Do You Eat Too Quickly?
It takes 20 minutes for fullness cues to be sent around our bodies. That is the time it takes your stomach to send a signal to your brain and come back again to say you’re full. It’s in those 20 minutes that someone can overeat. Speaking to clients and gym members over the years, eating too quickly is one of the things that comes up a lot. The good news is it’s also something that be worked on without actually changing your diet. This is the reason it’s one of the first habits I coach clients. Even when someone says “I eat healthily” they can still overeat if they eat too quickly. It can still happen with good quality foods. If I scoff down huge amounts of the best foods the chances are that I’ll still eat too many calories. The food may be highly nutritious but if I’m looking to burn some fat it just won’t work. Now imagine if my food choices weren’t great, the surplus calories would reach a huge total. Which leads to today’s point of interest.
Part of my coaching is to allow you to eat your favourite foods but to improve your habits. I want to add better things in and not cut things out. This goes in the face of every diet you see on social media or TV. You know the ones where you cut out carbs, lose a ton of weight, regain the weight and learn nothing. I’m not a fan of “everything in moderation” either. Your idea of moderation will be different to mine and the next person’s and the next’s etc. Instead of cutting things out and being restrictive I want to coach someone healthier habits for their goals, how much to eat and why. The first part of that is eating slowly.
Let’s say your diet is absolutely dreadful and includes high calorie meals full of sugar and fat. Not only that but you eat really fast. In the time it takes your brain to send the ‘I’m full’ signal to your stomach you would consume tons of excess calories. If you just slowed down you would eat a lot less and consume fewer calories in that 20 minute window. You haven’t changed the food but you’ve saved yourself from more damage.
Here are some tips to do it;
- Take smaller bites
- Chew a little longer
- Try to taste the food more
- Have a drink between bites
- Chat with whoever you’re eating with
You’ll be surprised how much more you’ll enjoy your meal. Once you’ve slowed down a little you can then move on to the next habit.
Eat Until 80% Full
Think of this as eating until you’re no longer hungry. You don’t have to stuff yourself with each meal. We don’t live on a deserted island not knowing when we’ll get food again. Gratefully the majority of us have food readily available for our next meal and you don’t need to hit your daily calorie numbers in one sitting. Most people have a problem with leaving food behind so they clear the plate. This becomes a problem when portion control isn’t great and so most of us finish a meal feeling stuffed. Before you learn better portion control, eating until 80% full or until no longer hungry helps with this problem. A good gauge of having eaten the right amount is that you shouldn’t feel hungry, you should feel energised and able to get up and move around easily or go for a walk. If you feel sluggish, heavy or need to sit down after eating you’ve probably overdone it!
Something For You To Try
After a typical meal of yours note how you feel immediately after finishing and each hour until your next meal. If you’ve eaten the correct amount for your fat loss goals it should resemble something like this;
Immediately after – Not hungry at all or like you could have eaten a little more.
1 hour after – Fully satisfied with no desire to eat another meal.
2 hours after – Maybe a little hungry but by no means an overwhelming need to eat.
3 hours after – You should be feeling the need to eat again. A 7 or 8 out of 10 for hunger. This could be more or less depending on any physical activity you might have done. If you’re not hungry now you probably ate too much at that previous meal.
4 hours after – You are now at an 8 or 9 out of 10 for hunger. Objects are turning into different foods like that lion sees in the Madagascar animated movie. It’s around this time that if we let our hunger get this far we’re more likely to make poor food choices.
Take Home Message
Eating slowly and until 80% full might take some getting used to. If you’re serious about changing your health and fitness for the better it really is worth giving a go for a couple weeks. It will help improve digestion, your training performance should be better and you’ll enjoy your meals more. And it’s not even restrictive. Hope this helps!