Does Eating Slowly Help You Lose Weight?

Ransom Riggs

I don't know about you, but I'm a fast eater. I can spend two hours preparing a lavish meal, and still I'll wolf it down in under twenty minutes. It's not like I grew up with a bunch of ravenous siblings and had to compete for food, either -- it's just the way I am. I'd like to change, though, because aside from not really tasting my food and making the experience of eating kind of anticlimactic compared to the lengthy cooking of it (or expensive buying of it, if I'm in a restaurant), according to some new research, people who wolf their food end up consuming more calories than those who don't. From the NY Times Well blog:

One reason is the effect of quicker ingestion on hormones. In a study last month, scientists found that when a group of subjects were given an identical serving of ice cream on different occasions, they released more hormones that made them feel full when they ate it in 30 minutes instead of 5 . The scientists took blood samples and measured insulin and gut hormones before, during and after eating. They found that two hormones that signal feelings of satiety, or fullness — glucagon-like peptide-1 and peptide YY — showed a more pronounced response in the slow condition. Ultimately, that leads to eating less, as another study published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggested in 2008. In that study, subjects reported greater satiety and consumed roughly 10 percent fewer calories when they ate at a slow pace compared with times when they gobbled down their food. In another study of 3,000 people in The British Medical Journal, those who reported eating quickly and eating until full had triple the risk of being overweight compared with others.

Eeeeenteresting. The BMJ also mentions "eating until full," and a piece of advice I've heard a number of times lately is that you should eat until you're only "80% full," whatever that means (it's not like I have a digital status bar on my tummy). But without a doubt, eating more slowly would help you figure out how full or not-full you are; those who wolf usually have eaten the whole plate of food before they've realized it's too much. (Another bit of weight-loss advice I've heard lately, attributed to food guru Michael Pollan: buy smaller plates.)

What about you? Do you wolf?

BTW, a note on the provenance of the photo above: "Eating a total of 19 ears of corn in a seven-minute period, Dan 'Tiny' Parker won the men's corn eating contest at the 15th annual Olathe Sweet Corn Festival in Olathe, Colo. 'I had lost the last two years (in the corn eating contest) but, they still treat me like a champion,' he said." Photo by Matt McClain of the Rocky Mountain News.