A recent study published in Nature Metabolism from PREDICT, finally has the answer to your constant hunger pangs. The research revealed people who experience big dips in blood sugar levels, several hours after eating, end up feeling hungrier and consuming hundreds of more calories during the day than others. A research team from King's College London and health science company ZOE (including scientists from Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Nottingham, Leeds University, and Lund University in Sweden) found why some people struggle to lose weight, even on calorie-controlled diets, and highlight the importance of understanding metabolism when it comes to diet and health.
The team collected detailed data about blood sugar responses and other markers of health from 1,070 people after eating standardised breakfasts and freely chosen meals over a period of two-weeks. The breakfasts were based on muffins containing the same amount of calories but varying in composition in terms of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fibre. The participants also participated in a fasting blood sugar response test, to measure how well their body processes sugar.
Researchers also recorded levels of hunger and alertness using a phone app, along with exactly when and what they ate over the day. After analysing the data, the team noticed that some people experienced significant “sugar dips” 2-4 hours after this initial peak, where their blood sugar levels fell rapidly below baseline before coming back up.
While big dippers saw a nine per cent increase in hunger, and waited around half an hour less, on average. Big dippers also ate 75 more calories in the 3-4 hours after breakfast and around 312 calories more over the whole day than little dippers. This kind of pattern could potentially turn into 20 pounds of weight gain over a year.
The study quoted Dr Sarah Berry from King's College London as saying, “It has long been suspected that blood sugar levels play an important role in controlling hunger, but the results from previous studies have been inconclusive. We have now shown that sugar dips are a better predictor of hunger and subsequent calorie intake than the initial blood sugar peak response after eating, changing how we think about the relationship between blood sugar levels and the food we eat.”
Professor Ana Valdes from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham, who led the study team, said: "Many people struggle to lose weight and keep it off, and just a few hundred extra calories every day can add up to several pounds of weight gain over a year. Our discovery that the size of sugar dips after eating has such a big impact on hunger and appetite has great potential for helping people understand and control their weight and long-term health."