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Why Are We Hungry? Part 1: What Is Hunger? Liking Vs. Wanting, Satiation Vs. Satiety
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July 13, 2011
2:24 am
First-Eater
Forum Posts: 2105
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February 22, 2010
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(This is a multi-part series: click here for the index.)

Caution: contains SCIENCE!

It is the 21st century. We have telephones that fit in a watch pocket, we can sequence the genetic code of life itself, and we can sift the accumulated knowledge of centuries in fractions of a second using Internet search engines. Yet we still don't understand enough about human biochemistry to create a pill that stops us from eating without causing heart valve defects or uncontrollable diarrhea.

Diet pill’s icky side effects keep users honest, msnbc.com, 7/6/2007

"I’ve pooped my pants 3 times today, and sorry to get descriptive but it even…

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July 13, 2011
3:43 am
Halifax, UK
Gnoll
Forum Posts: 365
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June 5, 2011
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It is really useful to split these two, satiation and satiety, in order to really perfect the balance of paleo meals. Food for thought. Good one, thanks.

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Living in the Ice Age http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk
July 13, 2011
4:28 am
Jan
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I've noticed that I'm no longer afraid of being hungry, because I know if I eat a meal that is high in fat, moderate in protein and fairly low in unrefined carbohydrates I'm far less likely overeat, nor will I be hungry again in an hour or two.

I've also noticed something else lately. My 16-year-old son is naturally thin and muscular. He is also pretty disinterested in food. Oh, he likes it (well, some of it), and understands what is good for him and what isn't, but he only eats when he's hungry and always stops when he's full - he rarely eats everything on his plate and when he does he NEVER goes back for seconds, even when it's something he really, really likes.

These two things have had me thinking a lot lately about the whole "food reward" thing, especially since I'm an avid cook (and have been overweight my entire life). Now I get to wonder how his physiology differs from mine. In he meantime, I am attempting to mimic his eating habits. A paleo diet certainly helps.

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July 13, 2011
4:33 am
Edje Noh
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Aah, I see, satiation is achieved by simply filling up the stomach, whereas satiety is achieved by providing the body with quality nutrients and fuel that burns slow and steady for a longer time. That's why we should focus on getting the most nutrient and energy dense food, like mostly meats, fish, egg and veggies and a couple of other foods thrown in (healthy high-fat alternatives, fruits, nuts, starchy veg).

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July 13, 2011
5:37 am
eddie watts
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yay for another update!
i look on your blog daily because, as i've found with other blogs, often the comments include information i did not know previously.

someone in the comments on another update said something about a day a week for consuming alcohol and i meant to look up on it but now cannot find that day! looks like that is what i'll be doing today :D

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July 13, 2011
5:58 am
Gluttonous babies an
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[...] I’m about to publish this, I get the latest post from J.Stanton on satiation vs satiety. Looks like toddlers understand this concept much better than some [...]

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July 13, 2011
6:02 am
lynn
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Being Insulin resistant...I was hungry constantly...even 5 minutes after I ate a large meal. I never had a full feeling or a feeling that I was satisfied. I complained about it to my husband wondering what the heck was wrong with me. I could not possibly be hungry but I had strong cravings or urges to eat.
After learning from Gary Taubes that insulin is a fat storage hormone and that if insulin was in my blood stream my body would/could not use my fat for fuel,I began to research. Eating whole foods, high in fat and protein has changed all that. Now I eat only when I am hungry and that is not very often. Often times I start to eat, take a few bites and want no more. What a relief.

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July 13, 2011
12:14 pm
First-Eater
Forum Posts: 2105
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February 22, 2010
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Paul:

Absolutely.  This theoretical framework lays the foundation for many important insights, some of which I'll bring up in subsequent articles.

Jan:

Satiation vs. satiety, and liking vs. wanting, are keys to understanding what "food reward" really means -- and how it can and cannot be manipulated.  I'll get to that in the future.

Edje Noh:

There's more to satiation than just filling up the stomach, but you're basically correct on satiety.

eddie:

Thank you!  I think the alcohol idea is from Martin at leangains.com.

lynn:

Insulin crosses the blood-brain barrier and plays a role in satiety.  And as you found out, it's very easy to be satiated but not sated.

JS

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July 13, 2011
12:43 pm
Lee
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I thought I'd pipe in and thank you for this article. I'm recouping from a severe enteritis (infection of the Ileum), if my spelling is right! It was a very discouraging month - the first week of which I lost 14 lbs. which I could hardly afford! People feared for my life - so did I! I'm back on paleo now, after a necessary carb binge since that was all my body could tolerate - still need to gain weight back - have hernia repair surgery on Monday - I'm 64 -I thought I'd say that for this past 1/2 year being on Paleo, I never experienced hunger! During my convalescence eating carbs and sugar and dairy - my hunger came back! Now it's gone again - "right" food - the proteins and fats, make a huge difference in "hunger knowledge" as well as inflammation and energy smarts! Thanks for this article!

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July 13, 2011
5:00 pm
Timothy
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@Eddie

The alcohol comment thread is here. Better than that, though, the Leangains article that I attempted to summarize is here.

@Everyone

Satiation vs. satiety is an important distinction and one that I only began to notice after eating paleo. For most of my life, I never experienced satiety, so I would eat to the point of satiation and beyond on other foods (thanks to gluten, at one point my belly grew larger than that of my 8-months-pregnant wife). Only after I learned to eat real food exclusively did I find out what it felt like to be sated and not even thinking about food.

Consider pica, a disorder of eating non-food items like hair, dirt, or even sofa stuffing. Sufferers experience desperate "wanting" to eat things that they don't really "like". In many cases sufferers are found to be nutritionally deficient in some way, and this is thought to be the underlying cause. Pregnancy can also provoke this behavior, probably because gestation demands a certain nutritional flexibility from the mother.

It seems to me that overeating is simply a form of pica: to the list of non-food items, we can add grains, vegetable oils, trans fats and all the modern food substitutes. But unlike eating dirt, which at least has some minerals and probiotics, eating fake foods will actually worsen nutritional deficiency. Indeed, pica might be considered the most widespread disorder in English-speaking countries, afflicting two-thirds of the population or more.

Here's to achieving satiety through complete nutrition, so that we can stop thinking about food all the time and focus on more rewarding activities, like mountain biking or smashing things with a sledgehammer.

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July 14, 2011
1:41 am
Sean
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This series is going to be totally awesome. Keep up the good work JS.

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July 14, 2011
2:23 am
eddie watts
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timothy: thanks for that, i spent all day yesterday trawling the comments section on here and had not found it yet!
got a party coming up so will be sticking to the proposed plan here and maybe make use of it in future too

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July 14, 2011
3:00 am
Asclepius
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Looking forwards to the series!

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July 15, 2011
3:09 am
Kat Eden
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I like your mention of prime rib as something you would not eat when full, even though you like it. I think that's what good food comes down to - it tastes great when hungry, but you would never binge on it out of boredom or stress! 2 kilos of broccoli sure wouldn't go down easy, anyway!

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July 18, 2011
2:58 pm
First-Eater
Forum Posts: 2105
Member Since:
February 22, 2010
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Lee:

Congratulations on getting well, and I'm glad you find this helpful.  Stick around, as there's plenty more to say about these issues.

Timothy:

It is absolutely true that satiation is not the same thing as satiety.  I'll be exploring this in the next article.  And I love your concept of referring to overeating as a form of pica: I'll definitely be addressing things like overeating, binge eating, and other disordered eating issues as the series progresses.

Sean, Asclepius:

Thanks!  Everyone thinks they've found the key to solving obesity, and there are a lot of claims being made (even in the paleosphere), but the empirical evidence shows that we haven't yet done so.  My aim is to deliver a theoretical framework that we can use to analyze dietary strategies, so we can figure out which are more likely to work in the real world.  

Kat:

Exactly.  The details of these motivations, and how they produce the results they do, come next.

JS

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August 13, 2011
2:58 am
Insulin doesn't
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[...] about this, and more, in next week's article, which continues an ongoing series, which starts here: Why Are We Hungry? Part I: What Is Hunger? Liking Vs. Wanting, Satiation Vs. Satiety Please note that I have no horse in this race: I am neither selling diet books nor defending a [...]

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August 14, 2011
1:59 am
Could the Atkins die
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[...] Why Are We Hungry? Part I: What Is Hunger? Liking Vs. Wanting, Satiation Vs. Satiety Hunger Is The Product Of Multiple Perceptions And Motivations, Sometimes Conflicting Restrained Eating: Willpower and Why Diets Fail (Why Are We Hungry? Part III) I agree with one of the commenter's on the last of this series that managing cortisol levels is a major factor in losing weight. I believe we all suffer too much stress and chronic inflammation results and eating comfort foods exacerbates the problem. Changing to coconut oil and increasing my fat intake helped me turn my hunger signals off and enabled calorie reduction, intermittent fasting which is something different from the Will power needed for calorie restriction which I'm not very good at. [...]

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August 22, 2011
1:57 pm
Tuesday 23rd August
Guest

[...] Paleo Corner – Why Are We Hungry? Part I: What Is Hunger? Liking Vs. Wanting, Satiation Vs. Satiety [...]

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August 25, 2011
6:39 am
The most important w
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[...] Why are we hungry @ Gnolls.org (major series) [...]

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August 25, 2011
11:58 am
» Random Vacat
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[...] on food reward has had me waiting with bated breath since the first post. J. Stanton’s on Why We’re Hungry has added some [...]

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