that is their only use. The body prefers to use protein to build and repair muscle and other tissues, but if you don't get enough carbs to raise your blood-sugar, then it will break down protein for energy. Fats are turned into energy last because it is easier to store for future use than to convert it into blood-sugar. So, in general you will feel fuller faster on carbs because they will be immediately used to raise your blood-sugar level. Also remember the opposite end of the spectrum: you can consume a dangerously high amount of fat before feeling full.

If you decide to try a high-protein diet, never try to eliminate carbs altogether because your body will be using protein for energy instead of using it to keep you healthy, and you may be eating too much fat if you're hungry.

Bulky Food

Finally, if you can activate the stretch receptors in your stomach without consuming too many calories, then you'll also feel full. This means that foods that take up a lot of space are good for satiety. Popcorn and ricecakes are excellent examples. You can eat a lot of them without consuming very many calories, and they will expand your stomach enough to make you feel full. Of course, these foods do not contain any significant levels of any nutrients, so they should only be used for snacking, not meal replacement. High fiber foods tend to be bulky, and fiber is non-caloric, so they are an excellent choice for meals (read my article on Fiber, click here). Seeds and nuts are therefore good snack foods. But the best "bulky" low cal food is water. It cannot be compressed or broken down, and it contains no calories. So drink plenty of water to feel fuller without any negative side-effects (see my article on Water, it is amazing what simple water can do.)

New Research

Researchers have put all of this together in a Satiety Index. They ranked every food they could test for the actual fullness felt by human subjects. The categories of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) followed the pattern described above: foods high in carbs scored highest, proteins next, and fats last. Look into the Index yourself, and you may find some surprising results. You'll find that foods that are mostly carbohydrates, like fruits, have differences within the group, so that the same weight of apple or orange is more filling than the same weight of banana, or that gram-for-gram oatmeal is more filling than museli.

There has been recent research into the hormones that trigger satiety, and a pill is being developed to mimic the feeling of fullness. This may work for those who have low levels of these hormones, but not for those who have developed an immunity to their effect. For normal people, it is easier, more healthy (and cheaper) to eat a balanced diet than to trick your body into feeling full, because you will still suffer the ill effects of starvation dieting (see my article on Adaptation, a theory that will change your life.)

In closing, satiety is a natural way for your body to regulate itself. But you have to give it a chance to work properly by eating slowly. A diet high in protein, low in fat, but without sacrificing carbs is a great way to stay in great shape and generally feel full most of the time. Snack on foods that take up a lot of room for few calories, especially water. If you want to lose weight but still feel full, choose foods from the Satiety Index that score higher, you'll find that high-fiber equals high-satiety.

About the Author: David "Mr. Weightless" McCormick is the founder of Weightless Products, the best weight loss program for men. All articles are available in full for FREE, with no banners, no pop-ups and no registration. Wait Less for Weight Loss, visit http://www.weightlessproducts.com

Source: www.isnare.com

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