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It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the prevalence of overweight and obesity is still climbing. You might be sick of hearing about it, but there’s no denying that the issue is still as big as it was 5 and even 10 years ago. Estimates of up to 2 billion overweight people and 1 billion obese people by 2030 is a sobering thought and an issue that needs to be addressed quickly. While overweight and obesity is a multifactorial issue, at the heart of it lies one major factor; the mismatch between energy intake and energy output. While food composition is an important aspect, total energy intake is always going to be a much more prevalent feature of the problem of weight gain.

Pharmacological, surgical and behavioural means of reducing energy intake make up some of the most common treatments, however there has always been an interest in how food and nutrition can actually help us suppress voluntary intake. One ingredient of interest in recent years has been the use of different types of fibre. Dietary fibre have unique physical and chemical properties which help to not only result in early signs of fullness or satiety, but also prolongs that feeling. One particular fibre being studied for its ability to suppress energy intake is polydextrose.

Polydextrose is a glucose polymer which is completely soluble in water and provides similar textures to foods as table sugar (sucrose), but with only a quarter of the calories. It is now considered a dietary fibre in more than 20 countries and a recent systematic review and meta analysis by Ibarra et al has shown that it can be a useful tool to help with weight loss.

In the systematic review and meta analysis, 6 studies were included and found that supplementing with 6.25g – 25g of polydextrose just before a main meal could:

  • Reduce subsequent energy intake at the main meal by an average of 12.5%
  • Reduce total daily energy intake

Although the last result was not significant, there was still a promising trend of polydextrose to be able to help minimise energy intake and therefore help support weight loss.

Practical Applications

Battling the rise of a multifactorial issue such as obesity requires using multiple methods. One of these is adjusting your consumption patterns to include more dietary fibre in your lifestyle. One of these dietary fibres; polydextrose, can help to decrease energy intake at a subsequent meal and can actually support a small decrease in overall daily calorie consumption. Men tend to experience this effect better than women, but regardless, having more polydextrose will tend to have a stronger effect on decreasing your energy intake. Aim to have 6.5g-25g a day and before main meals for best results.

1. Ibarra A, Astbury NM, Olli K, Alhoniemi E, Tiihonen K. ‘Effects of polydextrose on different levels of energy intake. A systematic review and meta-analysis.’ Appetite. 2014 Dec 12. pii: S0195-6663(14)00652-7.

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