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February 18, 2008

Stimulating The "Second Meal Effect" - A Simple Way To Regulate Blood Sugar, Suppress Appetite, and Support Weight Loss

Farmer_holding_grain72_2We've written previously on the Integrated Supplements Blog about the "forgotten nutrient" of our modern diet - dietary fiber.  We've shown you how important fiber can be for the proper functioning of the digestive system, how fiber can aid in body cleansing, and even how certain types of fiber can lower cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

But still, even for all of its many benefits, numerous studies have shown that most of us barely manage to take in half of the 25-35 grams of fiber we need each day to ensure good health.

Sure, most of us may think that we’re taking in enough fiber if we try and eat things like fruits, vegetables, or fiber cereals, but when we actually sit down and do the math, most of us will  find that our daily fiber intake isn't anywhere near what it needs to be.

But perhaps many of us would make an extra effort to consume a bit more fiber each day if we knew how significantly fiber helped with appetite suppression and weight loss.

Follow The Money

Let’s face it - protecting our health is all well and good, but the numbers don't lie.  Most of us primarily want to look better - and for that we're apparently willing to spend any amount of money.  It's been estimated that Americans spend $35 billion dollars per year on products specifically geared towards weight loss.  And yet, from the looks of things, the vast majority of this money is simply being wasted. 

It's a shame, really.  Weight loss, at its most fundamental level, never has been, and never will be rocket science - sustainable weight loss simply requires that we find ways to nourish our body while taking in slightly less calories than we burn.  Sure, with processed food never more than an arms-length away, this is somewhat more difficult now than it has been in years past, but certain common sense rules still apply.  If we can find ways to safely reduce our appetite, our weight loss goals will automatically become infinitely easier to achieve. 

The Second Meal Effect - The Power Of Soluble Fiber For Weight Loss

While most of us know that fiber helps to reduce our appetite because it "fills us up," few people realize that certain types of fiber can continue to regulate our blood sugar, and can suppress our appetite for many hours after they are consumed.  Studies have even shown that certain types of fiber are able to blunt the blood-sugar response to meals a full 12 hours after they are taken.

This effect is commonly called the second meal effect, and it may hold the key as to why certain types of dietary fiber can have such remarkable effects on weight loss and appetite control.

Glycemic Effect - Or Something More?

Years ago, researchers believed that the second meal effect had much to do with the glycemic index - the measure of how quickly blood sugar is elevated in response to a given food or meal.  The thinking was that low-glycemic foods (often including foods high in fiber) may significantly delay gastric emptying, which could affect the blood sugar response at the next meal.

But recent research has indicated that it may not be the glycemic index of a meal which influences the second meal effect, but rather, the ability of the fiber in the meal to undergo fermentation in the intestines.

Fiber And The Good Bacteria

You know the bacterial cultures used to make yogurt, or the "good bacteria" you take as a probiotic supplement?  Well, certain types of fiber (commonly known as soluble fiber, but more precisely known to scientists as fermentable fiber) are able to feed, and support the growth of such beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.  As these good bacteria grow and thrive on soluble fiber, it seems that they can impart far reaching health benefits which extend well beyond the realm of our intestines. 

The scientists who conducted the following study found that individuals consuming a breakfast meal containing "indigestible, fermentable carbohydrates" (i.e. soluble fiber) had better glucose tolerance (a measure of how efficiently the body metabolizes carbohydrates) at lunch 5 hours later, even if their breakfast meal was high glycemic.  The researchers concluded that fermentation of the fiber by good bacteria in the colon was responsible for the effects.

Study Link - Colonic fermentation of indigestible carbohydrates contributes to the second-meal effect

And exactly what, you may ask, makes these "good bacteria" so important for regulating blood sugar, enhancing insulin sensitivity, and ultimately helping weight loss?

Well, as it turns out, one of the things that make these good bacteria so "good" is that they are able to produce substances called short chain fatty acids (SCFAs).  These particular types of fatty acids may help to nourish cells in the colon, and may also be able to work on a systemic basis to help regulate our insulin sensitivity, blood sugar and appetite.  And you thought that the colon was just the "garbage dump" of the body, didn’t you?

Study Link - Metabolic cross talk between the colon and the periphery: implications for insulin sensitivity

Other researchers have found that soluble-fiber-containing meals eaten in the evening were even able to improve glucose tolerance at breakfast the next morning - 12 hours later. 

Study Link - Effects of GI and content of indigestible carbohydrates of cereal-based evening meals on glucose tolerance at a subsequent standardised breakfast

So, given the results of this research, maybe we should go out of our way to include soluble fiber in our "late-night snacks" as well as our breakfasts if we're trying to achieve healthy blood sugar levels and effortless weight loss.

Fiber - So Simple, Yet So Easy To Miss

You may never know it with all of the crazy (and expensive) diet schemes out there today, but the path to sensible weight loss doesn’t have to be complicated.  Simply finding ways to add more soluble fiber into your diet can be a great first step.

This is why we created Integrated Supplements Fiber Balance - to be the world’s first great-tasting, smooth-mixing, and balanced fiber supplement.  We created the first fiber product which makes it easy and even enjoyable to add a significant amount of soluble fiber to your diet.  Fiber Balance contains 10 grams of fiber per serving (9 grams of which is soluble fiber) from a blend of 5 different fiber sources. 

And its delicious apple cinnamon flavor mixes great with water, juice, milk, yogurt, or your favorite protein shake.  Taken daily, and of course, taken in conjunction with a healthy diet and proper exercise, Fiber Balance may be just the thing you need to take the edge off of excessive food cravings any time of the day or night.  And you can bet that because of soluble fiber and the second meal effect, that your appetite and blood sugar will then remain under control for hours.

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