Does Eating Slowly Help You Lose Weight?
Many people eat their food quickly and carelessly. This may lead to weight gain and other health issues. Eating slowly may be a much smarter approach, as it could provide a number of benefits. This article explores the benefits of eating slowly.
Eating too fast can cause weight gain
People who eat quickly tend to weigh more than those who don't. In fact, fast eaters are up to 115% more likely than slower eaters to be obese. They also tend to gain weight over time, which may be partially due to eating too fast.
In one study in over 4,000 middle-aged adults, those who said they ate very fast tended to be heavier and had gained the most body weight since age 20. Another study examined weight change in 529 men over 8 years. Those who reported being fast eaters gained more than twice as much weight as self-described slow or medium-paced eaters.
Eating slowly helps you eat less
Your appetite and calorie intake is largely controlled by hormones. After a meal, your gut suppresses a hormone called ghrelin, which controls hunger, while also releasing fullness hormones. These hormones tell your brain that you have eaten, reducing appetite, making you feel full, and helping you stop eating.
This process takes about 20 minutes, so slowing down gives your brain the time it needs to receive these signals. Eating too quickly often leads to overeating, as your brain doesn't have enough time to receive fullness signals.
Eating slowly can decrease calorie intake
In one study, people with normal weight or overweight ate at different paces. Both groups ate fewer calories during the slowest-paced meal, although the difference was only statistically significant in the normal-weight group. All participants also felt fuller for longer after eating more slowly, reporting less hunger 60 minutes after the slow meal than after the fast one.
This spontaneous reduction in calorie intake should lead to weight loss over time.
Eating slowly promotes thorough chewing
To eat slowly, you need to chew your food thoroughly before swallowing. This can help you reduce calorie intake and lose weight.
In one study, researchers asked 45 people to eat pizza until full while chewing at different rates - normal, 1.5 times more than normal, and twice the normal rate. The average calorie intake decreased by 9.5% when people chewed 1.5 times more than normal and nearly 15% when they chewed twice as much as usual.
However, there may be a limit to how much chewing you can do and still enjoy a meal. One study found that chewing each bite for 30 seconds reduced snacking later on - but also significantly reduced meal enjoyment.
How to slow down and lose weight
Here's some advice to help you start eating more slowly:
- Avoid extreme hunger. It's hard to eat slowly when you're very hungry. To prevent extreme hunger, keep some healthy snacks on hand.
- Chew more. Count how many times you normally chew a bite of food, then double that amount. You may be surprised at how little you usually chew.
- Set your utensils down. Putting down your fork between bites of food will help you eat more slowly and savor each bite.
- Eat foods that need chewing. Focus on fibrous foods that require a lot of chewing, such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Fibre can also promote weight loss.
- Drink water. Make sure to drink plenty of water or other zero-calorie beverages with your meals.
- Be patient. Change takes time, as it takes about 66 days for a new behavior to become a habit.
Eating too quickly can lead to weight gain and decreased enjoyment of food. However, slowing down can increase fullness and promote weight loss. It also provides other health benefits. If you minimize your screen time, chew more, and focus on high-fibre foods, you'll be well on your way to slower eating.