In our last post, we began building the foundation for healthy eating by defining nutritional density, and we used it as a guide for structuring meals.  Today, we’ll explain hyperpalatability and how to avoid overeating.

The “palatability” of food is a measure of the neurological reward associated with eating it.  Highly “palatable” foods tend to:

  • Make you crave more of that food (and other foods), increasing the total amount you eat

  • Suppress hunger signals, making you hungrier overall

  • Be denser in calories with a mixture of fat, salt, and/or sugar

  • Be very easy to consume

  • Have strong textural & flavor properties such as being crunchy or salty

It’s easy to see the potential to over eat calorically dense foods that increase hunger and cravings.  There is a large body of research regarding food reward and palatability.  You can read summaries from obesity researcher Dr. Stephan Guyenet in the references below (1,2).

Examples of hyperpalatable foods include: donuts, croissants, Pumpkin Spice Latte, kettle corn, potato chips, sodas, beer, waffles, energy bars, salted nuts (healthy in smaller quantities, but the crunch + salt + fat + dense calories = overeating bonanza), nut “clusters” or mixes (even if listed as “Healthy” or “Paleo”), breakfast cereals and bars.  Click here for many more examples

Eating nutritionally dense foods while avoiding hyperpalatable foods will, in general, satisfy hunger without leading to excessive caloric consumption.  This leads us back to our recommendation from PART 1 of this series: build meals and snacks around lean meats, vegetables, roots & tubers, fruits, and some nuts.

In PART 3 of this series, we will layout KINETICOACH’s Nutrition Rules for the Road: Planning & Preparing.



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