Diet Myths Debunked: Can Chewing Help You Lose Weight?

by in Diets & Weight Loss, September 23, 2011
man chewing
Will chewing a whole bunch make you lose weight?

One tactic some dieters use to shed pounds is chewing. They chomp each bite as many as 50 times before swallowing. Is chewing a legitimate was to shed pounds? We’ll delve into this longtime dieting strategy.

Chew On This
A 2011 article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the chewing habits of obese verses lean men. Researchers found that after 40 chews, the men took about 12 percent fewer calories than after 15. Even though the obese men’s bites were smaller than the leaner men, the obese folks ate more calories overall.  Although this study does show promise, we need to remember that there were only 30 total men tested (which isn’t very many).

Another Theory
Another theory is that it takes the body about 20 to 30 minutes to register that it’s full and satisfied. Chewing food slowly allows you to eat less food, giving enough time for the brain to realize that you’re full.

Try this experience (it’s worked on my husband): when it’s time for dinner, write down how hungry you are from a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being extremely hungry). Then eat a small vegetable salad or bowl of soup (like chicken or vegetable). Wait about 20 to 30 minutes, and then write down again how hungry you are. Many of my clients are surprised to find how much less hungry they are after that small amount of food.

The Bottom Line: Chewing food doesn’t magically melt away the pounds. However, the research does point to the fact that chewing may be a helpful weight loss technique. You don’t need to count every bit you take, instead stop rushing and shoving food down your throat. Instead take the time to enjoy your food.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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