31 December 2013

Slow eating can lead to less hunger later on

Image Credit: Levranii / Shutterstock

You’ve probably been told to slowly chew your food slowly during mealtime, and a new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that eating slowly can help to reduce feelings of hunger later in the day.

The study team set out to investigate what, if any, connection exists between the rate of eating a meal and total calorie consumption, as previous research has indicated that a rapid eating rate may weaken the feedback mechanisms that regulate how much we eat.

In the study, researchers at Texas Christian University (TCU) examined how the rate of eating affects calories consumption in both healthy-weight and overweight or obese subjects. Participants were asked to consume two meals in a controlled setting. The first was eaten at a slow, deliberate pace: participants were told they had no time constraints and instructed to pause and put the spoon down between bites. For the second, ‘fast’ meal, participants were told they had a time constraint, should take large bites, needed to chew quickly, and not pause between bites.

In addition to tracking how many calories were eaten, the investigators also collected data on pre- and post-meal hunger and satiation, as well as water consumption during the meals.

At the conclusion of the trials, the researchers said that they suspected that their results were tainted by participants’ sense of being observed.

“Slowing the speed of eating led to a significant reduction in energy intake in the normal-weight group, but not in the overweight or obese group. A lack of statistical significance in the overweight and obese group may be partly due to the fact that they consumed less food during both eating conditions compared to the normal-weight subjects,” said lead author Meena Shah, a professor of kinesiology at Texas Christian University. “It is possible that the overweight and obese subjects felt more self-conscious, and thus ate less during the study.”

The researchers discovered that the healthy-weight subjects had a statistically significant drop in caloric consumption during the slow meal compared to the fast meal: 88 kcal less for the normal weight group, compared to only 58 kcal less for the overweight or obese group.

Despite a potential tainting of the caloric consumption aspect of the study, researchers discovered that both groups reported being less hungry later on after the slow meal but not after the fast meal.

“In both groups, ratings of hunger were significantly lower at 60 minutes from when the meal began during the slow compared to the fast eating condition,” Shah said. “These results indicate that greater hunger suppression among both groups could be expected from a meal that is consumed more slowly.”

The study team also found that both groups drank more water during the slow meal, 12 ounces compared to 9 ounces during the fast meal.

“Water consumption was higher during the slow compared to the fast eating condition by 27 percent in the normal weight and 33 percent in the overweight or obese group,” Shah said. “The higher water intake during the slow eating condition probably caused stomach distention and may have affected food consumption.”

Now read: Nut consumption reduces risk of death


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