Dr. Walt's Health Blog

People who eat slowly consume fewer calories

Did your mom, like mine, emphasize chewing your food slowly? Now we know she was right. Here’s why.

USA Today reports that according to research presented at the Obesity Society meeting, “people who eat slowly tend to consume fewer calories and weigh less than those who eat quickly.”

What’s more, those who take their time eating “report enjoying their food more and having greater satiety.”

One researcher explained that eating more slowly “allows fullness and enjoyment to register in the brain before too much food is consumed.”

Researchers at the University of Rhode Island are examining consumption rates. In one study of 60 young adults who ate a lunch in a lab setting, the scientists found:

  • Those who ate slowly consumed 2 ounces of food a minute; medium-speed eaters, 2.5 ounces a minute; fast eaters, 3.1 ounces a minute.
  • Men tended to eat more food per minute than women.

“Faster eaters take larger bite sizes and chew less before swallowing,” says Kathleen Melanson, director of the university’s Energy Balance Laboratory. She presented her findings this week at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society in Orlando.

It’s believed that slower eating allows fullness and enjoyment to register in the brain before too much food is consumed, Melanson says.

To try to slow down your eating rate, select high-fiber foods that take more time to chew, such as apples, pears, carrots, broccoli and air-popped popcorn, says Barbara Rolls, a nutrition professor at Pennsylvania State University.

Eat “with all your senses and in no less than 20 minutes, which is the time required for the brain to interpret the satiety signal,” suggests Mireille Guiliano, author of French WomenDon’t Get Fat. “For this to happen, one must eat slowly and chew well.”

Focus on the meal and don’t multitask by watching TV or working at the computer, she says.

The role consumption rate plays in obesity is still under investigation, but data so far suggest that it may be a factor in some cases, Melanson says.

No matter what your rate, calories count. “If you are eating for 20 minutes at 100 calories a minute, that’s a lot. But if you are eating for 20 minutes at 20 calories a minute, that’s not a lot, and it gives your body time to realize it’s full.”

So, to paraphrase a song by Simon & Garfunkel, “Slow down, you chew too fast, you gotta make your dinner last …”

One Response to “People who eat slowly consume fewer calories”

  1. Sheryl Oder writes:

    I love that paraphrase! Unfortunately, those who have little time to eat at work learn they must finish their meal quickly. It seems to carry over to their meals at home.

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