Blame it on the blood sugar - recent research suggests those who have big dips in blood glucose hours after eating end up being hungrier and even eating hundreds of more calories during the day!
Nature Metabolism published a study that looked into a real-life setting response to food. This research conducted by health scientists from company ZOE and King’s College London found why you may be struggling to lose weight, even on a calorie-controlled diet. Insights into personal metabolism are essential when looking at overall diet plus health.
What was involved in the study?
- 1070 people ate ‘standardised breakfasts’ and their own choice of meals over two weeks
- This adds up to 8000 breakfasts and a total of 70,000 meals!
- The breakfasts given to the participants were muffins with the same amount of calories; however, they varied in protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fibre.
Detailed data about the blood glucose effects were recorded:
- An oral glucose tolerance test was conducted to measure the participant’s bodily efficiency in processing sugar
- Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) were stuck onto the participants to keep track of blood sugar fluctuations during the study
- Each person also wore a tracker that monitored overall activity levels and sleep
- Hunger and levels of alertness were recorded using an app, along with notes of what they ate during the day and when
The difference between this study and previous blood sugar studies:
Researchers tend to look at the ‘blood sugar peak’ - how the levels fluctuate two hours after eating. However, the data in this study showed some participants had prominent ‘dips’ between 2-4 hours after the first sugar peak. This ‘sugar dip’ meant that the blood levels fell fast below the initial baseline before they came back up.
What does this all mean?
‘Big dippers’, the ones who experienced the more substantial fall in blood glucose, experienced an increase in hunger of 9% and ate their next meal approximately half an hour earlier less than other study participants - even though they ate the same breakfast.
‘Big dippers’ also consumed more in the hours following breakfast, at around 75 calories. Throughout their whole day, this ended up being about 312 calories more than the ‘little dippers’ - essentially a full meal! According to data analysts, this can easily turn into over 10kg of weight gain over the year.
Though fluctuating blood sugar levels have been suspected to be a culprit in increased hunger - this research gives us more insight into how we can control blood sugar to prevent future overeating. If you’re constantly struggling with your weight, it’s time to have a look at controlling those fluctuations that can occur several hours after eating.
Tips for controlling blood sugar:
- Focus on eating quality protein and fats - these will keep you fuller for longer.
- If you’re eating carbohydrates, try and pair them with protein to avoid a blood sugar crash.
- It should go without saying - put the lollies, cake and ice cream down!
- Fill your plate up with whole fibrous foods - i.e. hit your five serves of veggies target every day.
- Stay hydrated - get that h2O in.
- Manage your stress levels during the day.
- Prioritise great sleep.
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Patrick Wyatt, Sarah E. Berry, Graham Finlayson, Ruairi O’Driscoll, George Hadjigeorgiou, David A. Drew, Haya Al Khatib, Long H. Nguyen, Inbar Linenberg, Andrew T. Chan, Tim D. Spector, Paul W. Franks, Jonathan Wolf, John Blundell, Ana M. Valdes. Postprandial glycaemic dips predict appetite and energy intake in healthy individuals. Nature Metabolism, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s42255-021-00383-x
King's College London. "Why some of us are hungry all the time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2021.