A large systematic review (a study of studies) of over 460 studies conducted by British scientists found that there does not appear to be any link between the amount of calories we eat and how hungry we feel. Many of us in the diet and nutrition industry promote meals and foods that prolong hunger or keep us feeling fuller for longer, typically by adding more protein or dietary fibre (particularly what we call “low GI” dietary fibre) into them.
Researchers from Sheffield University discovered that foods marketed as being “appetite suppressing” don’t actually change the number of calories we consume overall because, whilst it is true that these foods do keep us feeling fuller for longer and may prevent earlier snacking, it doesn’t stop us from compensating the lost calories later in the day. Therefore, whilst eating a meal earlier in the day may suppress appetite for a short period of time, there is no evidence that it stops us from eating less calories overall.
What complicates dieting isn’t necessarily the food we eat (although that plays a big part) but the many complex human aspects that surround our day – the behavioural aspects of eating. Our overall calorie consumption is often governed by social aspects such as who we are eating with and what they are eating, our mood at a particular time, shopping habits, what we drink (alcohol, fizzy drinks), snacking in front of the TV despite whether we’re hungry or not, among many others.
Seb is a writer and blogger of food and nutrition. He holds a bachelors and a masters degree in nutrition science, and has studied sports and exercise nutrition at postgraduate level. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and believes passionately that we can all live with a little less meat. He writes for www.veggieandspice.com and www.itsaboutnutrition.com