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Why are some of us hungry all the time?

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Why are some of us hungry all the time?

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New research shows that people who experience big dips in blood sugar levels, several hours after eating, end up feeling hungrier and consuming hundreds more calories during the day than others.

Published: April 14, 2021

Source: King’s College London

A study found why some people struggle to lose weight, even on calorie-controlled diets, and highlight the importance of understanding personal metabolism when it comes to diet and health.

The research team collected detailed data about blood sugar responses and other markers of health from 1,070 people after eating standardised breakfasts and freely chosen meals over a two-week period, adding up to more than 8,000 breakfasts and 70,000 meals in total. The standard breakfasts were based on muffins containing the same amount of calories but varying in composition in terms of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fibre. Participants also carried out a fasting blood sugar response test (oral glucose tolerance test), to measure how well their body processes sugar.

The team noticed that some people experienced significant 'sugar dips' 2-4 hours after this initial peak, where their blood sugar levels fell rapidly below baseline before coming back up. Big dippers had a 9% increase in hunger, and waited around half an hour less, on average, before their next meal than little dippers, even though they ate exactly the same meals.

It has long been suspected that blood sugar levels play an important role in controlling hunger, but the results from previous studies have been inconclusive. We've now shown that sugar dips are a better predictor of hunger and subsequent calorie intake than the initial blood sugar peak response after eating, changing how we think about the relationship between blood sugar levels and the food we eat.

Discovering that the size of sugar dips after eating has such a big impact on hunger and appetite has great potential for helping people understand and control their weight and long-term health.

Choosing foods that work together with your unique biology could help people feel fuller for longer and eat less overall.

This study shows how wearable technology can provide valuable insights to help people understand their unique biology and take control of their nutrition and health. By demonstrating the importance of sugar dips, the study paves the way for data-driven, personalised guidance for those seeking to manage their hunger and calorie intake in a way that works with rather than against their body.


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Materials provided by King’s College London. Content may be edited for style and length.

  1. Patrick Wyatt, Sarah E. Berry, Graham Finlayson, Ruairi O’Driscoll, George Hadjigeorgiou, David A. Drew, Haya Al Khatib, Long H. Nguyen, Inbar Linenberg, Andrew T. Chan, Tim D. Spector, Paul W. Franks, Jonathan Wolf, John Blundell, Ana M. Valdes. Postprandial glycaemic dips predict appetite and energy intake in healthy individuals. Nature Metabolism, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s42255-021-00383-x

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