Adding fresh water and air to food could be a healthy and effective way to lose weight, a study reveals.
According to researchers working for the research laboratories of the food giant Unilever, using the subterfuge "liquid lunch" would prolong the state of satiety and therefore reduce the quantities ingested.
Scientists have found that giving more volume of food by some gas or water can make you feel fuller than usual, and then help reduce the amount of food you eat.
For their study, presented at the European Congress of Obesity in Geneva (Switzerland) in May 2008, these researchers proposed two meals in the form of the emulsion (suspension of really fine particles of a liquid inside another ) to 24 volunteers.
a Slim Fast milkshake.
The second meal contained only half of the nutrients in the first, the rest being water and gas similar to those found in whipped cream puffs.
But it was not about just injecting water and gas into the food. The milkshake (second meal) had to be designed to keep the gas in the food even after consumption, preventing it from dissolving in the mouth like what happens with whipped cream.
For that, the team of researchers mixed the fats, proteins, and fibers in the food until it finds the right mixture to retain the gas. And it is precisely a technology that could appear in other food products manufactured by Unilever.
In the opinion of "guinea pigs", the second meal reduced the appetite faster than the normal meal (the first one).
"What really surprised us is that the state of satiety has lasted from one to two hours or more," said researcher Sergei Melnikov (project manager in research and development on the management of body weight).
"But we know that the problem for some people is that this state of satiety often disappears after a while.
This problem of the rapid disappearance of satiety is often at the heart of the difficulty of dieting. Hence the interest in food products that can help you feel full, he said.
However, not all gases produce this effect: the carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide) found in soft drinks and other soft drinks cannot do the trick. "You need gases that can be stabilized in food so you do not leave the body until you reach the stomach," he said.
However, the team of Sergei Melnikov has not yet found why such meals filled with air and liquid manage to prolong satiety. She also does not know for sure whether the same effect could be replicated on solid foods.
Further research is needed to answer these questions, says the researcher. "We need more evidence, but it's certainly a simple beginning of the adventure," he says.
Whatever happens, the results of this study should be of interest to those responsible for the Slim Fast (a Unilever brand) meal substitute line, some of which is in the form of milkshakes. In any case, Unilever did not wait to file a patent on the technology found by the researcher Melnikov's team.
"The technology is now available for the Slim Fast line to integrate into future formats," said David Mela (a Unilever nutritionist who took part in the study).
Researcher Melnikov adds, "I would say that our conclusions are not limited to liquids, our technology could be used in other forms of food".
"If you look at Western populations, a large number of adults are overweight or obese," says Gert Meijer (a head of Research & Development at Unilever). "In terms of the amount of people who might be interested in this product, it can be huge," he enthuses.