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Addict Behav. 1999 May-Jun;24(3):305-15.

The effects of meal composition on subsequent craving and binge eating.

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University Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch School of Medicine, New Zealand.


This study investigated the effects of meals differing in macronutrient composition on subsequent food craving, bingeing, nutrient intake, and mood. Nine women who had prospectively demonstrated episodes of craving received one each of a high-protein, high-carbohydrate, and mixed meal on three separate days. Appetite and mood ratings were taken before and at four intervals up to 150 min after meal consumption. Subsequent ad libitum food intake was recorded in diaries. Premeal hunger, appetite and mood ratings were similar across meal type. After the protein-rich meal, craving for sweet, carbohydrate-rich foods was significantly higher than after the carbohydrate and mixed meals. Elevated negative mood state after the protein-rich meal and reduced vigor after the carbohydrate meal were not statistically significant. The first ad libitum eating episodes after the protein meal contained significantly higher absolute and proportional amounts of total carbohydrate and sucrose and were more likely to be categorized as a binge than were those after the carbohydrate and mixed meals. Those ad libitum eating episodes classified as a craving/binge were characterized by a higher energy and absolute carbohydrate, fat, and sucrose content. Evidence of macronutrient compensation after a protein-rich meal suggests that carbohydrate intake regulation may exist in certain individuals. Possibly via the effects of sensory-specific satiety, serotonergic function, or cognitive factors, a protein-rich meal may induce craving for sweet-tasting, palatable foods in susceptible individuals.

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