Inulin is a type of dietary fiber that is found naturally in many plants, such as chicory root, garlic, onion, artichoke, and banana. It has several health benefits, such as improving gut health, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and enhancing mineral absorption. But did you know that inulin can also help you feel fuller and eat less?
How Inulin Works in the Gut
Inulin is prebiotic, which means that it feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. These bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate, which have various effects on your metabolism and appetite regulation.
One of the SCFAs, propionate, is particularly important for controlling appetite. Propionate can enter the bloodstream and reach the brain, where it activates receptors that signal satiety and reduce hunger. Propionate can also increase the production of appetite-suppressing hormones, such as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and peptide YY (PYY), which further enhance the feeling of fullness.
How Inulin Affects Energy Intake and Body Weight
Several studies have shown that consuming inulin can reduce energy intake and body weight in humans. For example:
- A randomized controlled trial with 20 healthy men found that consuming 8 g of inulin per day for 21 days reduced energy intake in an ad libitum meal by 10%, compared to a maltodextrin control. However, there was no significant difference in perceived satiety and appetite between the groups.
- A randomized controlled trial with 49 overweight or obese adults found that consuming 10 g of inulin propionate ester per day for 24 weeks prevented weight gain and increased weight loss, compared to inulin alone. Inulin propionate ester is a modified form of inulin that delivers more propionate to the gut. The study also found that inulin propionate ester increased satiety and reduced appetite, as measured by visual analog scales.
- A randomized controlled trial with 125 overweight or obese adults found that consuming 16 g of inulin per day for 18 weeks reduced visceral fat (the fat around the organs) by 7.5%, compared to a cellulose control. The study also found that inulin increased satiety and reduced hunger ratings after breakfast.
How to Incorporate Inulin into Your Diet
Inulin is available as a supplement or as an ingredient in some foods, such as yogurt, cereal bars, breads, and beverages. You can also get inulin from eating foods that naturally contain it, such as chicory root coffee, Jerusalem artichoke soup, or roasted garlic.
The recommended daily intake of inulin varies depending on your age, health status, and goals, but generally ranges from 5 to 20 g per day. However, you should start with a low dose and gradually increase it over time, as too much inulin can cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Inulin is a type of fiber that can increase satiety and control appetite by influencing the gut microbiota and the production of SCFA and hormones. Consuming inulin can help you reduce your energy intake and body weight, especially visceral fat. However, you should consult your doctor before taking any supplements or making any dietary changes.