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Psyllium boosts chance of successful weight loss

You're looking to slim down your fat rolls and have reduced the number of calories you consume at meals. This works, but it increases your feeling of hunger and therefore the chance that you won't be able to keep the diet up. Researchers at Procter & Gamble published an article in Appetite, which describes a way of increasing dieting success. If you take a couple of grams of psyllium with a meal, the feeling of hunger will stay away for longer afterwards.

Psyllium - the stuff is available from any chemists, health food shop or vitamin store - is a soluble dietary fibre, derived from the seeds of the plant Plantago ovata. After being eaten it forms a syrupy gel-like substance that slows down the body's digestion of foods. This is why psyllium can increase the satiating effect (feeling full) of meals. The researchers wanted to find out whether this is really so.

The researchers did two experiments. Each lasted three days, and involved several scores of people. In each experiment the subjects were given a placebo, or a dose of psyllium, just before breakfast or lunch. The subjects dissolved the psyllium powder in a glass of water and drank this.

The researchers used Metamucil, a psyllium preparation produced by Procter & Gamble.

In the first study the researchers tested different doses. The subjects were given 3.4, 6.8 or 10.2 g psyllium before their meals. During the hours after the meals the researchers found out how satiated the subjects were by getting them to fill in questionnaires [SLIM; Satiety Labeled Intensity Magnitude]. The optimal dose was 6.8 g psyllium.

Psyllium boosts chance of successful weight loss

Psyllium boosts chance of successful weight loss

In the second study the researchers continued their experiments with the 6.8 g dose of psyllium. At breakfast they gave half of their subjects a placebo and the other half psyllium, on three consecutive days. The researchers then used questionnaires to determine how hungry the subjects felt after breakfast.

The figure on the right below shows that the fibre supplement reduced hunger by a third. The figure below on the left shows the reduction of hunger in the first study.

The satiating effect of breakfast, with or without psyllium, is bigger in the first study. That's because the breakfast in the first study covered about 30 percent of the daily energy intake. In the second study the figure was 15-20 percent. But in both studies the supplement reduced the feeling of hunger after the meal by a third.

Psyllium boosts chance of successful weight loss

Some of the subjects reported that psyllium made them feel bloated or that they had wind.

"Psyllium supplementation before meals is well tolerated and can significantly affect satiety by decreasing hunger, increasing fullness, and reducing the desire to eat between meals", the researchers concluded.

Appetite. 2016 May 7;105:27-36.

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