How this designer smoothie tricks you to eat less, lose weight
Eric Doucet knows you listen when your stomach speaks. That's why he's trying to come up with a yummy milkshake-style snack that will trick your stomach into telling you to eat less at lunch and dinner.
Mr. Doucet, an assistant professor at the School of Human Kinetics within the University of Ottawa, is an expert in the study and treatment of obesity. He's hoping that the special shakes, taken twice daily at strategic times, will elicit maximum secretions from the hormones associated with fullness in the gastrointestinal tract.
The intention is to get these hunger-curbing peptides to peak just when you are about to sit down for lunch and dinner.
"Basically, the idea is to get people to start their main courses of the day feeling less hungry, to see whether or not this would impact on the amount of food they would eat as well as food selection," said Mr. Doucet.
He is still working on the recipe for the specially designed milkshakes, which will likely contain some blend of fruits and yogurt. "It has to taste good. We're trying to play around with food content, in terms of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It gets complicated with proteins -- they give you that powdery taste."
Mr. Doucet explained that the researchers will try to pinpoint how long it takes for the hormone secretions to reach maximum levels in volunteer participants. "It may take 90 minutes, for example. Then we would give them the snack at 10:30 a.m. so the maximum level for this hunger curbing peptide would coincide with the onset of lunch. And the same for dinner."
The first 20 volunteers will participate for a total of nine days in the experimental sessions. "We are hoping they will reduce their spontaneous food intake by more calories than what we are imposing," he said.
"We know from experience that when we're really hungry, we tend to make unwise food choices -- that's when people tend to go for the high-fat, high-sucrose foods. We are trying to manipulate some of the peptides, or some of the hormones, associated with satiety. We know some of these hormones are closely related to fullness," Mr. Doucet said.
If the study confirms the initial hypothesis, he said, the next step would be weight-loss trials. "Obviously, this is not the magic bullet. But hopefully it would be an additional manipulation that would help people have better control over feeding. Instead of actually restricting food intake, you are trying to do some covert manipulation -- you're giving food to reduce food intake."
Mr. Doucet's project is among 60 studies at the University of Ottawa that will be funded by about $13.8 million in grants and scholarships received this week from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Some of the funding will be distributed to the university's partner institutions, including the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, the Ottawa Health Research Institute, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research.
Mr. Doucet said the study should be completed within 18 months.