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Eating Too Fast May Cause Weight Gain

With society becoming more fast paced by the day, there has also been an increase in the number of workers eating at their desk and a decrease in the amount of time workers spend actually eating. Basically, we’re scoffing down our food faster so we can cram more work in. However, not only is this habit an issue when it comes to work/rest balance, it’s actually a contributing factor to obesity as shown by a couple of Japanese researchers at a University in Kanagawa, Japan.

The researchers examined the effect of eating speed on the thermic effect of food also known as the TEF. The thermic effect of food is one of three factors contributing to our total metabolic rate, the other two being our basal metabolic rate (BMR) also known as our resting metabolic rate (RMR) as well as our level of physical activity. A common estimate of TEF is that it accounts for an energy expenditure equal to 10% of our daily calorie intake. So for example, for a person whose daily calorie intake is 2000 calories, their TEF would burn off approximately 200 calories – the same amount of energy burned off with 30 minutes of jogging. A decrease in the amount of TEF can therefore impact upon the balance between energy intake and expenditure.

As previously mentioned, the researchers wants to identify any links between eating speed and the TEF by asking a group of 9 females to eat meals measuring the same amount of calories (350kcal) at a fast speed (5 mins) or a regular speed (15 mins). The researchers were able to come up with 2 main results:

  • Those who ate at a fast pace had significantly lower TEF than those eating at a regular pace.
  • TEF was correlated with the chewing and mastication frequency.

This led the researchers to suggest that a lowered TEF from eating faster was because a decrease in chewing frequency resulted in decreased sympathetic nervous system activity. As such, there is less need for energy providing processes such as TEF.

Practical Applications

We’ve all heard of the advice to eat slower for better weight maintenance, but in a fast paced society such as ours, it’s often hard to do so. But simply taking an extra 10 minutes to really savour and enjoy your meal and lunch break, you’re not only going to find yourself less stressed, you’re going to be helping yourself stay leaner over the long term. But don’t forget to apply this method to all your other meals as well.

1. Toyama K, Zhao X, Kuranuki S, Oguri Y, Kashiwa Kato E, Yoshitake Y, Nakamura T. ‘The effect of fast eating on the thermic effect of food in young Japanese women.’ Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2015 Jan 22:1-8.

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