Are you a slow eater? It could be the key to losing weight

You’ve no doubt heard of every fad diet and extreme fitness regime out there, but health professionals have suggested that something as simple as how you eat could have just as much influence whether or not you’re likely to lose or gain weight.

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According to research published in the online journal BMJ Open, slowing down the speed in which you eat food could help you shed the kilos. The research also points out that avoiding after-dinner snacks and not eating within two hours of going to bed can also help when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight.

The study found that people who followed these two behaviours were less likely to gain weight and had a smaller waist circumference. While that’s great news for people who spend ages eating their food, it’s worrying for people who enjoy a bit of a midnight snack, at speed, while sitting in front of the TV of an evening.

The research analysed just under 60,000 Japanese people with diabetes who had frequent health check-ups between 2008 and 2013. Each of these patients were tracked, with the dates of consultations and treatments and analysis of their weight and waist circumference recorded. Blood and urine tests and liver function were also taken.

Each person was quizzed on their eating speeds, telling the researchers whether they either ate at a fast, normal, or slow speed. Patients were also told to detail their snacking habits and whether or not they ate within two hours of going to sleep.

Read more: Changing the way you drink your coffee could help you lose weight

The research found that 22,070 people defined themselves as fast eaters. Normal eaters made up the majority at 33,455, while just 4,192 people said they were slow eaters. The results found that it was the slower eaters who had healthier lifestyles than people who ate faster.

Around 52 per cent of people in the sample changed their eating habits over the six years. The research concluded that fast eaters are 29 per cent less likely to be obese, when factors like sleeping habits, BMI and alcohol consumption were considered. The figure was even higher for slow eaters, sitting at 42 per cent. It also suggested that slow and normal eaters were more likely to have a smaller stomach circumference.

And while many studies have suggested that skipping breakfast could make it harder to lose weight, the research found that it wasn’t as likely to impact changes in BMI as having a snack after dinner and within two hours of going to sleep.

There were some key caveats to the research, however. Because much of the research involved self-reporting, the scientists said that further study arch was needed to assess causes and effects when it came to obesity. The research also didn’t take into account energy intake or physical activities, both of which could have influenced the results.

Are you a speed eater or a leisurely diner? Do you think it has any impact on whether you gain or lose weight?