Posted in food, Health, news

Eat Slower to Lose Weight

Another study has found eating too fast may lead to weight gain and metabolic syndrome.

In a recent study published in BMJ Open, researchers looked at 60,000 patients, analyzing their BMI and waist circumference and found 22,000, or 1/3 gobbled down their food at a fast rate. Those who ate at a normal speed were 29 percent less likely to be obese than the gobblers and those who ate slowly were 42 percent less likely to be overweight.  BMI and waist circumference were noted to be higher in the fast eating groups.

One reason for this is fast eaters may be more likely to consume more calories before they feel full. Their food choices may also be those that you can eat quickly (like a cheeseburger) rather than a salad that takes forever to get through.

Last year, researchers from Hiroshima University in Japan also found that those who ate their meals quicker were more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome.

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is comprised of a group of risk factors that puts one at risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke.  Any three of the following classify as one having metabolic syndrome:

  • Large waistline or apple shaped habitus
  • High blood pressure (over 130/80)
  • High fasting blood sugar (over 100)
  • High triglyceride level
  • Low HDL (good cholesterol)

Researchers looked at 1000 people in 2008 who didn’t have metabolic syndrome and rated them as slow eaters, normal eaters and fast eaters. Those who scarfed down their food were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome within 5 years.

Previously I discussed how our eating speed has helped fuel our obesity crisis.


Fast food has become the staple of many American and European diets and we’ve seen obesity rise.  True more people take public or private transportation to work over walking, and many have given up smoking every time they had a hunger itch, but the most popular reason for our waistline increase is fast food.  But is it the caloric content of the fast food that’s fueling the obesity epidemic, or the speed at which its ingested?

What is Fast Food?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Fast Food is “food that can be prepared and served quickly”.  A burger, shake and fries is considered fast food but so is a take away salad or sandwich.  It’s implied that fast food is a meal that is not made fresh but made previously and preserved such that it can taste fresh when needed to be served.

How Caloric is Fast Food?

According to CalorieKing, a McDonald’s Big Mac is 540 calories.  A large order of fries is 510 calories.  So a meal over 1000 calories is obviously not the healthiest choice.

But let’s return back to the sandwich alone.  While a Big Mac is 540 calories, CalorieKing finds Chick-Fil-A’s Cobb Salad (without dressing) 500 calories.  Bob Evans Restaurant’s Cobb Salad is 516 calories.

fast food.jpg

Now on the same site a Tuna Salad Sandwich (5 oz) w. mayo, 3 oz Bread is 679calories.

So are we becoming obese eating cobb salads and tuna salad for lunch just as one would eat a Big Mac?  We don’t know since people don’t study cobb and tuna salad eating consumers.  My guess is No.

Are we eating too fast?

Yes, and so fast that I believe it could be messing with our metabolism.

Think back to caveman days.  We had to chew.  And not on a soft sesame seed bun, but chew our meat.  Nuts and vegetables took a chewing as well.  Food was more scarce so it was savored and meals weren’t on the run while on a subway or at a stop light in one’s car.

Previous studies have shown that eating slowly and chewing it multiple times allow the body’s signals to trigger the satiety sensation sooner, hence one would eat less.

So gulping down a burger in 5 bites could be accomplished prior to the brain receiving the signal that it should be satisfied.

Now the metabolism issue.  Fast food could contain sugars, fats and preservatives that alter metabolism.  But eating on the run could cause metabolism issues in and of itself.

When a body senses that the food source is short-lived, unpredictable, and coming at a speed preventing proper absorption of nutrients, it may slow down metabolism to allow the body to make the most of what it has.  Eating a meal slow and methodical may be the most successful way to not only feel full but to eat less and lose weight.

I suggest a study be done looking at two groups of people eating the same food with the same caloric content but differing on the speed at which they eat it.

I suggest to you all to take an extra 15 minutes to complete your meal than what you’re accustomed to and determine if you see results after a few weeks.

Of course avoiding fast food would be the most beneficial for our weight but if you must eat fast food, eat it slowly.



                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician


Nationally Syndicated Radio Host, Board Certified Family Medicine Physician, Author

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