By: Jules Connelly, MPH, RD, LD
By definition, satiety is “the state of being satiated or satisfied as one’s appetite or desire.” In other words, satiety is the sense of feeling full after enjoying a snack or meal.
The following list contains factors that affect satiety. These are things that slow down the rate that food leaves the stomach and will help one stay full longer. Here is what you need to know in order to control satiety:
1. Gastric Stretching. This is the first satiety signal. The actual stretching of the stomach after consuming a meal sends a message to the brain, which then tells the body it’s full. When small amounts of food are consumed, the stretching of the stomach is minimal; however, as the volume of food increases, the stretch receptors are stimulated. By drinking water with your meal, one can stretch the stomach out without having to eat more food. Overtime, consistently eating smaller meals will help the stomach “shrink” and less food will be needed to feel full.
2. High-Volume Foods. Recent studies show that eating high-volume foods can help individuals feel full longer than when they eat low-volume foods (such as processed foods and other poor nutritional foods). High-volume foods are those with high water and fiber contents, such as fruits and vegetables. These types of foods increase gastric stretching which can help one feel full and satisfied.
3. Protein and Fat. These nutrients are found in animal foods and can contain fat that slows down gastric emptying, the rate at which food leaves the stomach. Protein and fat both help someone feel full after a meal. Fat found in nuts, seeds, dairy products, and animal products such as meat and poultry are all foods that may slow down digestion. In general, foods high in fat remain in the stomach longer than foods with low amounts of fat. This is because fat is digested more slowly than other nutrients.
4. Amounts of Food. The amount of food eaten can speed up or slow down the digestive process. The larger the meal, the quicker the stomach empties. Smaller meals linger in the stomach longer and keep one satiated
5. Meal Composition. Specific nutrients contain glucose from carbohydrates, amino acids from proteins, and fatty acids from fat. These all act as satiety signals and tell the brain to tell the body it’s full. The brain is very sensitive to the amounts of glucose or blood sugar the body receives from food. Typically, after a meal, blood glucose increases, and the brain responds by releasing neuropeptides, small groups of peptides that act as neurotransmitters; these tell the body it is full and to stop eating.
Amino acids from protein-rich foods also play a short-term role in letting the body know it’s full. The brain uses the amino acid, tryptophan to make the neurotransmitter serotonin tell the body sensations of being satisfied and relaxed. This may be why high intakes of foods containing tryptophan, such as turkey and dairy products, promote both satiety and sleepiness.