NUTRITIONAL ASPECTS OF APPETITE CONTROL: CARBOHYDRATE

The satiety value of carbohydrate is clearly greater than fat, however this varies according to the type of carbohydrate. Including a low glycaemic index and a high resistant starch or fibre content can all act to boost the satiety value of specific carbohydrate-rich foods.

The relationship between appetite and the commonly reported ‘carbohydrate addiction’ is less clear. This dietary phenomenon supposedly occurs because of a central imbalance in the metabolism of the neurotransmitter seratonin. The consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods is believed to boost seratonin levels, promote satiety and induce a mood calming effect.

Based on this hypothesis, all carbohydrates should be able to satisfy uncontrollable cravings (a baked potato should do the job just as well as a doughnut). However, this is not the case according to Professor Adam Drewnowski from the University of Michigan. He suggests that it is the ‘powerful hedonic synergy’ of fat and sugar that forms the basis of food cravings. In an interesting study, he discovered marked differences in food preferences between men and women. When males were asked to list 10 of their favourite foods, they expressed preferences for meat, fish and eggs. Obese women rated ice cream, chocolate, cookies, dough-nuts and pies high on their list. He concluded that whilst men prefer protein-rich foods, women’s desires tend toward mixtures of sugar and fat. This finding indicates that the term ‘carbohydrate addict’ may be a misnomer and the term ‘sugar-fat addict’ may be more appropriate.

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