Study Shows Why Protein Makes Us Full

Sunrise Senior Living  |  July 23, 2012

Seniors may notice that their metabolism has slowed down with age, but that doesn't mean they can't lose weight the healthy way. Eating a meal rich with protein could tell the brain a person is full quicker, eliminating the urge for a snack.

Research published in the journal Cell recently looked out how signals travel between the gut and brain after eating a protein-rich meal to create the feeling of fullness.

The study's authors noted that food intake is modulated by mu-opioid receptors (MORs) on the nerves of the walls of the portal vein. When digesting protein, the body blocks MORs, which helps curb the appetite, signaling to the brain the person is full.

"These findings explain the satiety effect of dietary protein, which is a long-known but unexplained phenomenon," says senior author Dr. Gilles Mithieux of the Université de Lyon, in France. "They provide a novel understanding of the control of food intake and of hunger sensations, which may offer novel approaches to treat obesity in the future."

Older adults who are looking to lose weight may want to consider eating meals high in protein so they will be less likely to reach for a snack.