A small new study published in the journal Appetite found that having an a.m. drink made with spinach extract practically eliminated junk-food cravings, which led to steady weight loss in a group of study subjects. See below for details on the study. And in the meantime, go ahead and consider this a science-endorsed reason to begin your day with a yummy spinach smoothie. You might want to start with one of these spinach smoothies we found on Instagram.
Researchers worked with 38 overweight women for three months. They instructed all the women to eat three balanced meals a day, resist snacking, exercise 30 minutes daily, and consume a green drink before breakfast every morning. Half the women drank a beverage that contained five grams of spinach extract, while the other half were given a placebo in their drink. At the end of the study period, the women who consumed the spinach extract reported experiencing very little hunger and found it easier to stick to the three meals a day—and as a result, they lost an average of 11 pounds. Meanwhile, the placebo group only dropped an average of 7.7 pounds. "Our analyses show that having a drink containing thylakoids before breakfast reduces cravings and keeps you feeling more satisfied all day," said study author Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, professor of medicine and physiological chemistry at Lund University, in a news release.
How It Works
The key ingredients in the spinach extract are thylakoids, the scientific name for spinach's green membranes. It takes a while for the body to break down this part of the leaf, slowing down digestion. The slower digestion suppresses what's called hedonic hunger—cravings for sugary or junk products (as opposed to homeostatic hunger, the kind that ramps up when we need to fill our basic energy needs). Modern processed food is digested so quickly, the researchers say, that the intestinal hormones, which are supposed to send satiety signals to the brain, get out of whack. As a result, we crave junky food...and slowly gain weight.