Weight Loss Secret Revealed: Chew More to Eat Less

Weight loss may be as simple as chewing your food, which research shows lead people to consume fewer calories. But is a meal chewed to mush still appetizing?

Your mother always said to chew your food so you wouldn’t choke, but she may not have realized she was passing along a weight loss tip, as well. Adults who chew a bite of food 40 times rather than the normal 15 times during a meal take in 12 percent fewer calories, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The slower you chew, the more time the digestive track has to signal that you are full. This feeling of satiety leads you to stop eating sooner, and therefore consume fewer calories. But the research team from Harbin Medical University in China also found a connection between more chewing and lower blood levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates the appetite, and higher levels of CCK, a hormone that is believed to reduce the appetite. In other words, taking time to chew could help your body switch off hunger signals sooner.

The study examined 14 obese young men and 16 young men of normal weight. The participants were fed a typical breakfast twice. The first time participants were told to eat their meal in a normal manner to compare how the two groups consume their food. Researchers found that the obese men chewed less and ate at a faster pace than the normal weight men, although there was no difference in the size of bites they took. In their second meal, the participants were asked to chew each mouthful of food 40 times. Findings showed that the more each participant chewed, the less calories they consumed.

A similar study at the University of Rhode Island in 2008 measured weight change among 30 women who were given the same meal on two occasions. The first time the women were asked to eat as fast as they could; the second time they were asked to eat very slowly and to chew each bite 20 to 30 times. Participants ate about 70 fewer calories during the meal when they ate slowly.

If the average person cuts calorie intake by 12 percent, they will lose nearly 25 pounds in one year, commented Adam Drewnowski, director of University of Washington Center for Obesity Research in Seattle, in an interview with Reuters. Drewnowski was not involved with the study.

Although chewing food longer could trigger the body to stop eating sooner — and concentrating while eating can also promote a feeling of satisfaction from a meal — masticating a meal to mush may not be the most appetizing option for many people. Said Drewnowski, “I suppose that if you chew each bite of food 100 times or more you may end up eating less. However, I am not sure that this is a viable obesity prevention measure.”

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