The study followed 15 men with a mean BMI of 22.6 as they drank shakes of varying calorie content and thickness. Some men drank thick shakes of 100 or 500 calories, while others drank thin shakes of 100 or 500 calories. After finishing the shakes, participants received an MRI scan to determine how quickly their stomachs emptied. They also were given sandwiches to eat until they felt full.
The study reported that men who drank thicker shakes felt fuller than their thin-shake-drinking counterparts. Even a 100-calorie thick shake left participants feeling more satisfied than the 500-calorie thin shake.
Our first reaction to these findings was one of unbridled joy, of course.
But after taking a closer look, it quickly became apparent that these shakes are not your average sweet-tooth indulgence. The “milkshakes” these researchers used were closer to low-calorie smoothies and diet shakes, which are -- let’s face it -- not milkshakes. The shakes in the study were made with locust bean gum, a thickening agent. These milkshakes are sounding less and less like something that would bring all the boys to the yard.
Additionally, the study’s small, all-male sample size leaves out women altogether. So this study does not examine how thick, low-calorie milkshakes would affect women’s appetites.
The one upside to the study seems to be the researcher’s findings on perceived fullness, or “phantom fullness.” The men’s perceived fullness was solely due to the increased viscosity of the participants’ beverages. By tricking your body with thicker diet smoothies or shakes, you might stave off hunger pangs. However, more trials are necessary to confirm this.
Study author Guido Campos told Mic that other low-calorie additives like guar gum and xanthan gum can make shakes thicker without adding calories. While these ingredients may sound icky, guar gum and xanthan gum are actually popular food additives that keep ice cream thick and creamy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed it safe to consume guar and xanthan gum, which can also be found in salad dressing and soups.
Moral of the story? The milkshake diet is still a beautiful fantasy. A small chocolate shake from Dairy Queen will blow your sugar intake for the day two times over. It’s a delicious indulgence, but not a diet staple. Let’s not pervert the beauty of a creamy hand spun shake, people. Let yourself enjoy the real deal.