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Can your body tell how many calories the food you're eating has?

  1. Jul 30, 2004 #1
    Today I went to an ice-cream shop and got a medium sized cup (maybe 8 oz) of "Cake Batter" ice-cream. It's very very sweet and rich, tasted just like cake batter, and before I ate half of it, I started feeling sick. I'm sure you've all had the feeling before, when you're eating something really sweet, and you don't eat that much, but you just feel like you're about to vomit if you eat anymore. This ice-cream definately has a huge amount of calories, I knew from the way it tasted it probabally had a bunch of rich cream and butter and stuff, but can your body actually tell that and start feeling sick so you don't overload on calories and get fat?
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  3. Jul 31, 2004 #2
    I don't have the source handy, but I've read a while ago that the body actually estimates the caloric value of food by its volume. That means that when you're hungry, the hunger won't go away as quickly by eating 400 kcals in calorically dense food as by eating the same amount of *energy* in calorically less dense food. That's part of the problem with most kinds of fast food - they're more calorically dense than the average caveman's diet our stomachs and brains are calibrated for, and therefore we need much more of it to make the hunger go away than to fulfill our energy needs.

    Getting sick by eating too much ice cream probabaly has a different reason, as far as I can tell.

    Does anybody have a reliable source to quote on this one?
  4. Jul 31, 2004 #3


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    wasteofo2, the sugar in your blood must have sky-rocketed and made you feel sick.
  5. Jul 31, 2004 #4
    In like 15 or 20 minutes?
  6. Aug 1, 2004 #5
    That's what I was thinking - that would be a pretty fast digestion... I'm not sure, maybe it actually is due to blood sugar skyrocketing - but couldn't it be just the other way around? Sweet tastes in our mouth regulate insulin levels AFAIK. Eating a considerable amount of very sweet food should then result in insulin levels skyrocketing and blood sugar going done - while the additional sugar from food is still in the stomach and not in the blood stream. That should result in nausea, I think...
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2004
  7. Aug 1, 2004 #6
    But Adrian, it was the kind of nausea that made me feel like I shouldn't eat anything else or I'd throw up, wouldn't ridiculously low blood sugar levels give you a feeling like you need to eat immediately?
  8. Aug 1, 2004 #7


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    I think it is a very interesting question, since when I drink a high-energy protein drink, I get the same kind of nausea. I too wondered what the underlying physiological mechanism was.

    You asked 'in like 15 or 20 minutes', but digestion starts in the stomach and sugar or carbohydrates must be taken up fast if they are in a non-complex form.
  9. Aug 1, 2004 #8
    Hm... interesting. Now that you say it, I do get a bit nauseaous (spelling..? lol) at times after drinking my post-workout shake which is rich in protein and simple sugars. I usually blame it on the stress and pressure on the whole gastrointestinal tract from working out...

    How about this though: Maybe the nausea has little to do with the blood sugar. (BTW, what's in your protein drink except protein? If it doesnt contain much carbohydrates, it shouldnt affect blood sugar or insulin levels at all...). Maybe this is a reaction of the stomach to the texture / viscosity / material properties (i.e. the lack of fiber and any "hard parts") of such energy-dense food such as these drinks and that ice cream? Just a thought... I'm really guessing in the dark here, although I hope these are educated guesses :)

    "You asked 'in like 15 or 20 minutes', but digestion starts in the stomach and sugar or carbohydrates must be taken up fast if they are in a non-complex form."

    Well, carbs are not digested in the stomach. They are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream once they leave it, though (if they're non-complex). What I'm wondering though - would a spike in blood sugar levels cause nausea at all? Heightened awakeness and activity levels, yes, but I'm not so sure about nausea or anything that feels "bad" (unless the spike is really extreme).

    I need to check with my friend who has diabetes on this one... or consult google...
  10. Aug 1, 2004 #9
    I can tell you, that as a kid who still eats copious amounts of candy/pastries whenever they're around, that you will get very sick feeling if you eat too much sweet stuff. In the past when I've eaten cake or cookies instead of a meal, I end up feeling very sick afterwards and ususally have the desire to eat something substantial (meat, vegetables, bland carbohydrates). However, I've never felt sick that quickly.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2004
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