Study: High Fat Foods Make You Hungrier

Photo by Per Ola Wiberg

Photo by Per Ola Wiberg

Jackie was doing everything in her power to stay on her weight loss plan, but it felt like her family and co-workers were constantly trying to sabotage it.  Her coworkers were constantly tempting her with cookies, cakes and donuts.  And her husband was not making it any easier.  Last week he brought home a carton of cookies ‘n cream ice cream.  He knew that she was trying to eat healthier and he bought her favorite ice cream! What was he trying to do?!

Even though she had been tempted, she had not touched any of these high fat foods since she went on her diet.  That is because she had very little self control when it came to sweets.  She couldn’t eat just one cookie or one scoop of ice cream.  Even a small taste seemed to unleash something inside her that left her wanting more.  And not just that day. The cravings lingered for a few days afterwards.  What was it about high fat foods that make them so irresistible to her?

A study coming out of UT Southwestern Medical Center may have the answer to that question.  They decided to look at how the brain reacted in relation to the consumption of high fat foods, since they knew that the brain utilizes some of the fats that we eat in its structure.  To find out how the brain reacted to different fats, researchers experimented on animals by exposing them to various types of fat (palmitic acid, monounsaturated fatty acid and oleic acid).  The fat was either injected directly into the brain, infused through the carotid artery or fed to the animals through a stomach tube.

What they found out is that only “palmitic acid” (the saturated fatty acid most commonly found in animals and plants, such as milk, butter, cheese, beef, palm oil and palm kernel oil) had a negative effect on brain chemistry.  Essentially, when this fatty acid entered the brain, it inhibited the effects of leptin and insulin, which are hormones that play an important role in appetite regulation.  These hormones tell you when you are full and thus when to stop eating. In the animals tested, this change in brain activity lasted three days.  This may explain why most people who splurge on fatty foods on Friday night or Saturday are hungrier than normal when they return to work on Monday.

What does this mean?
This means that if you want to lose weight, it is best to avoid or limit your intake of foods high in saturated fat because they may stimulate you to overeat.  These foods have a way of triggering your brain to ignore the signals that you are full.  That doesn’t mean you have to give up fats completely.  What you should do is try substituting products high in unsaturated fats (like olive and canola oil) for one high in saturated fats because the unsaturated fats don’t produce the negative affects on the brain.

Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center (via ScienceDaily)

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Christopher Gaudette and Christopher Gaudette. Christopher Gaudette said: Study: High Fat Foods Make You Hungrier: Jackie was doing everything in her power to stay on her weight loss .. http://bit.ly/jjeW8 […]

  2. Maria Isabel says:

    Good information. I know that the more sweets I eat the more I want. It is better not to eat any or very little.

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