WHEN TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT, YOU SPEND A LOT OF TIME STRESSING ABOUT “WHAT” AND “WHEN” TO EAT. ALTHOUGH THIS IS IMPORTANT, NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO “HOW” YOU EAT MAY BE HOLDING YOU BACK FROM OPTIMIZING YOUR PROGRESS.
READ ON TO LEARN THE MANY HUNGER-FIGHTING BENEFITS YOU CAN REAP BY PAYING ATTENTION TO “HOW” YOU EAT!
Hunger is inevitable during a diet. However, the more angles you can attack hunger from, the more manageable it becomes.
When you eat is also important because the longer you go between meals, the stronger hunger becomes. And this often leads to choosing a candy bar (or three) in place of a protein bar if you go too long between meals.
But an underappreciated strategy to tackle hunger head on involves paying attention to how you eat, specifically the speed at which you eat. It turns out that the slower you eat, the stronger the hunger-suppressing effect.
Read slowly to better understand how slowing down the speed you eat at just may be the hunger-fighting tool you need to finish this diet strong!
WHY SPEED MATTERS?
There is an intricate relationship between your gut and your brain. When food reaches your stomach and small intestine, there are a variety of responses that occur to communicate feelings of hunger from your gut to the appetite control center in your brain. For instance, when protein reaches the stomach, Cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone released from the small intestine, is released and works to send satiety signals to your brain.
When you rush through your meal you don’t provide enough time to allow these signals to reach the appetite control center in your brain – a process may take 15 – 20 minutes. This results in you missing out on feeling psychologically full. Sure, you may feel physically full within minutes, but a short while later you’re left feeling hungry again, despite having just eaten less than an hour ago.
A study conducted at Texas Christian University sought to learn the impact eating speed had on appetite and calories consumed.1 Over 70 subjects were instructed to eat freely from a large portion of pasta with peppers, onions, garlic, and olive oil. They were also provided with 12 ounces of water.
Subjects participated in both a “fast” and “slow” eating protocol on separate occasions. During the “fast” phase, subjects were prompted to eat “as if they were on a time constraint” and to “take as big a bite as possible.” During the “slow” phase, they were prompted to chew each bite thoroughly and to set their utensil down between bites.
Researchers observed and prompted subjects appropriately throughout each phase.
On average, the those in the “fast” group consumed their meal in 9 minutes. Those in the “slow” group, on the other hand, took an average of 21 minutes.
Those in the “fast” group averaged 102 calories per minute, whereas those in the “slow” group averaged 39 calories per minute.
In total, those in the “fast” group averaged 99 more calories compared to the “slow” group.
This may seem insignificant, but imagine if this occurs multiple times per day…
…day after day…
Yea, it adds up.
BUT WHAT IF I PORTION MY FOOD OUT AHEAD OF TIME?
Even if you have already measured out your portions and have no possible way to overeat, it’s still likely that you’ll experience elevated hunger soon after your meal if you rush through it. When subjects in the study went through the “slow” phase, they reported significantly less hunger at multiple points across the next few hours compared to when in the “fast” group.
Why did it occur?
Well, it takes time for satiety signals to be sent to your brain. If you scarf down your food you outwork these signals and never achieve that full feeling. Researchers also attributed this long-lasting fullness partly to their observation that those in the slow-eating group drank more water during their meal versus those in the fast-eating group.
Hmmm…If I recall, drinking water has some kind of benefit in regards to reducing appetite…
STRATEGIES TO SLOOOOOOW DOWN
- Take Smaller Bites
Cut your food into tiny pieces, like the size of a corn kernel or pea. This will increase the number of bites that need to be taken, which will slow you down.
- Chew Thoroughly
Aim for 15-20 chews per bite. Seriously, grind that food up! Your taste buds are located on your tongue – make sure each one experiences that piece of food while you’re chewing.
- Put Your Utensil Down Between Bites
Set your utensil on the table after each bite. And maybe even consider taking a sip of water before your next bite.
ONE LAST POINT
You won’t be able to incorporate these strategies each time you eat, but every bit of effort counts. Even increasing the duration if takes to eat that protein bar from 5 – 10 minutes could be enough to hold you over until dinner time and prevent you from raiding the cookie jar as soon as you walk in the door.
Make a conscious effort to slow down and you’ll experience less hunger throughout the day!
- Rhea, D., Shah, M., Copeland, J., Dart, L., Adams-Huet, B., & James, A. (2014). Slower Eating Speed Lowers Energy Intake in Normal-Weight but not Overweight/Obese Subjects. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(3), 393-402. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2013.11.002.