Who doesn't love a smoothie? Even before the pressed-juice craze of recent years, you didn't have to be a fitness fanatic to understand that blending together a bunch of fruits and veggies is an easy, efficient way of squeezing in a nutritious, filling meal. But what if your smoothie could make that feeling of fullness last even longer?
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently shared the results of a new study in which researchers in the Netherlands fed a small group of men some dairy-based smoothies that varied in two ways: energy density (as in how many calories) and viscosity (as in how thick).
Via MRI, the researchers analyzed the contents of the men's stomachs as they were digested, and asked the men directly about their current fullness and appetites at regular intervals. They concluded that the thicker smoothies made participants feel fuller for a longer amount of time, regardless of whether they contained 100 calories or 500. The term is "phantom fullness," and the Dutch scientists suggested that working with this phenomenon could be "useful in lowering [caloric] intake."
The study set out to examine the factors that help you feel satisfied after eating: Is it a stomach that's literally fuller? A larger number of calories? So the researchers weren't looking for super easy weight-loss advice, but they supplied it anyway - thicken your smoothie up to keep from eating more at that meal time, and after (you know, like when that 3 p.m. craving hits).
P.S. The most obvious thickener for a smoothie is, of course, the most fattening: ice cream! But there are plenty of other ways to make your blend a little bulkier. Try low-fat or Greek yogurt, use dense fruits like banana or avocado, add a nut butter, or use good old ice-then slurp to your stomach's content.