Although we may overlook its importance, the sense of taste could be an important factor in weight gain or loss.
If you've added pounds over time and find yourself craving sweet foods more, it's not your imagination—it could be your taste buds. People who are more than 20 percent above their normal body weight (a category considered obese) are less sensitive to sweetness as a taste than lean people. A recent study from the Pennsylvania State University, College of Medicine, showed that faulty signals between the tongue and brain could cause this lack of sensitivity. This miscommunication increases as body weight rises above normal.
Put simply, the more sweetness-boosted processed foods and baked goods you eat, the more trouble your brain has perceiving the sweet signals being sent from your taste buds. That can cause you to eat more sweets and your weight to increase even more.
By reducing sweets, you get the double benefit of losing pounds and gaining sensitivity to sweet taste. In that way, you'll reach satisfaction sooner and enjoy sweet foods more, while eating less.
Increasing taste sensation in other foods may also help you drop pounds. Research recently presented at the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society by Alan R. Hirsch, MD, showed that adding flavor-enhanced, calorie-free crystals to a variety of foods helped overweight and obese people feel full sooner and eat less, resulting in weight loss averaging 30 pounds in six months.
To apply the research in everyday life, Hirsch recommends preparing low-calorie foods with generous amounts of flavorful salt-free or sugar-free seasonings, enjoying the smell of your food before you begin to eat and chewing foods thoroughly before swallowing.
EurekAlert. "Route to Obesity Passes Through Tongue." http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-11/ps-rto112608.php. Accessed December 2008.
Kovacs P, Hajnal A. "Altered Pontine Taste Processing in a Rat Model of Obesity." Journal of Neurophysiology. 2008;100(4):2145-2157.
The Endocrine Society. "Heightened Sense of Taste Can Promote Weight Loss.