Count your bites, lose weight?

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

As I write this, I am eating a turkey sandwich, biting and chewing slowly and counting the number of times I’ve bitten the delicious combination of sliced turkey breast, lettuce, tomatoes and mustard on whole wheat bread. I’m up to 37 slow and thoughtful bites. And this, it turns out, could be a key to weight loss.

According to a study published in the journal Advances in Obesity, Weight Management & Control, people who take fewer bites—considered, for the purposes of the study, the number of times you chew or swallow—lose more weight than people who take more bites. It sounds like a no-brainer: of course you lose weight if you don’t swallow as much food. But part of what the researchers discovered is that people who set limits on the number of bites they take each day consumed fewer calories but reported feeling just as full as those who ate more food. (Now I’m up to 100 bites.)

The key seems to lie in the fact that counting tends to force people to slow down. By eating more slowly, you give your body enough time to start the digestion process and send your brain the message that it is feeling satisfied (like I’m beginning to, now that I’m at 110 bites). People who cut their average daily number of bites by 20 percent lost just as much weight as those who cut their bites by 30 percent, the study found. (Now I’m at 115.)

While the practice might seem somewhat intense—to say nothing of what it is likely to do to mealtime conversation—it works, and researchers say is simpler than counting calories, a practice most people hate.

I’m at 125 now. And, man, am I ever full.