The effect of food structure on satiety

A study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology by Mackie et al. has investigated the effect food structure has on satiety, examining the role of gastric retention and nutrient sensing as indicated by CCK, a hormone excreted in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

The scientists prepared two meals. The first meal, a homogeneous liquid meal, was the control and comprised an emulsion of 27.5 g sunflower oil, 243 g of 1.2% sodium caseinate solution blended together and added to a 200 g solution containing 1.24% sodium caseinate and 10% whey protein isolate, 6.1 g of sugar and vanilla flavouring. The second meal, referred to as the ‘Active meal’ (a mixture of solid/liquid food), was prepared by mixing 88 g of grated Gouda cheese with 73 g of low fat yogurt, served with 339 ml of bottled water. The sodium content of the Active meal was 64 mM whereas the control meal was 20 mM, however the meals contained the same number of calories (67% from fat, 27% from protein and 6% from carbohydrates). The meals were fed to 10 healthy male volunteers aged between 20 and 50 with a BMI between 19 and 30, on separate days in a crossover study. 

Mackie et al. assessed subjective appetite ratings, gastric contents using an MRI scanner and plasma CCK over a period of three hours. The Active meal reduced hunger, eliciting a higher fullness score compared to the control meal. Up to about 50 minutes after ingestion, emptying rates of the control meal were more than twice of that for the Active meal and plasma CCK levels were higher. However after this hour both gastric emptying and plasma CCK levels were found to be similar. Mackie et al. report that the Active meal was constructed to provide a sedimenting system, where the food in the stomach separates into two layers. The upper layer is the energy-poor liquid and the other layer being viscous energy-rich sediment. The sediment enters the small intestine first, keeping the energy-poor layer on top. This increases the satiating effect as the volume of the stomach stays larger for a longer period of time, and the small intestine signals an influx of high-energy food. The detection of fat in the duodenum can significantly reduce hunger, increase fullness and delay gastric emptying.

The scientists conclude by stating that appetite was correlated with volume of the gastric contents rather than gastric emptying rates or plasma CCK. They state that this indicates that gastric retention is a key factor in reducing appetite.


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