Can Weight Affect Your Ability to Taste Fat?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Have you ever noticed whether or not you can easily taste the fat in foods? New research is exploring the relationship between your taste buds and your waistline. The surprising results could add a sixth taste to the current five: salty, bitter, sweet, sour and umami--the ability to taste fat. It could also shed some light on the differences between overweight and normal weight individuals.

Austrailian researchers gave 50 people a liquid and then measured their ability to detect fat using only their taste buds. The results were published in the British Journal of Nutrition. The study found a link between BMI and sensitivity to fat. The higher the BMI, the less likely the participant was to taste fat. Thinner participants also consumed less of the product when the fat concentrations were high. Researchers concluded that overweight and obese people may be desensitized to the taste of fat.

According to lead researcher Dr. Russell Keast, “With fats being easily accessible and commonly consumed in diets today, this suggests that our taste system may become desensitised to the taste of fat over time, leaving some people more susceptible to overeating fatty foods."

I've noticed that my taste preferences have changed over the years as my diet became healthier. In my college years, French fries and donuts were a standard part of my diet. But when I eat those kinds of things these days, either they don't taste as good as I remember, or I can't eat as much of them because it makes me sick. I think my taste buds have definitely gotten used to healthy foods (although they still love a good piece of chocolate cake now and then) and crave that good stuff.

What do you think? If you've recently changed your diet, have your taste preferences changed? What do you think about the results of this small study?

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Since using extra virgin olive oil as the main fat in my diet. I crave hard, chewy, crunchy, foods.I use croutons for hard and crunchy, peanut chews for chewy. Yes I add in my daily foods. Report
This explains a lot -- I thought cookies were tasting different than they did a few years ago. I chalked it up to switching away from trans fats, but now I'm wondering if I'm just not more sensitive to the fat in them. I wonder if this applies to sugar too, because being off extra sugar makes me REALLY sensitive to the sugars in fruits. Hmm. Report
When I'm eating healthy for a while and I go out and have a high fat meal, my body feels the difference. Not just tasting it, but I feel it coming out my pores and just feel awful. Report
Very interesting! I've noticed that as I've put the pounds on over the years I can choke down quite a bit of fast food without hesitating, something I couldn't do when I was thin. Now that I'm on my way to being thin again, I'm hoping my tastes will change for the better. Sure would make the lifestyle change easier! Report
I can now detect the unappealing flavor of processed foods. They have a taste that has become completely unappetizing to me. I tasted a pretzel the other day and it tasted like well seasoned cardboard. And to think, in the past I was able to eat three serving of pretzels in one sitting! Report
I totally agree that tastes change as we grow and change our diets. I mean, when I was a child I ate some things that I thought were good, but if I eat them now they are actually kind of gross lol. And I've been trying my hardest to cut sugar out of my diet (that is, to drastically reduce) and I've noticed that if I try to eat donuts or cakes or even sugar-sweetened cereal, most of it is so sweet it's almost sickening. Report
I'm starting to get the fat-aversion too! And it's WONDERFUL. I can't say that I taste the fat, or that I don't enjoy the taste, but I DEFINITELY am more aware of the horrible, sluggish way it makes me feel after I have a 'weak moment'.
Yesterday I walked past a picture of a jelly donut & felt sick just looking at it! Report
I am afraid to confess that I love the taste of fat. I enjoy so much chicken skin that now I take it off when chicken is still raw to avoid eating it. I avoided (now I do) lean cuts of beef because I also loved the fat on a rib eye for example. Now, I conscioussly avoid the fatty foods, but I definitely can tell the fatty taste and adore it. Report
I never was one to eat fatty foods. I have never liked the taste. I do agree however that you can become desensitized to the taste. Report
I've actually noticed this too since I started eating healthier! It is extremely rare when I have a craving for something fatty (except chocolate, of course!); last time I had a Big Mac I did not enjoy nearly as much as I used to. I actually began regretting I didn't get a salad!
And don't even get me started on salt... ;-) Report
I don't know if my taste buds have changed but I sure think twice about what I eat now. Report
I'm still eating unhealthy and I'm overweight but I can taste fat and grease like there is no tomorrow. It was one of the few 'benefits' from being horribly sick last year. High fatty foods make me feel queezy almost right away and I'm down for the weekend. It's forced me to eat a bit healthier, or rather to find healthier versions of foods I love which has been fun within itself.

Luckily for me this means fast food is practically impossible unless its a char-grilled sandwich from chick-fil-a or a sub or salad. As for potato chips and I...we haven't gotten along in over nine years. The smell of them still makes me nauseous. Report
I agree when I am eating healthily there is definitely a bad taste when eating the unhealthy foods. I tend to make better choices when exercizing because why work against your efforts." If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the pollution" by unknown. Report
my taste and digestion has definitely changed. Foods that I once loved taste just ok to me and some of my favorite foods now even make me feel sick. It has made it easy to give up certain foods. Report
WOW..I thought it was me! I'm starting to use fat/cravefatty foods. I'm over the carbs not it's this. I was wondering if there was such thing as fat I know. thanx Report
Mine have changed. I thought it was because I was getting older and was having trouble
with some of the foods I ate when I was younger, but you have given me a new insight to what might be te problem! Report
Mine have changed tremendously. I believe that you can change what you taste and this is right with what I think. Report
Since I started eating healthier and reducing the amount of sugar in my diet, I find that I am much more sensitive to sugar and fats than I used to be. Report
Since changing my eating habits, I too do not like the taste of donuts or other sugary foods. Also deep fried foods make me sick and I taste the artificial flavors and fats in processed foods. Yuck! Report
Fat is like heroin, we crave it when were sad and we use it to celebrate our achievements. Just like a heroin addict, it takes time to detox from them. Report
I've had an aversion to fat and fatty foods since childhood. Food that has a high fat content actually makes me nauseous. Nonetheless, I have a weight problem. My problem is cummulative and I have to watch out for those foods that have a smaller fat content, but which add up to more grams/day than I need or want. Report
Sounds about right. These days, I still enjoy fries and other fatty items, but I can't (and don't) eat as much of them nor eat them as often. A few bites is more than enough to satisfy a craving without getting into gorge mode. Report
I agree with this study. I find if I eat more salads and lean proteins, the good for you stuff, I don't enjoy fast food or fried food or sugary foods. If I start eating the fast food then it makes me sick until I get used to it and then I want to eat it all the time. I really enjoy the fact that I would rather have fruit than cake. I never thought that would be me. Report
I believe it. Actually , to be honest, when I was at Weight Watchers, the instructor said that several years ago. She said that unfortunately, it's the Fat( and calories) that" makes the food we want, tasty." She meant, from the point of view of a person who eats that stuff. Many people mentioned that when we stop eating that stuff, the fat starts to seem "disgusting." And we go for the healthy food. But as soon as we go back to the Fat food ( Fast Food) we want more. I no longer crave the Fast food. I still love chocolate, and bread. But I just tell myself that it's not worth the "sorry" feeling later, after I've eaten it. I find that I often
have to literally tell myself that I don't want the result later. What is it they say? A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips. No thanks. Report
That's an interesting concept. When I thought about it it made sense though. I used to LOVE McDonald's fries. I would eat the whole container before I even made it home with the rest of my meal. Now, I can't even finish the medium-sized one without feeling sick to my stomach. Report
Crazy, that is what i think. I can't taste fat, one of the reasons i am switching to
healthier is whenever i ate unhealthier foods my stomach would start hurting.
and after my stomach operation to remove my apendix ans 6 to 7 inches of intestine back in 2004 i don't want to go back to unhealthy foods Report
I'm not sure what to think. I *can* taste the fat; the problem is that I like the taste so it is hard to give up. What I can't taste is flavor in healthy foods--or at least not as easily. Nor do I enjoy it as much as fries or pizza or... Report
I definitely agree. I ate some potato chips the other day and all I could taste was grease and salt. YUCK! Actually, there are several foods I used to enjoy that now all I can taste is salt. Report
I never thought to explore that idea...and what a fantastic one at that. It can help to explain a lot for some individuals, not necessarily giving them an excuse as to why they eat the way they do, but moreso, a logical reason that they do and armed with that knowledge, they can do something about it! Thanks so much for the insight! Report
What a gret concept. The more I think about this the more I can relate and understand it. As well as being able to taste/feel the fat that is ingested I can also recognize the difference between the energy taken from the foods with higher fats and lower fats. Once I became aware, my food perception has inevitably changed! Thanks Report
Very interesting to say the least. I would like to see more research done on this topic. Report
I agree with this article. I've notice too that the healthier the food is the better it tastes now that I cut a lot of junk food out of my diet. I hopeknowing this can help us all in making great choices in life, well at least with the food we eat. Report
I agree with this article wholeheartedly. When I went for several months of eating a very low-fat diet, I could detect even the slightest amounts of fat, and I was sickened by foods that I had eaten a lot previously. I had to run for the bathroom after eating a "normal" slice of birthday cake. Now that I am eating more fat in my diet, I haven't gotten sick again. Report
This is an interesting take on a principle I was taught 20 years ago. I was told that fat was an acquired taste and the more you ate the more you would want. Watch "Super-size Me." The first meal made him sick to his stomach, but he wanted more almost immediately and began to crave fatty foods to the exclusion of other food interests. Decades ago, after being on the Scarsdale (no-fat and few carbs) diet for three months even the smell of of greasy foods made me nauseated. It's the same today. I eat very little fat, but when I indulge, I find myself wanting more afterward, thinking about the taste and texture. The effect is that I can spot fat loaded foods on first bite even though I am still over-weight. Report
If you would have asked me this question a year ago when I started this journey I would have told you you were crazy! However, It is so noticeable now! I remember the first couple of times it was evident I thought the oil in which it was cooked was maybe rancid. Until I realized everything greasy tasted that way!
I must say it's a great deterrent to feeding those old habits! Report
I also agree with this. After a month of eating junk food at all on purpose. The first time having some KFC chicken it was not enjoyable at all. Which at first I did not understand but it just didn't taste as good as I remembered it had. Funny how the body works. You feed it crap it craves and wants crap. You feed it healthy foods that are good for it and the body starts to crave and want that. Report
I know when I have been eating healthy then the old stuff that has too much fat in it doesn't taste as good and it really messes with my stomach. Report
This is soo true, when I am eating healthy I don't want fatty foods and I hate the taste/texture of the fat in my mouth, but when I go on a chocolate binge I can't get enough. That then leads to me eating other fatty foods and the taste/texture thing has gone the chocolate must desensatise my mouth. Scary thought. Report
Yes, yes, yes. I totally understand this! When I get to eating fats, like chips and that sort of thing, I simply cannot get enough! When I do without large amounts of fats, I do not like the feel of the fat on my tongue. I can't feel the fat on my tongue when I am consuming a great deal of it. Report
This makes perfect sense to me.
Not only do I taste the fat now that I have changed my eating habits but I find the feeling of all that greasy fat coating my teeth and the inside of my mouth so revolting.
I thought it would be nice to treat myself to a Dunkin Donut and found I could not eat it. It was like biting into a wad of sweetened Crisco.
On another occassion I tried a Krispy Creme Donut and the same thing happened. All I wanted to do was go brush my teeth.
I used to love donuts! Lots of donuts!
I gave up soda and sweet tea ( Unheard of here in the South! ) for over a year.
I also gradually lessened the sugar in my coffee until I learned to enjoy it with a little skim milk only.
It astonished me to realize that apples, bananas, oranges and all other fruits began to taste as sweet as candy. Wow! Who knew?
I ordered the steamed broccolli with a burger at a restaurant the other day and the waiter thought I was nuts. "What? No fries?"
I prefer my own homemade seasoned oven baked fries over deep fried anyday.
He also said that I was the first person to ever ask him for a club soda. LOL
I've been drinking skim milk for so long now that I cannot drink whole milk. I don't even like it in my tea or coffee anymore, either.
I used to dump in loads sugar and cream without a second thought. That tastes so gross to me now.

If only I felt the same way about Hellman's Real Mayonaise. LOL

I don't know if "taste" is what I do in detecting fat...I think for me it is more like a texture. You know, that oily coating of your mouth feeling. Report
Every year I go for sugar on snow with my family; it has become a real tradition and something I look forward to. Recently I've been a lot better about my eating, and this time when I went I found the maple sugar to be too sweet. It really took away from the enjoyment. Although it's sad that I'm not able to receive the same amount of pleasure out of it, I'm excited that my efforts are making a difference. Report
I've definitely noticed a difference in my taste buds and my food choices are reflecting that. Candy and sugary foods no longer entice. Give me protein! When I eat right, I feel right. When I eat junk, I feel like junk. Report
I agree, I can really taste the fat when I have been eating healthy food for a while. When I was younger the fatty foods tasted much better and of course my food choices were not very good. I am a sweet eater and I don't think chocolate or many other sweets will ever taste bad so moderation is the key with sweets. Report
I agree, the better I eat, the more the bad stuff turns me off. Report
Hmmm, I've never cared for fatty stuff overall, especially greasy fat. But it's not just the taste, it's the texture. Report
that is so true the better you choose yo eat the worse the old stuff tastes, I use to have a greasy old burge 5-6 times a week, now it makes my stomach churn Report
I recently had an interesting experience! When I started SparkPeople one of my first goals was to do without fast food, and I did without for four months. Since then I've had one or two carefully thought fast food meals. Last weekend, I ate only fast food for three days. It made me so sick that it took two days for my system to recover. As of right now, I have absolutely NO desire to have fast food any time in the near future. That might mean I'm cured!!! LOLOL Report
I now have no desire to eat a fast food hamburger or fries---just the thought of all that grease makes my tongue feel as if there is a fat coating on it. YUK Report
DEFINITELY! i ate lunch on the run the other day (McDonald's for the first time in MONTHS) and i felt insanely icky while eating and for hours afterward. also, tonight, i had a dessert and my first thought was "wow i can taste the butter in this". i've found myself craving things OTHER than cookies and cake, which i think is great. now i reach for a yogurt or fruit if i want something sweet! Report
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