“Eat only when you’re hungry” is a nice truism, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes people eat for other reasons. Or even if you're hungry, you want to eat less to lose weight, so you try all kinds of tricks, such as eating the salad first, eating more slowly, eating dark chocolate — wait, what was that? Yes, some evidence suggests that dark chocolate can suppress the appetite.
Susan Dopart, a registered dietitian who wrote an article on appetite suppression for the Huffington Post website in October 2010, explains that appetite is controlled by three hormones that interact with each other — insulin, ghrelin and leptin. Insulin’s primary job is to manage the transfer of sugar from the bloodstream into the body's cells, but if you eat a diet high in simple carbohydrates, you can become resistant to the effects of insulin, which causes you to eat more. Essentially, you lose your ability to know when you’re full. Ghrelin, on the other hand, actually increases your appetite while leptin decreases hunger.
Dark Chocolate and Ghrelin
Young women who ate or even smelled dark chocolate had a decreased appetite in a study performed in the Netherlands. Researchers reported their findings in the April 2010 issue of “Regulatory Peptides." The researchers carried out a series of experiments on young, healthy female volunteers. In the first phase, the women all ate dark chocolate. In the second phase, they either smelled dark chocolate or were part of the control group that had no chocolate exposure. In both cases, the women exposed to dark chocolate on some level reported decreased appetite, and their ghrelin levels decreased — remember, ghrelin stimulates the appetite.
Dark Chocolate and Appetite
In a second study at the University of Copenhagen, researchers gave healthy young men 100 grams of dark or milk chocolate after they had been fasting for 12 hours. The study, published in December 2008, contained some surprising results. About 2.5 hours after eating the chocolate, the study participants were offered as much pizza as they wanted, and were instructed to eat until they felt full. Those who ate the dark chocolate ate 15 percent less of the pizza. Study participants also said eating dark chocolate gave them less of a desire to eat foods that were salty, sweet or fatty.
These research results are certainly intriguing, and experimenting on your own might give you the same feeling of fullness. If you have a lot of weight to lose, though, or if you find yourself binging on the chocolate instead of using it in moderation, it would be a good idea to talk to a health care professional about your weight loss desires.
- Huffington Post: Appetite Control -- Understanding Your Hunger Hormones
- Regulatory Peptides: Appetite Suppression Through Smelling of Dark Chocolate Correlates With Changes in Ghrelin in Young Women
- University of Copenhagen Faculty of Life Sciences: The Dark Chocolate Version of Father Christmas is Most Filling
- Dark chocolate in a foil image by terex from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.