Not many people seem to pay much attention to how fast they eat. But you should…
Especially if you want to stay healthier and slimmer as you age.
New research shows that you can use eating speed to help control your blood sugar more effectively, reduce the risk of diabetes, make it easier to maintain a healthy weight and balance your hormone levels.
Here’s the story…
Researchers at Penn State have found that one of the keys to avoiding over-eating is linked to how fast you eat, combined with the size of the portions that you put on your plate.
In a month-long study that examined people’s eating habits at lunch, the team controlled portion sizes and recorded subjects’ eating styles and discovered that slowing down your eating, taking smaller bites and being aware of your portion size helps you feel full on less food.1
Smaller Portions Help You Feel More Full
The study found that people ate 43 percent more food when the portion sizes were increased by 75 percent. “Being aware of portion size, slowing down when you eat and taking smaller bites of food could help avoid overconsumption,” says researcher Paige Cunningham.
Adding to what was found at Penn State, scientists at the University of Bristol in England uncovered that slower eating holds down the release of ghrelin, a hormone that signals hunger, more effectively than plowing through your food at a quick pace.
That slow-eating reduction in ghrelin, say the researchers, means you feel fuller on less food after a meal and you’re more satisfied. This English study, which focused on how people snacked, revealed that people who ate more slowly consumed 25 percent less food.2
Lowering the Risk of Diabetes and Other Problems
Many other studies have revealed further benefits for eating slowly:
- Fast eating increases your risk for diabetes: A three-year study in Japan that involved almost 200,000 people has shown that habitually wolfing down your food leads to a significant rise in your risk for developing high blood sugar and type-2 diabetes. In this research, the fast-eaters also ended up gaining more weight and had more frequent yo-yo weight swings – where their weight often went down and then went right back up.3
- Slow eating may help maintain weight loss: A five-year study, also in Japan, that involved about 60,000 people, showed that eating more slowly increases the chances of keeping your weight lower, avoiding obesity and having a smaller waistline. This study also found that not snacking after dinner and eating your last meal of the day at least two hours before bedtime was also linked to weighing less.4
- Eating more slowly can improve the health effects of your body fat: The various types of body fat you carry around do not all produce the same influence on your health. For instance, body fat around your waist tends to be harmful and inflammatory while fat tissue on your thighs and trunk is less problematic. An analysis of people’s body fat and eating speed found that in people aged 18 to 44, eating more slowly encourages the deposit of healthier fat. However, eating speed did not affect the distribution of body fat very much in people later in middle-age and beyond.5
Protecting Your Muscle Tissue
In going over the research on eating speed, I only found one instance where eating faster – but not at breakneck speed – could be a little healthier.
For those people who have type-2 diabetes who are in their late sixties and above, slow eating can be linked to having a greater risk of sarcopenia – a condition of debilitating muscle loss that’s common in people as they get older.
In a study of older people with diabetes, researchers found that the slowest eaters had the biggest risk of becoming frail because of losing larger amounts of lean tissue.6
But except for those folks, all of us should slow down and give ourselves more time to enjoy our food. At the same time, that sort of slowdown can allow you more time to enjoy a healthier more rewarding life.