Low-Calorie Artificial Fats Create Real Weight Gain

What happens when you get a whiff of cookies baking in the oven, a pie cooling on the counter or even of dead cow being flame broiled outside a Burger King? Well, if you’re like me, there’s a definite physical response. My mouth begins watering and I suddenly notice even the slightest of hunger pangs rumbling around deep in my belly.

Conclusion? Our senses play a role in our digestive system. But it doesn’t end at smell; apparently taste primes different parts of our bodies for digestion as well.

Take the artificial sweetener sucralose. Previous studies have shown that eating sweet substances without the caloric payload can really mess with a diet. Whether it be mental or physical, studies have shown that those who drink a lot of diet soda can wind up putting on weight over the long haul.

Now, the same scientists from Purdue University are taking aim at zero calorie substitute fats, such as olestra.

It stands to reason that if you eat the same amount of food with one being full-fat and the other being artificially produced to be zero-fat and zero-calorie, that one would lose weight. But apparently not so, according to Susan Swithers and Terry Davidson.

“Tastes normally alert the body to expect calories, and when those calories aren’t present we believe the systems become ineffective and one of the body’s mechanisms to control food intake can become ineffective,” says Swithers.

In their study, the pair crushed up regular potato chips and those made with olestra and fed it to rats as a supplement to a high-fat diet. Some got all regular, some got a mixture and the rest got the diet version.

Naturally, they all gained weight, seeing as they were all being fed a high-fat, high-calorie diet. The interesting part is that the mice eating the substitute fat chips gained more weight than their peers. What’s more, once the group of rats that was eating a combination of the two was switched to just synthetic chips, they gained more weight as well.

Obviously, nobody is going to tell you that eating a high-fat diet is a good way to lose weight in the first place. These rats were being fed all the wrong things. But it is interesting to note that the zero-fat chips had a negative effect on their weight gain, which is counterintuitive.

So once again, if you’re trying to lose weight, eat like you’re poor. No, I don’t mean fast food. I mean natural foods like beans, fruits, veggies, fish, unprocessed breads and a bit of meat. Eat the good stuff, but eat sensibly, and you’ll be fine.


About bigkingken

A science writer dedicated to proving that the Big Ten - or the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, if you will - is more than athletics.
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