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Many of us find it difficult to lose weight or stick to a weight loss plan, and opinion is divided as to why some people struggle more than others. Most scientists agree that there’s no single reason – it’s down to a complex combination of factors including environmental and social influences, and the often deep-rooted psychological nature of our relationship with food. However, research has uncovered a key factor that explains why some people find it harder to maintain a healthy weight than others.  

Do you have a low satiety response? 

Some of us struggle because we have a ‘low satiety response’. This means that we may:  

  • find it harder to satisfy our appetite 
  • have difficulty recognising appetite signals 
  • be more likely to reach for snacks  
  • take longer to feel full after eating  

This can all result in us consuming more calories.  

Those of us who have weaker satiety signals find it especially difficult to follow a restrictive or calorie-counted diet plan, and so find it harder to lose weight on that kind of programme.  

Take the quiz: What’s your satiety level? 

Choose low energy dense foods 

The good news is research [i] also shows that choosing certain types of food – foods lower in energy density (or calories per gram) – can help people with a low satiety response feel more in control of their appetite, and reduce the risk of overconsuming calories, making it easier to lose weight.   

The study, led by Dr Nicola Buckland and a team of researchers at the University of Leeds, examined the role of satiety response in relation to weight loss as part of a major project [ii] exploring the links between energy density, satiety and the psychology of weight control. Researchers compared two groups of female slimmers, one following a typical calorie-counting diet, the others following Slimming World’s Food Optimising plan based on healthy, low energy dense foods, eaten freely. (These low energy dense foods are everyday staples such as fresh fruit and veg, lean meat and poultry, eggs, pasta, rice and fat-free dairy products.)  

The two groups contained people with both low and high satiety responses. The aim was to investigate the impact of low energy dense foods on appetite satisfaction, and the role that feeling satisfied plays in self-control and sticking with a weight loss programme.  

Feel more in control 

Further analysis by researchers found that when people with a low satiety response ate meals based on low energy dense foods (which tend to be lower in fats and sugar, and higher in protein, complex carbohydrates and fibre) they were:  

  • more in control of their appetite and their food choices than when they were given high energy dense meals 
  • able to eat a greater volume of food, while naturally limiting their calorie intake 

Professor James Stubbs from the Leeds research team says:  

“People who have a low satiety response feel less satisfied after eating. They’re more likely to crave high-fat foods, to snack between meals and are generally less able to stick to their plans around food choices – therefore, they’re more likely to consume more calories than people with a high satiety response and find it harder to manage their weight. They’re also less likely to be able to lose weight because of how hungry they feel and how difficult they find it to sustain such a weight loss regime. 

What this research looked at for the first time is how, for those people who have a low satiety response, choosing foods low in energy density could help them feel fuller, limit their calorie intake and so help their weight loss.”  

Eat more to lose weight

How Slimming World can help 

Dr Jacquie Lavin, Head of Research and Scientific Affairs at Slimming World, contributed to the study. She says:  

“The findings suggest that encouraging slimmers to base their meals on generous amounts of low energy dense foods is likely to have a protective effect, helping them manage their appetite better, and thereby protecting them from consuming excess calories.” 

Overall, slimmers in the study who were following Slimming World’s eating plan felt more in control of their food intake and lost significantly more weight than the group following a calorie-controlled diet. 

Dr Lavin continues: “Slimming World’s Food Optimising plan has always been based on an understanding of how the macronutrient content and energy density of foods affect satiation and satiety and we’ve been actively involved in research in this area for nearly 30 years. We’ve been building on evidence that filling up on low energy dense foods naturally limits energy intake, reduces hunger and results in better weight loss, and weight maintenance. In our eating plan, those foods lowest in energy density are designated as Free Foods, and we encourage our members to eat them freely to satisfy their appetite – however big their appetite is.  

It’s important to recognise that any dietary approach to weight management has limited effects in isolation. However, when it’s achieved hand in hand with a multi-component group-based support programme like Slimming World’s, which empowers slimmers to make deep-seated shifts in their mindset and in their behaviour around food and activity, they’re more likely to achieve and maintain their weight loss goals in the long term.” 

Stacey’s story 

Stacey Gascoyne transformation

Before joining Slimming World, Stacey Gascoyne struggled to feel full – even after eating several platefuls in one sitting. In her two years as a member, she’s lost an incredible 14st 8lbs, and she’s done it without ever feeling hungry. She says: 

“In April 2019, I joined Slimming World weighing 25st 2lbs. I was severely asthmatic and couldn’t move an inch without needing my inhaler. I’d tried multiple diets and quick fixes before, I even looked at having a gastric band. I knew I had to change, and when my mum said she was joining Slimming World, I jumped at the chance to go with her.  

Before joining Slimming World, I’d have plate after plate of food at a local ‘all you can eat’ buffet and I never really felt full. Following the Food Optimising plan has helped me to feel so much more in control, I’ve stopped going to the fridge when I’m bored and I never feel hungry!” 

You can read Stacey’s full story here

If you’d like to find out more about how Slimming World can help you say goodbye to feelings of hunger, while getting the weight loss you want, go along to your nearest group and discover the freedom of Food Optimising.

Slimming World Taste the freedom. Free membership offer.





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