A new study reveals that humans limit the size of energy-rich meals that they consume, which suggests they are smarter eaters than it was thought.
The findings point to the long-established belief that humans are mindless to the energy content of the food they consume and are therefore consume the food in the same amount irrespective of if it is energy-poor or energy-rich.
The study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is significant as it challenges a common view among researchers that individuals have a tendency to overconsume high-energy foods.
The idea emanates from previous studies which manipulated the energy content of food to create low and high-energy versions. Meanwhile, in earlier studies, participants were not told if they were consuming a high or low-energy version, and findings revealed that they tended to consume meals of the same weight to result in greater calorie intake with high-energy version.
In fact, for a long period, it has been believed that humans mindlessly overconsume energy-rich meals. Importantly, the study points at a degree of nutritional mindfulness whereby humans manage to adjust the amount of high-energy density options that are consumed, stated the lead author of the study.
The study is distinguishing from artificial manipulation of calories in single foods, and rather looks at data from an experiment using everyday meals with varying energy densities such as chicken salad sandwich with porridge with blueberries and almonds or fig roll biscuits. The trial involved participants who temporarily stayed in a hospital ward that provided different meals for a period of four weeks.
The team of international researchers computed the calories, grams, and energy density for every meal that each participant consumed.