News

Science Says Appetite and Calorie Intake Aren’t Actually Related

Researchers share the surprising disconnect between how hungry we feel and the amount of calories we consume.

woman snacking
News

Science Says Appetite and Calorie Intake Aren’t Actually Related

Researchers share the surprising disconnect between how hungry we feel and the amount of calories we consume.

When hunger strikes, many of us are guilty of reaching for a processed snack that’s been plastered with “light,” “fit,” or “satisfying.” You know, the kinds of words that promise you’ll feel satiated while still fueling your hopes to lose 10 pounds. However, a new study debunks these false health claims by proving there isn’t a direct link between how hungry we feel and the number of calories we consume.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield combed through hundreds of studies—at least 460 scientific studies, in fact—in hopes of discovering how hunger and appetite influence the number of calories consumed. And the results were astonishing. The findings presented minimal evidence supporting a direct correlation between calorie intake and appetite—proving that reaching for one of those supposed appetite-suppressing snacks probably won’t keep you full longer, despite what the packaging reads.

"This will be important to understand how obesity occurs, how to prevent it, and how we need to work in partnership with the food industry to develop improved tests for foods that are genuinely and effectively able to satisfy appetite,” says lead researcher Dr. Bernard Corfe of the Molecular Gastroenterology Research Group.

The reviewed studies relied on self-reporting measurement tools to subjectively determine how hungry each of the participants felt before they dug into their meals. Results revealed that the participants who reported high levels of hunger didn’t necessarily consume more than those who reported lower hunger levels. Since none of the studies explored what exactly influences calorie intake, lead researcher Dr. Corfe declared that more research must be conducted in order to determine these mysterious factors.

For starters, we think that acknowledging psychological and behavioral factors (such as everyday emotions that lead to overeating and weight gain) can help you adopt mindful eating habits for maintaining a healthy weight. And ultimately, if you’re completely famished by the time you do sit down to a meal, there’s a good chance you may overeat. But filling up on wholesome foods packed with protein, healthy fats, and fiber can help keep hunger pangs at bay so that you’re not tempted to reach for one of those phony weight loss snacks. Skip ‘em and turn to Mother Nature instead with these 20 Most Filling Fruits and Veggies—Ranked!