Women who eat slowly may end up consuming less calories than fast-eating women, despite longer duration of eating occasions.
Researchers from the University of Rhode Island, USA, assessed the influence of eating rate on caloric intake. For that purpose, 30 healthy women aged 18-48 years were recruited and asked to visit the laboratory on three separate occasions. In the first visit, they completed questionnaires assessing their personal health history, eating rate, and levels of dietary restraint and chronic weight-focused behaviour. In the next two visits, participants were asked to eat a pre-prepared lunch either quickly or slowly. In the visit that they had to eat quickly, they were given big spoons and were supposed to consume food without pauses between bites. Under slow eating conditions, small spoons were provided and the subjects were asked to take small bites, put down the spoon between bites and chew each bite 20 to 30 times. Hunger, satiety, desire to eat, and thirst were assessed at regular intervals before, during and after the meal.
The analysis revealed that although eating under slow conditions made the meal last 20 minutes longer, subjects ate less calories (579 vs 646 kcal) and smaller quantities of food (399 vs 445 g) when compared to the fast eating pattern. Additionally, satiety ratings as well as water consumption were significantly higher during the slow meal, suggesting a potential aiding mechanism.
In conclusion, a slower rate of eating may contribute to lower energy intake in healthy women. More research is required to test if these findings apply to the whole population, different meal types, and longer study periods.
For more information, see:
Andrade et al. (2008) Eating Slowly Led to Decreases in Energy Intake within Meals in Healthy Women. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108:1186-1191.