There’s a common dieting myth that if you drink a glass of water before you eat you will feel fuller for longer.
But is there any truth in this? Let’s put the water theory up against the latest idea in the science of dieting.
The new buzzword in dieting is satiety – it’s less about reducing your calorie intake and more about eating foods that will keep you satiated (fuller) for longer.
What drives satiety is a complex mix of psychological and physiological factors including physical stretching of the stomach and small intestine from food and a cascade of release of hormones that feed back into the brain to tell us we are full.
RESEARCH STUDY 1:
Research was carried out at Nottingham University: they took two teams with a love for classic American automobiles and sent them on a road trip through the lonely Nevada desert to see which group would give in to their hunger pangs first.
Both teams were given an identical meal of chicken and vegetables with a glass of water. The only difference was that one team drank the water before they ate, and the other had the water blended with the meal to make a soup.
In the original study the group who ate the chicken and vegetable soup were satiated for 60 minutes more when compared to the group who drank the water before the chicken and vegetable meal.
But why? When we drink a glass of water with our meal our stomach is able to sieve the water from the solids passing quickly from our intestines into the stomach. However, when we combine the water and food in a soup this sieving is prevented and ensures that the water and the nutrients from the food stay together, homogenised, thus entering the intestine at the same time.
Because of the increased volume of the water and solid combined the food stays in our stomach for longer, activating our satiety signals and delaying emptying, which, according to the scientists, can reduce our hunger by up to a quarter!
RESEARCH STUDY 2:
In more research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists put the satiating soup theory to the test. Twelve healthy volunteers consumed three different meals on three separate occasions. The meals were a solid meal, a chunky soup and a smooth soup. Measurements were made after each meal of the rate the food left the stomach and how full the volunteers felt.
The smooth soup was the clear winner by giving the highest rating for satiety, while at the same time had the slowest rate of stomach release.
THE TAKE HOME MESSAGE:
It seems that, as part of a healthy weight-loss diet, soup is a great place to start!