Boosting the flavor of your food with calorie-free seasonings and sweeteners may help you feel fuller faster and decrease the amount you eat, according to a U.S. study that suggests this may be a new way to help people lose weight.
“Tastants” — are substances that can stimulate the sense of taste. In a recent study which comprised of 2,436 overweight or obese people were asked to sprinkle a variety of savory or sweet crystals on their food before eating their meals. They used the salt-free savory crystals on salty foods and used the sugar-free sweet crystals on sweet or neutral-tasting foods. The participants didn’t know what the flavors of the crystals were, other than salty or sweet.
The hidden flavors of the savory tastants were cheddar cheese, onion, horseradish, ranch dressing, taco, and Parmesan. The flavors of the sweet tastants were cocoa, spearmint, banana, strawberry, raspberry and malt.
At the start of the study, the treatment group had an average weight of 208 pounds and an average body mass index (BMI) of 34, which is considered obese. After six months of using the tastants, the 1,436 people in the treatment group who completed the study lost an average of 30.5 pounds, and their BMI decreased by an average of five points. In the control group, the average weight loss was two pounds, and the average BMI decrease was 0.3.
Possible reasons for successful weightloss could be:
- The people in the treatment group may have lost more weight than those in the control group, because the tastants made them feel full faster, and they ate less, suggested study author Dr. Alan Hirsh, founder and neurologic director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago.
- Another possibility is that the tastants improved the flavor of bland but healthy foods such astofu and some vegetables, resulting in healthier eating habits.
Sniff your food before you eat it. Chew it a lot. Choose low-calorie foods and season them.
There are a whole host of reasons why tastants would work, but the best hypothesis is that these powerful smells and tastes acted to enhance sensory-specific satiety. They send messages to the brain that say “I’m full.”.
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