Does a high-fat meal influence fat taste thresholds?

Eating a high-fat diet has been shown to affect individuals’ ability to detect fat in foods over a long period of time, but can a single meal have a significant impact as well?

A 2016 study published in Appetite examined the potential effects of a high-fat breakfast on individuals’ fat taste thresholds. The study is significant because previous research has linked low sensitivity to fat tastes with high body-mass index (BMI).

“[Previous findings suggest] there is a possible association between dietary fat and fat taste thresholds which warrants further investigation,” said Russell Keast, corresponding author of the study.

“Therefore, this study aimed to determine the effect of a high-fat…low-fat…or macronutrient balanced meal on fat taste thresholds,” he continued.

Thirty-two participants took a baseline fat threshold sensitivity test on the first day of the study. On a subsequent day, they were given either a high-fat (60% fat: 20% carbohydrate: 20% protein), low-fat (20% fat: 40% carbohydrate: 40% protein) or macronutrient balanced (33.3% fat: 33.3% carbohydrate: 33.3% protein) meal, and then were immediately tested for fat taste thresholds.

Contrary to the team’s hypothesis, eating a meal high in fat did not have an immediate and direct effect on fat thresholds. Those who ate the high-fat breakfast did not experience a more significant decrease in fat taste sensitivity than those who ate a low-fat or balanced meal.

“The fact that there were no significant differences found between testing days and across testing sessions suggests that short-term fat intake and macronutrient composition does not influence fat taste thresholds,” said Keast.

These findings contradict the previously held belief that high-fat meals have an immediate impact on an individual’s ability to detect fat in foods.