Eat a tempting apple before lunch

April 16, 2009

Eve Knew How to Make a Really Good Meal!  Eat a tempting apple before lunch

Competency # 5  The Way to Eat                         ReferenceAppetite April 2009 52 p 416  Flood-Obbagy  and Barbara Rolls 

 Eating is a very complex process.  We know that eating our calories as whole foods makes us feel fuller than drinking our calories.  It has been stated in many forums that the calories you drink are not registered in your brain as calories and this prevents you from feeling full.  This has all sorts of ramifications for us.  What about your subsequent appetite?  

Has there ever been any good research to show us what happens after you eat a piece of fruit?  Not till now.  This is a fascinating story that has changed my behavior a lot.  I like this. The Food and Nutrition Team at Penn State took 58 random volunteer adults for a meal once a week over 5 weeks.  Each volunteer got a precise “preload” of calories weighing exactly 226 grams with 125 calories in it.  That is the equivalent of one really nice apple. 

 After waiting 15 minutes, they were allowed to eat whatever they wanted for the subsequent meal. The findings were fascinating.  Eating a whole, solid apple resulted in a 15% reduction of calorie intake.   That is a 62-calorie reduction for the entire meal. That would be interesting enough by itself.  You can lose weight by having an apple 15 minutes before a meal!  (62 calories a day is 1800 calories a month or 6 pounds a year.) 

 The most interesting part came when they changed the apple into applesauce with the same weight, calories, rate of ingestion, timing, group of people and open meal afterwards.  Compared to applesauce, eating a solid apple prior to the meal resulted in eating 91 calories less overall.   Compared to juice, it was 150 calories less overall.  Applesauce reduced total meal calorie consumption a tiny bit, compared to juice which had virtually no reduction in calories.   This included apple juice with fiber added back into it.  Juicing an apple with all its fiber in it so that it becomes a drinkable product means you erase the positive effect of eating a whole apple before a meal.   

This study did show that the drinkers did compensate for their calories in the meal, but they did not reduce their total overall calories like eating a whole apple did.  It’s interesting that juice, with or without fiber had the same effect.  Being liquid just doesn’t register in your brain, no matter the fiber content. This suggests that our brains are quite complex and that part of a meal is the actual process of eating it.  Chewing our food makes a difference in how much food we eat.  Stretching it out over time makes a difference.  

The waiting of 15 minutes before the meal may have been part of the impact.  We call that part the cephalic phase during which your body starts to get ready to digest and process food.  Managing your cephalic phase sounds like heavy science.  Maybe it’s only 225 grams of one good apple!   Eve had it down pat! 

 WWW. What will work for me?  Well, my story is my struggle with my belt buckle and my weight. If I can control my weight, many good things happen.  I love apples.  I’m going to try this, one apple, fifteen minutes before dinner.  I’m going to sit and enjoy it, and then set the table and sit down and eat the rest of my meal.

The column was written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI, (262784-5300)