Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chew More, Eat Less

Everyone knows it's not polite to wolf down your food. But did you know that eating slowly and deliberately can actually help you to eat less, without efforting to reduce portion size?

Of course it makes sense, and science concurs. Consider this 2011 Chinese study that recruited college students of both high and normal weights to participate. Subjects were videotaped while eating a test breakfast of pork pie divided into pre-measured bite sized pieces, the tapes were reviewed and average number of chews per bite were counted. The purpose of the study included investigating if the number of times each pre-measured bite of food was chewed could be associated with the total amount of food eaten in a sitting.

The researchers found that average number of chews per bite ranged from less than 15 in the fastest eaters to about 40 in the slowest. Average number of chews per bite also correlated with the subjects' weight: obese subjects tended to chew each bite of food less times than did normal weight subjects. But regardless of weight status, all subjects' energy intake was 11.9% lower after 40 chews than after 15 chews per bite. Intentionally focusing on chewing each bite 40 times led to decreased total food intake, even in typically rapid eaters.

Take home message: If you're trying to eat less, chew more! Beyond weight loss support, increased chewing improves blood sugar balance and enhances mood, since the simple act of chewing itself stimulates the release of calming serotonin in the brain.


Li J, et al. Improvement in chewing activity reduces energy intake in one meal and modulates plasma gut hormone concentrations in obese and lean young Chinese men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Sep;94(3):709-16.  []

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