Can Eating Slower Help You Lose Weight?

Dr. Christopher McGowan
January 24, 2022

Obesity in America has been on the rise for decades, and it is estimated that over 42% of adults in the United States can be classified as obese. More concerningly, the percentage of people who are classified as severely obese has doubled in the last 20 years. At the same time, more and more people are trying to lose weight than ever before; the internet is full of special diets and exercise routines that promise weight loss but usually don’t lead to success. One concept that has gained attention in recent years has to do with how fast we eat. 

How Does Weight Gain Happen?     

While it might be common knowledge that we eat food to fuel our bodies, the nuances of how this process works is often misunderstood. Both the amount of food and the content of food we eat are factors in many areas of your health and wellbeing. Each time we eat, the food that has been swallowed is mashed up in the stomach via a process known as peristalsis. With the help of stomach acids, this mashed up food material travels to the small intestine where most of the nutrient absorption takes place. 

Digestive enzymes from the liver and pancreas combine in the small intestine to further break down food into its constituent parts. The lining of the small intestine absorbs the carbs, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fats in the broken down food material, and carries them off in the bloodstream. These nutrients are sent around the body so that cells in organs and tissues can use them for energy, growth, cell repair and maintenance, keeping the immune system healthy, and a wide array of other body functions. 

A person should ideally eat enough food to supply their body’s dietary needs and no more, but this amount can vary wildly from person to person based on age, sex, height, activity level, and many other factors. For any given person, though, eating a greater number of calories than you burn through normal body functions and additional physical activity can eventually lead to weight gain. Excess carbohydrates and fats that can’t immediately be used by cells are stored as fat tissue all around the body. 

How Does Slower Eating Help You Lose Weight?  

Overeating is a major contributor to weight gain, but it also matters what you eat. Foods high in sugar, fat, and cholesterol, for instance, can lead to a wide variety of dangerous diseases and disorders, and so practicing mindful eating and considering the health content of the food you eat is an important part of weight management as well as your health overall. The typical American diet is, unfortunately, all too often defined by just such foods, and this is a big part of why obesity has become so common. 

In recent years, however, new thinking has emerged that places additional emphasis on healthy eating habits as well as how much we eat. When and how we snack, whether or not we skip breakfast, and how soundly we sleep all may increase the likelihood of obesity. Another possible factor is eating speed and the connection between eating slower and losing weight. In one particular study of people with type 2 diabetes, slow eaters were less likely to be obese than fast eaters.  

The main mechanism for this link is related to satiety. When we eat, it takes time (20 minutes, on average) for feelings of fullness to be relayed to the brain through the release of certain gut hormones. This feeling of satiety is essentially the body’s way of telling us that we don’t need to eat anymore. If we eat too quickly, we are likely to blow past the point where we’ve eaten enough and have moved into eating too much.

By practicing a habit of slow eating, we can take advantage of this delay in satiety and end up eating fewer calories—simply by ensuring that a feeling of fullness sets in before we overeat. Below are a few tips and strategies for how to start incorporating slow eating into your life: 

  • at the beginning, you can use a timer or stopwatch to help you think about timing while you eat 
  • depending on what you’re eating, try to chew each mouthful 15-30 times 
  • drink water in between bites of food to aid the digestion process as well as increase a sense of fullness
  • set down your utensils or hands in between bites to further promote a more a deliberate eating process 
  • when possible, try to spread out the consumption of a meal over 20-30 minutes to give satiety hormones a chance to be picked up by the brain 

Additional Weight Loss Methods   

Transitioning from eating too fast to a pattern of slower eating can be challenging to adapt to, but it’s a relatively minor tweak to your daily life that can begin to make a difference when practiced regularly. But, as noted before, what you eat is also an important consideration. Try to avoid foods that are processed or high in fat and sugar and instead opt for fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean proteins. You can start by making a few substitutions and gradually improve the health of your diet. 

For many who are obese or overweight, though, simply switching up one’s diet may not be effective at leading to weight loss. Indeed, most people who attempt to lose weight through traditional means are not very successful. Any weight that is lost can easily be regained as soon as a strict diet becomes unsustainable. This makes the whole process frustrating and can make many people feel a little helpless. 

At True You Weight Loss, we very much understand where you’re coming from if you’ve tried multiple diets without success. For this reason, we offer a series of non-surgical weight loss procedures that can help you fully take control of your weight loss journey. With ESG, for example, we endoscopically reshape your stomach to reduce calorie intake and promote fat burning. With gastric balloons like Spatz3, we insert an adjustable silicone “balloon” into the stomach to decrease the amount of time it takes to feel full after eating.   

Freedom is Waiting

In general, it’s a good idea to slow down while eating, but that’s only one step. If you’ve tried to lose weight before without success, and if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, you might be a great candidate for one of our state-of-the-art non-surgical procedures. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you finally find the freedom you’ve been looking for, contact us today to request a consultation

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan

Dr. Christopher McGowan, MD, a leader in endobariatrics, specializes in non-surgical obesity treatments and is triple-board-certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Obesity Medicine. Renowned for pioneering endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) with over 2,000 procedures, his global influence and research contributions define him as a top expert.

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