For a slimmer bod, controlling your appetite is key for obvious reasons–after all, if you’re less hungry, you won’t eat as many calories.
Now there may be one strange–albeit effective–way to curb your appetite, say researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
According to their research, which now appears in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, consuming high amounts of iron, something people do when they eat too much red meat, could increase something called leptin by 42 percent. Leptin, a type of hormone, helps regulate appetite inside the body.
For researcher Don McClain, M.D., Ph.D., these findings once again reiterate the importance of cutting out red meat.
“We showed that the amount of food intake increased in animals that had high levels of dietary iron,” says McClain, director of the Center on Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “In people, high iron, even in the high-normal range, has been implicated as a contributing factor to many diseases, including diabetes, fatty liver disease and Alzheimer’s, so this is yet another reason not to eat so much red meat because the iron in red meat is more readily absorbed than iron from plants.”
Experimenting on laboratory mice, researchers split them into two groups and fed them one of two diets: A diet high in iron (2000 mg/kg) or a diet low in iron (35 mg/kg). The amount of iron the mice received in the high iron group was the equivalent of a 215 percent increase in normal iron levels, similar to levels someone would consume while eating a diet high in red meat products.
Researchers then waited for two months as the mice continued to eat these diets.
After the diets ended, researchers decided to examine their leptin levels. The result? Those on the high-iron diet had a 42 percent increase in leptin levels, significantly increasing their appetite.
Those who ate normal to low amounts of iron had more normal leptin levels, however.
“We don’t know yet what optimal iron tissue level is, but we are hoping to do a large clinical trial to determine if decreasing iron levels has any effect on weight and diabetes risk,” says McClain. “The better we understand how iron works in the body, the better chance we have of finding new pathways that may be targets for the prevention and treatment of diabetes and other diseases.”
So when it comes to losing weight, cutting out iron–and red meat–is probably key.
What This Means For You
We all need iron in our diets–it’s a nutrient that helps our bodies thrive. Overdoing it, however, could spell disaster for your diet, so it’s time to make a diet overhaul. Your best bet? Switch out red meat for leaner cuts of chicken and seafood instead as a way to lower hunger levels naturally.
Readers: How often do you eat red meat?