The satiety cascade

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Obligatory disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, and the content of this website was created for informational purposes only. Such content is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, treatment or diagnosis.

You know how the phrase goes: You eat an elephant a bite at a time. Over the course of our Rebuttals to Fatlogic series we’ve covered quite a lot of content: starvation mode; metabolic damage; what the four macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats and alcohol) are; micronutrients; thermogenesis; the thermic effect of food; BMI; some hormones related to hunger and satiety (ghrelin, leptin, glucagon and insulin); the glycemic index and a short discussion on toxins. I guess the lesson is that a lot of small steps add up, so it’s worth considering what sort of steps you’re taking in your life. Enough philosophizing though.

This week we’re covering the satiety cascade. We’ll go over what it is, how it works for or against us, and how accurate the idea really is.

What are hunger, satiation, and satiety?

Straight from : Satiety-enhancing products for appetite control: science and regulation of functional foods for weight management by Halford and Harrold:

In classic motivational terms, hunger is the conscious experience associated with the drive to eat.

(…)

Hunger initiates and sustains eating activity, but simultaneously the act of consumption stimulates feedback to bring a meal to an end. The intra-meal processes generated by ingestion that terminate a meal are collectively referredto as satiation.

We’ve all experienced hunger and satiation, and although it may appear silly to define them, we’ve already covered why this is critical in our posts on metabolic damage and starvation mode. Using the proper terminology and clear definitions allows us to mostly stick to the facts and have a clear idea of the limits of our understanding. It’s difficult enough to debate what the facts are without someone else using language as a means to manipulate the facts themselves.

With that digression out of the way, satiation is the series of processes, generated by ingestion, that terminate a meal while hunger is the experience we have when being driven to eat. Before we go further into this, please take a moment to remember how strong both hunger and satiation can be.

Now, when it comes to satiety we’ll stick to a simple definition provided by the British Nutrition Foundation:

Satiety is the feeling of fullness and the suppression of hunger for a period of time after a meal.

In other words, hunger tells us to eat, satiation tells us to stop eating and satiety keeps us from going back to eat too soon. So now that we know what satiety is, let’s take a look at how it arises though the satiety cascade.

What is the satiety cascade?

As Bellisle says in Functional foods and the satiety cascade:

The ‘satiety cascade’ describes a series of behavioural and physiological events that occur following food intake and that inhibit further eating until the return of hunger signals.

The idea behind the satiety cascade is that the sensation of satiety not only depends on the metabollic effects of nutrients in the gut and intestines, but also on psychological and behavioral factors. For example, the sight and smell of food, as well as its sensation in our mouth all influence how much we eat during a meal.

At the same time, it takes more than the sensation of fullness to keep ourselves from having another meal, and . The processes that keep this from happening are influenced by the chemical and physical properties of food (like the matronutrient content, its shape and energy density) and by its sensory impact. When it comes to psychological factors that impact satiety, familiarity with food may trigger expectations of pleasure from eating or about the meal’s satiating potential. In turn, physiological factors include the stretching of the stomach wall, indicators of osmotic load (water retention due to non-absorbable subtances that contain water), and the release, due to food digestion, of hormones which trigger gastric transit.

In a sense, we’ve previously covered aspects of the satiety cascade, without calling it by its name, in our posts on the glycemic index, on ghrelin and leptin, and in our series on the four macronutrients.

Unsurprisingly, some part of the diet industry is focused on taking advantage of the satiety cascade in order to help consumers lose weight. Whether it’s tea, some kind of bar, shakes, pills or whatever, the reality is that most of what they offer can be achieved through less expensive means, like increasing the amount of fiber we eat, drinking more water with our meals or even having meals with foods that have a lower glycemic index. The decision is yours.

In closing

In this post we went over the basics of what hunger, satiation, satiety and the satiety cascade are. Previous posts in our Rebuttals to Fatlogic series have covered related topics, so we didn’t go deep into the satiety cascade. Next week we’ll focus on more uplifting topics and talk about diabetes.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, and would like to see more content like it, check out our section on Rebuttals to Fatlogic.

See you next week!

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