The Science Behind Low Satiety “Addictive” Foods

Ever wondered why some foods leave you craving more, no matter how much you eat?  

In this article, we’ll help you decipher low-satiety foods—those irresistible bites that never truly satisfy.  

Discover what makes these foods so addictive and how they impact your hunger and energy intake, and learn strategies to conquer your cravings for healthier choices.  

Uncover the hidden science behind the foods that we often feel ‘addicted’ to and take control of your diet once and for all.

Addictive Foods: Satiety Scores

The list of low-satiety foods reveals a close relationship between the satiety score and the comfort foods we often find most addictive.  

  • Big Breakfast with hotcakes – 0%
  • Nachos Supreme – 0%
  • bread & butter – 0%
  • Big Mac – 9%
  • trail mix – 0%
  • choc chip muffins – 0%
  • pepperoni pizza – 1%
  • onion rings – 3%
  • Hershey’s Kisses – 4%
  • Snickers – 6%
  • milk chocolate – 6%
  • brioche bread – 6%

These low-satiety foods are typically high-calorie and processed, making them highly addictive and difficult to stop eating.

Why Some Foods Never Satisfy

Satiety is the absence of hunger.  

  • High-satiety foods help you feel full quickly and provide essential nutrients more efficently.
  • Low-satiety foods require more energy for you to feel satisfied.

Foods with the lowest satiety are not nutrient-poor.  Instead, they have just the right blend of nutrients to hit multiple nutrient bliss points, which often makes us feel addicted to them. 

Understanding the science of satiety and the impact of nutrient density on your cravings and fullness can help you make better food choices and avoid addictive, low-satiety foods. 

For example, choosing a high-protein meal like grilled meat or seafood with vegetables can keep you fuller for longer compared with much less energy than a low-protein snack like a croissant or a cookie.

Measuring and Ranking Satiety: How We Do It

Our cravings for fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids all influence our food intake.

High-satiety foods help us achieve greater satiety per calorie, satisfying our cravings more efficiently.  Foods that provide more than the minimum bliss point nutrient concentration efficiently satisfy our nutrient needs and trigger sensory-specific satiety.

The point where cravings switch to satiety is the bliss point—the nutrient concentration that aligns with maximum energy intake.  

Ultra-processed foods are engineered to hit our bliss points to maximise palatability and profit.  In contrast, nutrient-dense, high-satiety foods have a higher concentration of nutrients, which makes them more challenging to overeat.

Satiation vs. Sensory-Specific Satiety Explained

Understanding a few key concepts can help you avoid confusion and make better food choices tailored to your goals.

  • Satiation is the short-term feeling of fullness that makes us want to stop eating. 
  • Satiety is simply the absence of hunger regardless of how much energy you consume to achieve it. 
  • Meanwhile, satiety per calorie also considers the amount of energy we need to satisfy our hunger each day.  
  • We experience sensory-specific satiety when we get more than the bliss point minimum amount of certain nutrients.  

Protein’s Role in Satiety and Cravings

Our first chart shows that the foods with the lowest satiety are all tightly clustered around the 12.5% protein bliss point. 

The Big Mac, peanut butter and brioche bread hit the 12.5% protein bliss point bang on.  The Big Mac is designed to be eaten all day, every day. 

Meanwhile, the cheesecake and cookie have an even lower protein percentage.  If you eat a robust meal with a higher protein percentage, these dessert foods will balance your high protein meal with energy from fat and carbs to enable you to hit the bliss point and maximise overall energy intake. 

How Carbs Influence Hunger

While we often think of addictive foods as high-carb or ‘bad carbs’, they’re actually moderate-carb. 

The Impact of Fat on Satiety

Most of the energy in these low-satiety foods comes from fat, not carbohydrates.  But the key is the blend of fat and carbs that overdrive our dopamine circuits because we’re filling both our glucose and fat fuel tanks at the same time. 

Iron’s Hidden Role in Cravings

Low-satiety foods have just enough iron — typically from fortified bread — to hit our bliss point for iron without creating a strong metallic taste. 

Vitamin B2 and Satiety

Low-satiety products also often have just enough riboflavin from the fortified flour to hit our bliss point for vitamin B2. 

Check the Satiety Score of Your Favourite Foods

To check the satiety score of your favourite foods, dive into our interactive chart showing the satiety score vs nutrient density of 750 popular foods

If you’d prefer, you can download printable high-satiety food lists in our Optimising Nutrition Community here

Strategies to Overcome Cravings for Low-Satiety Foods

  1. Build the foundation of your daily diet on minimally processed protein-rich foods
  2. Avoid processed foods that contain some combination of processed oils and flour — they are designed to hit your fat and carb bliss points and likely have low protein.
  3. Avoid foods that are fortified (e.g. iron, B2, etc.) — this further helps to hit our nutrient bliss points and makes the foods more seductive. 

If you’re looking for some recipe inspiration, you can download the Healthiest Meal Plan in the World, packed with our NutriBooster recipes.  

Your Personalised Satiety Formula

While our satiety formula is calibrated using 619,301 days of data from people eating a range of diets all over the world, unfortunately, there is no perfect one-size-fits-all satiety algorithm.

The nutrients you need to prioritise to crush your cravings are unique to you.  To identify your priority nutrients and the foods and meals that will complete your unique nutritional fingerprint, check out our free Nutrient Clarity Challenge

Optimise Your Diet for Higher Satiety

If you need help optimising your diet for greater satiety, you can join our Macros Masterclass.  Over four weeks, we guide our Optimisers to find the right balance of protein, fat and carbs, along with the shortlist of nutrients that provide greater satiety for most people. 

Level Up Your Nutrition Game

Once you’re ready to take your nutrition to the next level and move from the bliss points towards the optimal nutrient intakes for all the essential nutrients, you’ll love our Micros Masterclass.

Beat Low-Satiety Foods for Better Health

Understanding the science behind low-satiety foods explains why they are so addictive and hard to resist.  By recognising the roles of nutrient density, energy intake, and nutrient bliss points, you can make more informed choices for lasting satiety and better health.

Avoid the trap of high-calorie processed foods and aim for nutrient-dense meals that keep you full and satisfied.  Empower yourself with this knowledge and take the first step towards a healthier, more fulfilling diet.  

Join our Macros Masterclass today to learn how to optimize your diet for greater satiety and improved well-being.

Ready to Take Control of Your Hunger?

Join our community of Optimisers transforming their lives with high-satiety foods.  Start your journey to effortless weight loss today!

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