New Research Shows Why Some People Are Always Hungry

Are you hungry only a little while after eating a meal? A new study shows it has nothing to do with cravings or the old idea of your stomach stretching when you aren’t on a diet. It might all be down to your blood sugar levels.

The study was based on the longest ongoing nutritional research program on Earth, PREDICT. Scientists from King’s College London were looking at why some folks have such a hard time losing weight no matter how strict their diet is. They watched the blood sugar responses of almost 1,100 people for two weeks as they ate more than 70,000 meals with the same amount of calories.

The people in the study wore continuous glucose monitors 24 hours a day and used a smartphone app to report when they were hungry, how alert they were and what they were eating when they ate. As everyone in the study was a healthy adult, eating the same breakfast, it meant that the researchers could pinpoint what they were looking for. Everyone’s blood sugar peaked within the first two hours of eating and then dipped two to four hours after a meal. The people with the most significant drops in blood sugar (who the researchers called big dippers) had a 9 percent increase in hunger. They ate their next meal 30 minutes sooner than the little dippers. They also ate 312 calories more calories over the day.

Many people struggle to lose weight and keep it off, and just a few hundred extra calories every day can add up to several pounds of weight gain over a year,” said Prof. Ana Valdes from the Univ. of Nottingham, who led the study team. “Our discovery that the size of sugar dips after eating has such a big impact on hunger and appetite has great potential for helping people understand and control their weight and long-term health.”

Sugar dips are a better predictor of hunger and subsequent calorie intake than the initial blood sugar peak response after eating,” said Dr. Sarah Berry from King’s College London.

This shows that avoiding lows is just as important as preventing the spikes that proceed them and why maintaining normal blood sugar can be so beneficial for your health. One of the researchers, Prof. Tim Spector, said there is a “black box” between diet and health. There was no connection between age, weight or BMI that made people big dippers or little dippers. Men seemed to be more prone to being big dippers than women, but that was the only pattern. That’s frustrating when you are trying to do better for your health.

We know what foods are healthy, but we’re not always sure why. This is another part of the puzzle as to why low GI foods rich in fiber are so helpful to health. If you keep your blood sugar even, you can avoid cravings and hunger pangs. Eating a diet rich in fruit, veggies, nuts and whole grains can help you achieve a healthy diet and stay full.

Banner image: Jesse K. via Unsplash
April 16, 2021
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