Does Eating Slowly Help to Lose Weight?

24th April 2020
It's commonplace to eat lunch or dinner in a hurry in order to fulfill other obligations. However, taking all the time we need to eat has many benefits.

Losing weight is something you can achieve with a very simple equation: eating fewer calories than you expend. However, there are different mechanisms and strategies to reduce anxiety and appetite. This includes everything from intermittent fasting, chewing sugar-free gum, and drinking coffee, to eating slowly and chewing food many times before swallowing.

Digestion begins in the mouth

Chewing food many times is important to improve the way our body assimilates the nutrients, and reduce the work of the remaining digestive organs. The first consequence of doing this is a reduction of stomach discomfort, acidity, and gas.

On the other hand, our saliva activates parotin, a hormone that’s responsible for activating the metabolism and using nutrients.

As if this wasn’t enough, the more we chew on our food, the faster we’ll begin to feel satisfied. This effect reduces the chances of overeating and prevents us from gaining weight because of it.

An effective strategy is to use vegetables and salads as appetizers and chew slowly. This way, when it’s time to eat the main course, we won’t have as much appetite. We’ll also eat with less anxiety and it’ll be easier to cut back on calorie-dense foods. In other words, our calorie intake will reduce without us even noticing, and the weight loss will start to happen.

Tips you can use to start eating slowly

Here are some tips that can help you get into the habit of eating slowly:

  • Chew about 30 times for each bite.
  • Put small portions of food in your mouth. An effective strategy is to set your fork or spoon on the table between bites or to eat with dessert utensils, which are smaller.
A woman eating slowly at the table with the help of dessert cutlery

  • Eating in a quiet environment, away from distractions such as mobile phones or the TV. This will cause your attention to focus on food, and you’ll be fully aware of how much you’re chewing and the time you take to breathe in between bites.
  • Playing soft ambient music can help you relax and eat your food more slowly.

The importance of sitting at the table to eat

Due to the stress of our daily lives, it’s quite common to snack or eat meals quickly while standing up. This can increase anxiety and the possibility of overeating and choosing unhealthy foods.

It’s really important to take our time to eat, sit at the table, and cook your own homemade meals; avoid ultra-processed foods. This is a good way to improve the quality of your food and the efficiency of your digestion. Furthermore, it can also help to reduce the levels of anxiety and appetite.

But, eating slowly is not enough

Even though it’s a good habit and an efficient strategy to reduce anxiety and appetite, eating slowly will not help if the quality of the food isn’t good, or if you overeat.

You shouldn’t forget that losing weight it the consequence of eating less than what you burn. Therefore, you must either reduce the amount of food you eat or increase your calorie expenditure. Otherwise, any strategy you use will be useless, since weight loss won’t be efficient.

How to eat less?

Despite the preconceived notion that eating many meals per day (around five) is positive, the fact is, that the more meals you eat in a day, the greater your chances of overeating will be as well.

A man training with weights at the gym to increase his calorie expenditure

Reducing the number of meals or practicing intermittent fasting is an effective solution to eat less. Also, replacing your mid-morning snack with some type of anorectic substance that reduces appetite, such as coffee, will help to reduce anxiety and the need to eat.

This translates into a lower calorie intake on a weekly basis, leading to a caloric deficit; weight loss will happen as a result. However, it’s not appropriate to do it without first consulting a nutritionist about the most appropriate method for your body.

If you don’t want to eat less, the other option is to increase your calorie expenditure. To do this, we recommend doing strength training, since it improves muscle tone and leads to hypertrophy of the fibers that will increase the number of calories you burn while resting. This way, you can achieve an efficient weight loss while eating the same number of calories.

  • Schnepper R., Richard A., Wilhelm FH., Blechert J., A combined mindfulness-prolonged chewing intervention reduces body weight, food craving, and emotional eating. J Consult Clin Psychol, 2019. 87 (1): 106-11.
  • Obert J., Pearlman M., Obert L., Chapin S., Popular weight loss strategies: a review of four weight loss techniques. Curr Gastroenterol Rep, 2017. 19 (12): 61.