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Saturation - A critical contribution to weight control

Saturation - A critical contribution to weight control

How can we control the daily calorie intake?

The Epidemiology of Obesity. A Global Challenge!

What the global epidemic of obesity suggests is that food has been extremely easy to find. Nowadays the problem modern people face is how to stop eating before excessive consumption occurs. Science has found a biological mechanism that define when someone should stop eating, even in situations of abundant access to delicious food. Such a mechanism is saturation!

Pioneering Studies and Recent Discoveries

Scientific exploration of saturation has been developed from physiologically oriented studies. Studies that have depicted concepts such as homeostasis and energy regulation and are at the core of food intake control. Over the years, the contribution of sensors such us psychological and socio-cultural factors has been recognized.

A Critical Contribution to Weight Control

The duration and intensity of saturation are key factors in weight control. This means that saturation is the critical mechanism that allows the proper adaptation of energy intake to energy needs and thus prevents over-consumption of food. Aesthetic influences are richer, psychological mechanisms are more complex, social and cultural determinants are strong.

In fact, people are exposed to the extremely delicious, energy-dense foods found in their affluent "obesity" environment. Under these circumstances, it is important to understand the mechanisms of saturation and, possibly optimize, to facilitate weight control.

Definition and Method

Scientific progress requires precise definitions of concepts and a harmonized use of methods. In ​​saturation research, there are basic definitions (Blundell et al., 2010). "Saturation" is the multidimensional process leading to the termination of an episode of food after its inception.

The "feeling of saturation" is the process that leads to the inhibition of further food intake, the loss of hunger and the increase in fullness after the end of a food episode.

A conceptual framework for examining the many factors that affected these processes was proposed nearly 30 years ago by John Blundell and his team (Blundell et al., 1987) and is regularly updated to incorporate scientific developments.

This framework is known as "The Cataclysm of Satiety".

Nutritional Ingredients and Saturation

Eating any food or drink, even clean water, causes some level of saturation. However, the intensity and / or duration of saturation varies depending on the nutritional content of the food or drink consumed. Total energy content is a critical factor that directly affects saturation.

Saturation varies according to the composition of macro-nutrients, the presence of non-nutrients such as fibers and some other bioactive food ingredients (Tremblay and Bellisle, 2015).

Macro-Nutrients Differ in their Saturation Power.

There is evidence of a specific nutritional hierarchy and dynamic saturation


  • The protein has the highest saturation power
  • Carbohydrates increase the feeling of saturation with respect to dietary fats (Veldhorst et al., 2008). The increase in carbohydrate-based sugar is believed to contribute to satiety.
  • The presence of soluble and insoluble fibers in foods and beverages promotes satiety. Dietary fibers can act on the stomach or intestine, where they affect the occupancy or transit responses.
  • Food fats give more energy per gram than protein or carbohydrates, but paradoxically they produce less saturation.
  • Hormonal factors can make a lot of contribution. For example, appetite stimulating hormone, ghrelin falls to lower levels after intake of a carbohydrate-rich meal after eating a similar high fat meal (Gibbons et al., 2013).

The "Cataclysm of Satiety" recognizes the importance of body fat without fat, which directly determines the metabolic rate for each individual.

The metabolic rate creates a biological basis for food consumption, which regulates all aspects of appetite, including hunger, saturation, and postprandial feelings of saturation (Blundell et al., 2012, Blundell et al., 2015).

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