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More MSG for Weight Loss

MSG or monosodium glutamate is a common food additive which is meant to impart a savoury ‘umami’ taste to foods. This umami taste is thought to enhance the meat flavour of certain dishes and to even impart meat flavours to non-meat containing dishes. However, it may do more than just add flavour, a recent study was able to find that adding MSG to foods may in fact help with weight loss by reducing intakes of certain foods.

In the study, 86 women were given three different types of preloads over 3 different weeks before being allowed to choose and eat as much as they wanted from a range of 16 different snack foods of differing taste and fat levels. These 3 preloads included:

  • Low Energy Chicken Flavour Broth (200mL)
  • Low Energy Chicken Flavour Broth with MSG (200mL with 1g of MSG)
  • Low Energy Chicken Flavour Broth with MSG & IMP* (200mL with 0.5g of MSG & IMP)

The conclusion of the study found that while appetite ratings were not different between the three preloads, the added MSG only group ate less in terms of overall energy intake and also ate less snacks containing high fat and high sugar levels.

Practical Applications

Monosodium glutamate or MSG has had a fairly rough history with many anecdotal reports of unpleasant side effects from MSG consumption. However, the general scientific consensus is that the ingredient is safe for general populations at levels commonly found in and added to foods. In fact, with this study, it might be even beneficial in altering hunger levels towards certain high energy, high fat and high sugar foods. This may provide a useful and simple way to maintain compliance to a weight loss diet and supplement regime. Just remember, MSG is still a source of sodium, which you should avoid having too much of.

*IMP – Inosine Monophosphate 5, another common flavour enhancer

Imada T, Hao SS, Torii K, Kimura E. ‘Supplementing chicken broth with monosodium glutamate reduces energy intake from high fat and sweet snacks in middle-aged healthy women.’ Appetite. 2014 Apr 23;79C:158-165. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.04.011.

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