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Appetite and Weight Loss

Imagine if you could take a drug that would suppress your appetite and make you feel full and satisfied for a longer period of time.  You would, of course, eat less and much more easily maintain or even lose weight.  Well, there is no reason to take a drug for this:  the answer lies in the foods that you eat.

Many foods actually provide much greater satiefy and greatly control appetite. This is very important when you are losing weight, especially if you are not by nature a person with steely discipline when it comes to eating.  Examples abound, but below we are going to discuss some of the heavy hitters that will help you lose that health-and-hormone-harming spare tire around your midsection.

Let's start with almonds.  Almonds are a counterintuitive choice when it comes to losing weight, because they are calorie dense, i.e. they pack a lot of calories in a small volume due to their high fat content.  However, they have a huge advantage:  they are extemely satisfying of appetite and satiety.  One study of obese women, for example, found that they were able to control their weight just by eating a handful of almonds every day. [1] In other words, just one food can actually make a difference when it comes to appetitie control.

Another example of this is dark chocolate.  One study out of Copenhagen showed that men who first consumed dark chocolate later consumed 15% less pizza, which adds up to a lot of calories. [5]  Participants consumed 100g of dark chocolate and, sorry, but milk chocolate did not produce the same results.  The reason?  Cacao contain compounds that slow down digestion and make you feel fuller longer as well as appetite regulators and cannabanoids.  It's a pro-pleasure pleasing cocktail and dark has more of the chemicals that make a difference.

Other researchers did an even more thorough mapping of appetite to a wide variety of foods in a set of studies in 1995 and 1996. [2][3] The researchers in the lead study gave participants 240 calories of various foods and then queried them on appetite and satiety.  The results were very interesting and a strong key to appetite control.  In fact, they built what they called The Satiety Index that can be used by just about anyone to control overeating.  Here are some of the top foods - and notice that they are both healthy and control appetite - on the Satiety Index per this article on Diabetes Net:

  1. Fish, beef and eggs
  2. Potatoes and oatmeal
  3. Whole grain foods
  4. Beans
  5. Grapes, apples and oranges

In other words, most of the healthy foods are also very satisfying and keep your appetite satisfied for a longer amount of time. An important additional point about this same study is that junk foods were consistently among the worst scoring items on the Satiety Index.  In other words, not only are what I call sugar fat foods, such as cakes and doughnuts, calorie dense but they also leave you feeling less satisfied and more likely to eat again at a sooner time.

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Food is not the only thing that can effect appetite:  there are significant lifestyle factors as well.  One supplement, fish oil, has been found to increase satiety and help satifsy appetite in overweight people. [6]  Eliminating stress is also a critical lifestyle change as chronic stress alters appetitie in most people according to a recent study out of the Netherlands. [4] Stressed out people, especially those sensitive and vulnerable, eat even though aren't truly hungry. And one interesting study found that women - the same is likely true for us guys as well - who eat lunch watching television end up eating more in the afternoon.  Why?  The authors speculate that one has "reduced vividness of the memory of the lunch".  Yet another reason not to fry your brain in front of the tube, eh?

NOTE:  You may want to read my link about the Controversy Regarding Beef and Eggs.

 

CAUTION: If you have a medical condition or are on any medications, please discuss any changes with your doctor first. Certain supplements, foods and even juices can alter absorption rates of certain medications for example. Play it safe.

REFERENCES:

1. North American Association for the Study of Obesity: The Obesity Society Annual Scientific Meeting 2006,"The effects of almond consumption on energy balance in adult females"

2) Eur J of Clin Nutr, Sep 1995, 49:675-690, "A satiety index of common foods."

3) Eur J of Clin Nutr, Dec 1996, 50:788-797, "Interrelationships among postprandial satiety, glucose and insulin responses and changes in subsequent food intake."

4) Obesity, 2008, 17(1):72–77, "Acute Stress-related Changes in Eating in the Absence of Hunger"

5) University of Copenhagen. "Dark Chocolate Is More Filling Than Milk Chocolate And Lessens Cravings." ScienceDaily 23 December 2008. 22 March 2010

6) Appetite, 2008 Nov, 51(3):676-80, Epub 2008 Jun 14, "A diet rich in long chain omega-3 fatty acids modulates satiety in overweight and obese volunteers during weight loss"

 

 

 

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