If you’re looking to lose weight, you might want to consider consuming foods that offer “phantom fullness” — or foods that at least trick your stomach into thinking it is full. Those are the new findings from a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which notes the role that the feeling of fullness plays in determining how satisfied a person thinks they are after eating.
The study took 15 men and fed them all milkshakes, with some of the milkshakes having different thickness levels than the others. The outcome of the study revealed that even though the men were given 100-calorie and 500-calorie shakes of different levels of thickness or thinness, the 100-calorie shake was scored as the highest-perceived shake that gave the most fullness to the study participants — even more so than the 500-calorie thin shake.
In theory, this means that a thicker 100-calorie smoothie could leave a person feeling fuller longer than a thin smoothie that contains a whopping 500 calories. If a person believes they are less hungry one hour after drinking a thick smoothie, chances are they’ll be less likely to reach for more snacks or food when compared to a person who feels hungrier after drinking a thin smoothie — even if the smoothie contained 500 calories.
As reported by New York Magazine, the phenomenon that the study’s authors called “phantom fullness” — the feeling of fullness in a person’s stomach — played a big role in their satisfaction levels, not necessarily the amount of calories and nutrients they have just consumed.
The men in the study had an average age of 22 to 24 years of age. The milkshakes they consumed were 500 mL each and were comprised of 50 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent protein and 30 percent fat. While the macro levels were the same, the thickness and thinness of the milkshakes — along with their calorie contents — differed.
The study participants were given MRI readings that measured the amount of milkshake still left in their stomachs after 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes, 50 minutes, 60 minutes, 70 minutes, 80 minutes and finally, 90 minutes after consumption.
The men were also asked to rate their “oral appetite ratings” on a scale up to 100 points, with 100 meaning they were fully satisfied. As expected, the thinnest milkshake with the lowest amount of calories — only 100 calories — emptied from the stomachs the fastest — after less than half an hour.
Next, the 100-calorie thick milkshake emptied from stomachs in about 44 minutes. The thin 500-calorie shakes emptied from the stomachs in about 75 minutes, while the thick 500-calorie shakes took about 90 minutes to empty from the stomachs. Even though the thick 500-calorie milkshakes took the longest to empty from stomachs, it is notable that the 100-calorie thick shake resulted in more feelings of fullness than a 500-calorie thin shake.
The results mean that a good, thick smoothie thickened up with foods like avocados, protein powders or other lower calorie foods compared to higher calorie fare like ice cream can help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Instead of thin meals like broth — or perhaps in addition to thin soups — folks should consider adding low calorie thick smoothies to their diets.
As noted by the study, thickness is important to people who want to feel full. Therefore, drinking a thick and healthy smoothie could leave people feeling fuller than consuming a high-calorie thin soda.
“However, the viscosity is more important to increase the perceived fullness. These results underscore the lack of the satiating efficiency of empty calories in quickly ingested drinks such as sodas. The increase in perceived fullness that is due solely to the increased viscosity, which is a phenomenon that we refer to as phantom fullness, may be useful in lowering energy intake.”
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