Eating too fast has always been associated with bad table manners. Guzzling one’s food can be construed as an insult to the chef, whether it’s in a four-star restaurant or in the family dining room. New scientific studies show that in addition to being boorish social behavior, eating too fast can have a negative impact on your body weight.
After Eating Too Fast, You Still Feel Hungry
Weight loss programs like Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem tend to discourage fast eating. Anecdotal evidence suggests that eating quickly increases the total amount of food consumed at a meal. The theory is that you can eat faster than your brain can register the food intake, and you wind up eating much more food than is actually needed to balance your energy expenditure.
A study conducted at the University of Rhode Island and published in the 2008 Journal of the American Dietetic Association has proven what had been suspected all along. The study’s goal, as set by Dr Andrade and colleagues, was to discover empirical evidence that reducing the rate of food intake could have a positive effect on body weight. To this purpose, 30 healthy women were tested on two occasions in order to compare the effects of slow and fast eating. Satiety, the feeling of having had enough food, was the primary touchstone of the test.
On the fast-eating day the test subjects, armed with a soupspoon, were given lunch and told to eat at a comfortable rate, but with no pauses between bites. On the slow-eating day, the test subjects were given a teaspoon and told to take small bites, to put the utensil down between bites, and to chew each bite of food twenty to thirty times. The results showed that when the test subjects ate quickly, their satiety was lower even though they had consumed more food. When the test subjects ate slowly, they ate less food, experienced satiety before all of their food was consumed, and reported enjoying the meal more.
When You Gobble Your Food, You Eat More
Recent years have seen increased knowledge in the mechanics of appetite control. Immediately following a meal, the gut experiences hormonal changes that affect the hypothalamus and regulate hunger, feelings of satiety, and total number of calories consumed. These changes include a decrease in the peptide ghrelin, which is an orexigenic hormone, meaning it stimulates appetite. Simultaneously, there is a rise in anorexigenics (appetite suppressants) in the form of peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide, also known as GLP-1.
A crossover study, published in the 2010 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, examined whether eating slowly would result in increased satiety. Kokkinos and his team at Athens University Medical School sought to measure satiety hormones in the gut. Specifically, the researchers wanted to know whether eating more slowly would result in more anorexigenic peptides and fewer orexigenic peptides.
For the study, 17 healthy male volunteers were given 300 ml (or about 10 ounces) of ice cream on two different occasions. During the first session, the ice cream was divided into two portions, which the test subjects consumed within 5 minutes. For the second session, the ice cream was divided into 7 equal portions, which were eaten over the course of half an hour. During the clinical session, which lasted three and a half hours, blood samples were drawn before the meal and at 30-minute intervals in order to measure the anorexigenic and orexigenic peptides, as well as glucose, plasma lipids, and insulin levels.
Appetite suppressing peptides (PYY and GLP-1) were significantly greater after the 30-minute dessert than after the 5-minute dessert, which proved that eating quickly results in fewer appetite suppressing hormones. In addition, unrestrained energy intake was higher when the ice cream was eaten quickly, and lower when it was eaten more slowly. After meal completion, satiety was higher for the slow-food group.
Wolfing Down Your Food WILL Make You Fat
The above two studies essentially found that eating fast makes you feel more hungry and as a result consume more food. But could this really affect your weight? To complement these findings, a study published in the British Medical Journal sought to examine whether eating too fast could result in being overweight or obese.
The Mayurama cross-sectional survey examined the data collected from 4140 Japanese adults, who were asked in a questionnaire to rate the pace at which they consumed their meals, from slow to very fast. Those who answered that they ate their meals “fast” or “very fast” combined with “eating until full” had the highest values for body mass index, weight, and caloric consumption. Those who did not eat quickly and did not eat until full had the lowest incidence of being overweight and the lowest energy intake. This study scientifically validated the warning that “wolfing down your food will make you fat.”
We can now understand why Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers, the two biggest commercial weight loss programs recommend that we eat our food slowly. More about Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, and their coupon codes in this blog.
How to Stop Eating So Fast
Some habits are deeply ingrained. If your parents always told you to clean your plate, you may find it difficult to stop eating until you have consumed every morsel of your meal. So the first step is to cut down on the portion size of the food on your plate. That way you can satisfy the nagging voice in your head without adding to your body mass index.
Next, take small bites, chew your food thoroughly, and set your utensil down between mouthfuls. Try using a small fork or spoon, or even chopsticks, to slow down the rate of food consumption. Watching television while eating can distract you from truly savoring your meal. Try to pay attention to and enjoy your food’s aromas and flavors.
If you absolutely must have something sweet at the end of the meal, allow a full 20 minutes to pass before indulging. At that point, you may find that the urge to continue eating has passed. If not, then select a slimming option such as nonfat yogurt, and use the same technique of small portions and small bites.
Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the most effective. You may find yourself better able to adhere to your weight loss program, just by ending the habit of eating too fast.