Humans may have ‘built-in calorie counters to keep us from overeating’


The new study looked at data from a 2019 trial in which 20 healthy adults who were hospitalized for four weeks were given standard, everyday meals, such as a chicken salad sandwich with fig rolls or porridge with blueberries and almonds.

The original study looked at ultra-processed foods and healthier options, and each meal had a known amount of calories, as well as sugar, fat, fiber and macronutrients.

In their study, the researchers speculated that there will likely be a calorie tipping point where a person registers that their meal is packed with calories and then subconsciously decides to eat less.

Ms Flynn said: “For example, people ate smaller portions of a pasta dish with creamy cheese, which is a high-energy meal, than a salad with many different vegetables, which is relatively low in energy.”

‘Hidden complexity in how people deal with energy-rich foods’

Co-author Jeff Brunstrom, a professor of experimental psychology at the University of Bristol, said: “This research lends weight to the idea that humans are not passive overeaters after all, but show the discerning ability to moderate how much of a high-energy meal they consume. .

“This work is particularly exciting because it reveals a hidden complexity of how humans interact with modern, energy-dense foods, something we’ve called ‘nutritional intelligence’.

“This tells us that we don’t seem to passively consume these foods and so the reason why they are associated with obesity is more nuanced than previously thought.

“For now, at least, this offers a new perspective on a long-standing problem and opens the door to a series of important new questions and avenues for future research.”

The findings are published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.