It doesn’t take much to cross over from weight maintenance to weight increase. For example, the rise in body weight in the U.S. population from 1980-1994 could be accounted for by an intake of only 4 calories higher than that needed to maintain a healthy weight per day in women and 13 calories higher in men (1). As a result, a typical adult can gain approximately 2.2 pounds per year over their lifetime. Taking this into consideration, it’s clear that eating just a few less calories per day could make the difference between a healthy, or unhealthy, bodyweight.
Prebiotic fibers can help food manufacturers and therefore consumers address this issue and support weight management in the following key ways:
• Help consumers to eat less calories
• Reduce the caloric value of foods
• Manage blood sugar
How prebiotic Fibers Help Consumers Eat Fewer Calories
Animal and human intervention studies suggest that prebiotic fibers can play a pivotal role in achieving the goal of helping consumers eat less. Indeed, prebiotic fibers oligofructose-enriched inulin and oligofructose have been shown to have beneficial effects on energy balance by helping to reduce spontaneous caloric intake in people consuming a non-restricted diet. In a study involving overweight and obese adults, oligofructose-enriched inulin included at a daily dosage of 12 grams/day or 0.42 ounces/day for three weeks, resulted in a significant reduction in energy intake (2).
However, it isn’t only those who are overweight who can benefit from an increase of prebiotic fiber in their diet. Two earlier studies conducted in normal weight adults supplemented with 2x8 grams/day or 0.56 ounces/day of oligofructose-enriched inulin or oligofructose during two weeks, also showed that the total daily energy intake of the participants was reduced when the prebiotic fibers were present in their diet (3,4).
Taken together, these human intervention studies have reported a consistent reduction in energy intake, following supplementation with 12-16 grams/day or about 0.4 to 0.6 ounces/day of prebiotic daily. The reduction in total calories consumed was sustained over time and showed in normal weight, overweight and obese individuals. Some subjective parameters related to appetite sensations, such as lower hunger ratings, were also positively modulated in the hours following a test meal. Results suggest that oligofructose-enriched inulin or oligofructose help appetite regulation, enabling a reduction in energy intake to be achieved at the end of the day. Such effects on appetite regulation, however, still require more firm substantiation.
The effects of prebiotic fibers on energy intake have further been shown to have positive consequences in the context of body weight management. A three-month intervention in overweight and obese adults has demonstrated that prebiotic fiber supplementation can bring adult weight gain to a halt (5). This study found a reduction in body weight of 2.2 pounds in the group fed about 3x7 grams/day or 0.74 ounces of oligofructose per day, compared with an increase of about one pound in the control group. While this does not represent a cure for obesity, such reductions in weight could, over time, help consumers to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
In this three-month study, it is also worth noting that weight reduction was mostly abdominal fat loss, an important factor in reducing the risk of metabolic disease. By week six, there was also a significant reduction in energy intake in the prebiotic group, compared with the control group.
Professor Raylene Reimer (University of Calgary, Canada) said of the associated benefits of prebiotic fiber on energy intake: “Given that sustained and meaningful reductions in energy intake are essential to long-term weight management, these findings suggest that prebiotics play an important role and deliver a positive message about adding fiber to the diet in contrast to the traditional advice of simply reducing calories.”
Using Prebiotic Fibers to Reduce Calories
So, how can manufacturers add dietary fiber to foods to promote reduced caloric content, without altering the product’s taste profile? Inulin and oligofructose prebiotic fibers hold the key. Both prebiotic fibers are non-digestible carbohydrates derived from chicory roots and can be used to enrich the fiber content of a wide range of food and drink products. Not only can they be used to add fiber to a product, but they can also be used to reduce the fat or sugar content without altering the product’s taste or texture. Compared to fully available, high glycemic carbohydrates, inulin-type fructans from chicory provide only half the calories. As a result, prebiotic fibers enable food manufacturers to produce lighter versions of traditionally indulgent food products such as ice cream, yogurt, dairy drinks or smoothies that consumers do not want to sacrifice when entering a healthier eating regime.
Blood Glucose Management—Not Only Calories Count
As well as encouraging fewer calories to be consumed by reducing the fat or sugar content of a product, including a greater amount of prebiotic fibers in a daily diet can also help to control an individual’s blood glucose levels. According to a recently published Scientific Consensus Statement developed by an international committee of leading nutrition scientists, from 10 countries on three continents, it was again confirmed there is convincing evidence that low glycemic diets reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, help to control blood glucose in people with diabetes and may also help to manage weight.
Prebiotic fibers such as inulin and oligofructose are non-digestible carbohydrates and can replace high glycemic carbohydrates (such as glucose, sucrose, maltodextrins or starch as in white bread or boiled potatoes) on a weight-by-weight basis, lowering the glycemic profile of the final product. New proprietary research from BENEO, Cosucra and Sensus, has clearly shown the positive impact on blood glucose response when a proportion of the sugars in a product is replaced with the prebiotic fiber oligofructose, which is derived from chicory. The new oligofructose data demonstrate a significantly lower blood glucose response with only 20% replacement.
With prebiotic fibers being such a powerful tool in supporting weight management, it is no wonder that more and more manufacturers are discovering the potential of ingredients such as oligofructose-enriched inulin and oligofructose for new product development. Fortifying foods and beverages with such multifunctional ingredients enables manufacturers to pass these benefits onto their consumers and help them to enjoy their favorite foods and manage their weight at the same time.
1. Source: Khan LK & Bowman BA (1999) Obesity: a major public health problem. Annu Rev Nutr 19, 13-17.
2. Source: McCann MT et al (2011) Oligofructose-enriched inulin supplementation decreases energy intake in overweight and obese men and women. Obes Rev 12 (Suppl 1) 63-279.
3. Source: Cani PD et al (2009) Gut microbiota fermentation of prebiotics increases satietogenic and incretin gut peptide production with consequences for appetite sensation and glucose response after a meal. Am J Clin Nutr 90, 1236-1243.
4. Source : Cani PD et al (2006) Oligofructose promotes satiety in healthy human: a pilot study. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 60: 567-572, 2006.
5. Source: Parnell JA, Reimer RA (2009) Weight loss during oligofructose supplementation is associated with decreased ghrelin and increased peptide YY in overweight and obese adults. Am J Clin Nutr 89 (6) 1751-1759.