Are There Benefits to Eating Slowly?

Eating slowly may help you eat less.

Scientists offered 35 normal-weight and 35 overweight or obese men and women a huge portion of the same lunch (pasta with tomatoes, olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, herbs, and spices) on two separate occasions.


On the “fast eating” day, the participants were told to eat their lunch as quickly as possible without feeling uncomfortable, to take large bites and chew quickly, and to not pause or put their utensils down between bites. They typically finished eating in 9 minutes.

On the “slow eating” day, they were told not to rush, to take small bites and chew thoroughly, and to pause and put their utensils down between bites. They typically took 22 minutes to eat.

The results: slower eating cut the calories from about 890 to 800 in the normal-weight people, but from only about 720 to 670 in the overweight or obese (which wasn’t a statistically significant difference). Both groups were less hungry after eating slowly.

What to do: Slow down. It takes time for your satiety hormones to kick in.

Source: J. Acad. Nutr. Diet. 114: 393, 2014.


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8 Replies to “Are There Benefits to Eating Slowly?”

  1. According to the numbers given, the obese people absorbed fewer calories in both the fast and slow eating, 720 and 670, vs the normal-weight people, 890 and 800. So obese people absorb fewer calories than normal-weight people eating the same amount of food? How come?

    1. From Nutrition Action Healthletter: Both the normal-weight and the obese people in the study consumed (not absorbed) fewer calories when they ate slowly versus when they ate fast. The difference was statistically significant in the normal weight but not in the obese.

      1. OK, I actually meant consumed, but my question remains, and I can’t understand the difference unless the obese people were given less food to eat, 720 & 670, vs 890 & 800, or if they did not finish the food on their plates. The study doesn’t seem to explain any of this, so the numbers make no sense to me. Am I missing something obvious?

      2. From Nutrition Action Healthletter: The participants in the study were served far more food than they could or would eat. The men were given meals containing 1734 calories, the women 1300 calories, so probably no one finished the food on their plates.

  2. Yes, I see the statistical significance of eating fewer calories between the groups on the fast eating v. slow eating days, but I believe what Byron is asking about is the fact that the obese eaters ate less food than then normal weighted eaters on both days, 84% of food on the slow eating days and 81% on fast eating days. Obese eaters ate less food than the normal eaters on both days. Did the study authors comment on this discrepancy?

    1. From Nutrition Action Heathletter: That obese individuals eat less food than normal-weight individuals in scientific studies has been observed for decades, so it’s not a “discrepancy” the authors commented on. Some overweight or obese individuals may really eat less food (and there may be other reasons for their weight issues) or they may be self-conscious and eat less than they normally would when they know they’re being watched in an experiment.

  3. Clarity at last, and the arising of intriguing questions (why did the obese folks eat less; is obesity cause more than calories in/calories out). Thanks, folks!

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