Scientists have designed a fatty formulation that can make you feel fuller for longer. When the fat remains stable in the acid environment of the stomach, it empties into the small intestine more slowly and increases satiety.
“This formulation could be used as an ingredient in new foods to make them more filling, which in turn could help reduce overconsumption of calories,” said Dr Martin Wickham from the Institute of Food Research.
The findings mean it is possible to produce two meals with the same fat content but different satiety effects. So if you’re going to eat fat, it is possible for that fat to be present in a way that makes you feel fuller. The satiating effect lasts for 12 hours after the initial meal.
The most common form of fat in processed foods is an emulsion of finely dispersed oil droplets. If these oil droplets are engineered to remain stable during digestion, this alters the gut hormones that are produced in response to food. These hormones are the signal produced by the gut to the brain to reduce the desire to eat.
Volunteers were fed a fatty test meal comparable in volume to a large conventional meal. The volunteers’ stomachs were imaged in real time until they looked empty. Scientists from the University of Nottingham used an ultra-fast type of MRI scanning called echo-planar imaging.
The unstable emulsion quickly separated into water and fat and the droplets coalesced. The volume of the meal in the stomach emptied rapidly. The watery part of the meal emptied into the small intestine first, followed by the floating fatty layer. After one hour the volume was nearly half that of the stable meal.
The volunteers’ sense of fullness, appetite and hunger was monitored at hourly intervals for twelve hours. The stable emulsion meal made subjects feel fuller, less hungry and have less appetite compared to the unstable meal.
Blood samples were also taken and showed a higher concentration of fatty particles following the stable meal.
“Our research proves it is possible to design oil-in-water emulsions with different behaviours in the gut to influence gastrointestinal physiology and, ultimately, satiety,” said Dr Luca Marciani from the University of Nottingham.
The study was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and published in the British Journal of Nutrition. The Institute of Food Research is an institute of the BBSRC.
Source: Institute of Food Research, UK