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Eating Slowly and Only Until Satisfied

This post is an excerpt from The High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide, written by Precision Nutrition’s Brian St. Pierre. The post appeared on Eric Cressy’s blog, which we highly recommend.

Many of us eat far too quickly.  And, at each meal we expect to eat to the point of fullness.  Unfortunately, eating in this manner – quickly and until full – will always present challenges to your performance, health, and body composition goals.  This is true even if you eat the right foods (though eating mostly whole, minimally processed foods makes it much easier to tune into these powerful appetite cues).

Learning to tune into and follow your hunger and fullness cues will be paramount to your long-term success.  It will teach you to slow down, to listen to your body and its needs and to stop eating when you are satisfied, not full.  This is actually one of the most important skills you need to build for long-term nutrition success.

Why is this so?  It takes about 20 minutes for our satiety mechanisms to work.  What this means is that the signal from our gut takes time to get to our brain.  So, if you eat quickly, it is more than likely that you will eat far more in that 20-minute window than you need, and before your brain can tell you that you have eaten enough.  Regardless of food quality and macronutrient composition, over-eating is over-eating.  Unless you are trying to gain weight, learning this skill is critical (and even then it is still critical, because you won’t be trying to gain weight forever).

An excellent goal is to aim for about 15-20 minutes per meal, at a minimum.  If this is too big of a change for you, simply aim to take a little longer for now, slowly stretching out your meals until you are able to reach that 15-20 minute mark.

To do this, simply utilize the following strategies:

• take a seat when you eat
• turn off the TV and eliminate distractions (though some light reading can be okay)
• take smaller bites
• chew your food more completely
• put your fork down after every few bites
• drink some water
• share some witty banter with your dining partner(s)

Slowing down your eating will help in many capacities.  When you eat slowly, you tend to eat fewer calories with each meal (because your brain has time to tell you enough has been eaten), drink more water (improving hydration status and health), improve digestion (because it starts in the mouth), and tune into your hunger and fullness cues more effectively.

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