If the stomach actually takes 20 minutes to “figure out” that it’s full, then what does that mean in terms of weight loss? Will slow eaters consume less food because the stomach has enough time to communicate with the brain that it’s full? Our Nutrition Expert Lisa Moskovitz weighs in on the matter.

Expert’s Take

Have you ever forgotten if or even what you just ate? If so, you are probably one of millions who suffer from “fast-eating syndrome.” While eating quickly might prevent being late to an important meeting or appointment, it certainly won’t do much to prevent packing on the pounds. Recent research suggests people who eat slowly tend to consume fewer calories and stay fuller longer than those who eat quicklySlower Eating Speed Lowers Energy Intake in Normal-Weight but Not Overweight/Obese Subjects. Shah, M., Copeland, J., Dart, L., et al. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2013 Dec 24. Epub ahead of print..

According to another study, the quicker we eat, the less time we give our bodies to register fullnessEating slowly increases the postprandial response of the anorexigenic gut hormones, peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide-1. Kokkinos, A., le Roux, CW., Alexiadou, K., et al. Athens University Medical School, Athens, Greece. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2010 Jan; 95(1):333-7.. Speed eating impacts the effectiveness of a gut hormone responsible for signaling the brain that you have had enough. As a result we end up eating way more than we would have, which can lead to excess body fat storage or weight gain.

On the flip side, eating at a slower pace increases the response of an anorexigenic, or satiety hormone, called Peptide YY (PYY) and Glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1). Bottom line, the slower we eat, the more time we give our body to feel satisfied. Here are some top strategies to slow eating pace:

  • Portion control:
    • With less food in front of you, the chances of over-eating are reduced, even if you race through the meal.
  • Eat every 2-3 hours:
    • Eating small frequent meals prevents speed or over-eating related to extreme hunger. Consistent eating also increases metabolism.
  • Drink between bites:
    • Instead of scarfing it all down at once, take sips of water throughout the meal to naturally help slow your fork action.
  • Chew food:
    • Pace yourself by taking at least 10-20 chews before you swallow.
  • Focus on the food:
    • Put down your phone and close your computer for just 20 minutes while eating. This may be all it takes for your body to recognize its hunger-fighting hormones are kicking in.

This article originally posted May 2011. Updated January 2014. Do you find you eat less when you slow down a little? Let us know in the comments below or get in touch with us on Twitter.