It’s Friday and you decide it’s going to be a chill one because you’re tired and ya wanna curl up on the couch with a good movie and some treats…a ‘real’ Netflix and chill kind of night…not the third date kind.
You pick up a nice cut of steak, a few different coloured veggies and mini potatoes for a starch, along with some Oreo ice cream and salt n’ vinegar chips to top it off. You head home, cook and eat your delicious dinner and then it’s time for the good stuff.
You prefer to start with the ice cream because it’s your favourite. Once you get 2-3 cups of the stuff down you’re over it, feeling super full and you can’t manage another bite…time for a brief breather. Five minutes later you remember you’ve got some salty crunchy chips to dig into as well and even though you’re feeling pretty full, something essentially ‘opposite’ to the ice cream on the taste and texture front seems yummy.
Half a bag of chips later and you’re done with the salty crunch, but then you think to yourself that the ice cream you couldn’t manage another bite of 20 minutes ago is sounding pretty darned good again…so it’s back to the freezer. Another two cups down the hatch and the pint is officially gone. You’re stuffed but somehow your taste buds want just a couple more handfuls of those Miss Vickie’s to balance things out…
How is it possible that you are actually able to consume more food when you’re really full by consuming more food? If you had just picked up the ice cream you most likely wouldn’t have been able to eat nearly as much, but because you switched back and forth between the cold, rich, creamy ice cream and the crunchy, salty chips, you were able to avoid palate fatigue and eat more of both foods just by contrasting one with the other!
This is why you’re able to eat so much at a buffet - there are literally hundreds of options which equate to tons of different tastes, smells, textures and temperatures.
If we eat a portion of one type of food, we develop palate fatigue and we don’t want anymore. This evolutionary mechanism makes good sense for a couple of reasons.
-Avoiding nutrient deficiencies – The body wants a variety of nutrients because that’s what it needs. If we were to eat the same food day in and day out it’s possible that we might lack the nutrients that aren’t in the food and therefore we would seek out other foods.
-Avoiding toxicity/poisoning – Every living thing on the planet that can’t run away, bite back or hide has a defense mechanism and the classic example is plants. Plants contain toxins and when we consume them in large enough amounts we get sick. That toxin overload lets us know we overdid it and that’s how plants survive.
We’ve developed this mechanism of palate fatigue to protect ourselves from nutrient deficiencies and toxin exposure; however, we’re able to override these systems by changing up a taste and/or texture which makes it possible for us to go back to the original food we were eating like Oreo ice cream and salt and vinegar chips.
Professional eaters know this stuff all too well and HERE is short video of palate fatigue at its finest. Adam Richman from Man vs. Food gets bogged down on an ice cream challenge so he orders a plate of extra salty fries to ‘break it up.’ This allow himself to finish the ice cream via switching up the palate experience.
So, what should you take from this article and implement?
-Be aware of the ‘buffet’ effect if you decide to hit one
-Eat like a normal eater, not a professional
-Avoid going ‘back and forth’ between palate experiences
-Limit your options to some degree (anti-buffet set-up) - use 'palate fatigue' to your advantage
-Favour single/minimal ingredient whole foods that you cook yourself…this is the most effective way to lose fat and maintain a lean body composition
Good luck out there gang and as always, contact me with any questions you’ve got!