The Food 411: Are you a rabbit or a turtle?

Eating speed can have a direct correlation on weight gain. A study in 2011 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that test subjects who chewed 40 times versus 15 times ingested 11.9% less food. We all might guess, quick eaters tend to consume more calories than slow eaters do. But there is more.

Slowing down allows us to fully chew our food, which allows our bodies time to control our ” I’m full” hormone, ghrelin, so that we know when we are full. The body needs about 20 minutes to generate “chemical” feelings of satiety.

Let’s outline the basics: we have hormones that regulate body weight (leptin and insulin) and ones that control appetite (like ghrelin and cholecystokinin). Obese and normal-weight folks differ in their levels of and responses to these hormones. By eating too quickly, the body is unable to regulate these hormones fast enough to do their job and we may never quite feel full enough or can gain even with low caloric restriction

Lastly, the digestive process requires time, because the gut must re-acidify itself to be able to process foods throughout the course of a meal. If you eat too fast, this function becomes compromised, which undermines the whole reason for eating—why eat if you can’t digest your meal?

So slow down, enjoy your food, and let your body as well.

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