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What Is Satiety?

By K. Testa
Updated May 17, 2024
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Satiety is the physical sensation of being full after eating or simply not being hungry. Feeling full immediately after eating is normal, but satiety usually lasts beyond one's initial feeling of fullness. Taking advantage of this absence of hunger can often be an effective part of a plan for managing or reducing one's appetite in order to lose weight. Many health professionals discuss satiety as a weight loss strategy — many diets focus on eating more fiber and foods with high water content, for instance. Additionally, some research has indicated failing to feel satiated is linked to taste buds and brain chemistry, which can be controlled by eating specific foods as a counterbalance.

When someone eats to the point of satiety, certain sensors indicate to the brain that he or she is full and should stop eating. Some medical conditions can cause a phenomenon known as early satiety, which means that a person actually feels full before he or she should. This situation could lead to health problems if the person does not eat enough. In most cases, though, overeating is more of a problem and is usually associated with not feeling full early enough.

Many types of weight control programs emphasize, in part, eating a diet of foods low in calories, otherwise known as energy density. Most fruits and vegetables, for instance, are considered low-calorie foods, mainly because of their relatively high water content. Eating these foods, along with certain soups and beverages at mealtime, can encourage one's feeling of satiety. Consuming high-fiber foods and lean proteins is also believed to help one feel satiated sooner.

Dr. David Katz, a Yale University professor and nutritionist, developed a diet based on his unique scientific findings regarding the reasons a person may or may not feel satiated. His research indicated that people overeat because their taste buds and certain brain cells are overstimulated by combining different tastes when eating, such as sweet and salty, for example. According to his research, these combinations often make people want to eat more, but eating something with a single dominant taste can lead to satiety sooner.

There are some differences between these two diet philosophies, but many of the basic principles are the same. In general, both concepts entail limiting one's caloric intake and eating certain types of foods to become satiated sooner. Whether or not someone wants to follow a particular diet, nutritionists normally recommend consuming fiber-rich items, lean proteins, and foods with a relatively high water content regardless. They also suggest engaging in mindful eating and noticing when one is truly hungry, as opposed to eating out of habit, boredom, or some other emotion. This awareness can help someone recognize when he or she reaches satiety.

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