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I noticed at my local convenience store a nutrition bar I hadn't seen before -- FullBar. I was intrigued by the concepts of the "science of fullness", which is documented on their site:

http://www.fullbar.com/science-of-fullness/

  • Fullbar is inspired by the principles of weight-loss surgery. When a person undergoes bariatric or lap band surgery, a device is installed to constrict the stomach. The result is that when food is ingested, it stretches out the upper part of the stomach, telling the brain that you're full.
  • When you use fullbar products, your stomach fills up on less food, causing you to feel satisfied with smaller amounts of food, so you consume fewer calories during meals, helping you lose weight.
  • fullbar works best when consumed 30 minutes before lunch and dinner or as a substitute for your daily snack. Make it part of your everyday routine, and fill up on any all-natural, fullbar product and a 16-ounce glass of water.
  • Before meals really notice your level of fullness. This is key. Assign your hunger a number from 1-10. Then when planning your meal, monitor how much food you're making and prepare a smaller portion than usual. Don't worry - even if it's only a fraction of what you'd normally eat, you'll still feel full.
  • As you’re eating, pay close attention to how your hunger lessens as you eat. Stop when you become satisfied, not when you become stuffed.

I have some questions about this.

  1. Are they full of crap? I understand how stomach reduction surgery works, but is there other science corroborating this as a workable diet principle?

  2. Are there other diets that exploit this "make the stomach feel extra full on relatively low-calorie but stomach expanding foods before eating full meals" principle?

  3. If #2 is yes, what types of inexpensive, tasty foods can be used to exploit this principle.. other than buying FullBars of course. :)

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You can definitely change the types of foods you eat to get the same type of response. For instance, a donut has many times the calories of an orange but they're close in size. Same with a lot of other foods like veggies. –  BuildStarted Aug 7 '11 at 22:01
    
water should work for those that confuse thirst for hunger. –  Steele Aug 7 '11 at 22:04
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I find drinking lots of water with meals fills my stomach up with calorie-free-ness. –  Chris Ballance Aug 7 '11 at 22:05
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@Omar Kooheji, do you mean like the Gelesis pill? –  Jeremy Stein Aug 8 '11 at 14:23
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The 16 oz glass of water before you eat is probably key. This study shows a 44% greater decline in weight with dieters who drank 500 ml of water prior to their meals than those who did not. 500 ml = 16.906 fl oz –  BackInShapeBuddy Aug 11 '11 at 8:27
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4 Answers 4

If you look at the nutrition value of the bar it looks like their claims are largely BS. The product has high amounts of sugar and seems to fit into the mid-to-high GI/GL bracket so won't be providing a slow intake of energy (low GI foods are associated with this). And the feeling full factor is likely to come from the 500ml of water you're drinking with it rather than the bar.

Facts

The secret to feeling full is combining protein with carbohydrates, which also gives you the added benefit of aiding the transport of the increased Tryptophan from the protein. There's a tonne of studies to support this, to quote one:

The results of this study demonstrate that the macronutrient composition of a midday meal affects both food intake at dinner and self-reported measures of hunger, enjoyment and excitement about eating. These data support previous findings that the ingestion of higher protein foods can lead to an increase in satiety. Both a highprotein lunch and a balanced lunch led to lower food intake at an evening meal than an equicaloric high-carbohydrate lunch.

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  1. Nope. I've switched to a mostly vegetarian diet over the past few years, and one thing I've noticed is how much more satisfying foods rich in dietary fiber are; although you do need to be careful not to eat too much fiber in a short period of time or your digestive system will not be happy. On the other hand, they are full of crap in the sense that their FullBar is, looking at the ingredients, just an ordinary granola bar. And I've seen healthier granola bars (Kashi are better).
  2. I've never seen a diet that has pre-eating, but any diet high in (or, you know, containing) dietary fiber will be more satisfying in fewer calories than your standard meat plus more meat American diet (in my experience). So in a sense any good diet functions partly this way ("eat right and exercise").
  3. I like the aforementioned Kashi granola bars, which appear similar in ingredients, but have much less sugar per bar. Also, a diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds is likely to contain a whole ton of dietary fiber. Specifically, almonds seem like a great pre-meal snack. A normal serving is low in calories, high in fiber, and delicious (I prefer roasted and lightly salted almonds, but some people like raw almonds). I guess almonds aren't exactly cheap per ounce, but you're not supposed to eat handfuls of them at a time (a serving is something like 1/4 cup).
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This sounds like a variation of eating slowly with an addition of a psychosomatic feeling full exercise.

You are being asked to start your meal 30 minutes before usual along with 1/2 L of water. In addition you are being asked to "notice" your level of fullness, which I'm guessing would be something new in your routine.

Eating slowly may help and I'm betting that you would "notice" something by trying to notice something regardless of whether or not you are actually able to discern a difference in the complex hormonal/nervous signals that are used to signal fullness.

In The Four Hour Body the author has an anecdote about a guy (Phil Libin of Evernote fame) loosing weight just by measuring every day and letting his subconscious change his eating habits. Which sounds similar to what this bar is asking you to do.

P.S. The paper at the end of the Harvard Health article is behind a pay wall but any University related person you know ;) should be able to get it for you.

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Anything that claims to help you lose weight by filling your belly is probably counter-productive in the long term, even if it helps in the short term. One of the biggest problems with our attitudes to food in Western societies is our love of large helpings. This feeling of eating to absolute fullness is the last thing we need to be chasing for healthy weight loss or maintenance. Better to eat foods that help us relearn portion control; one of the positive outcomes from high-protein diets is a weaning from the need for carbohydrate fullness.

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While I wholeheartedly agree that Jeff shouldn't try to replace a well-balanced diet with these bars, your answer doesn't really answer his question. –  Ivo Flipse Aug 7 '11 at 23:26
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