Chewing each morsel 40 times may result in weight loss

People around the world stress on the need of chewing food properly. While majority of them, do this to ensure their small children don’t choke while eating; some others stress on proper chewing for health reasons.

Call it traditional wisdom OR inference taken from years of observation OR some ancient science of wellness, people all over the world; unanimously believe that ‘proper chewing is good for health’.

In some cultures like India, where ancient wellness science of Yog (now the term being anglicized as Yoga), seen to be guiding many in their daily lives, says this regarding chewing – “The right way of ingesting(taking the food down the throat) food is to follow this rule of thumb – Drink what is solid and Eat what is liquid.”

In simple words, the above wisdom is regarding chewing, which says that – a person should chew a solid food, to that extent, until it gets a liquid consistency, and hence can be get down the throat as water. When the person consumes some liquid food, then he/she should pretend as if he/she is eating a solid food. The liquid should be moved inside mouth, from one corner to the other, with biting motions of the teeth; and then ingest the liquid.

Irrespective of where one lives and how the knowledge is acquired; cultures have stressed on the importance of chewing in their unique words and examples.

In recent times, proper chewing has been linked to keeping a normal body weight and to weight loss as well.

Here proper or prolonged chewing is stressed on, for some logical reasons. The logic goes like this: If a person chews each morsel for a prolonged time; then he/she is likely eat less number of morsels, and hence less food at each meal. This will result in keeping his/her body weight normal or even weight loss.

Now a recent study conducted by Chinese researchers, who were from Harbin Medical University, give some empirical support to the above logic.

According to the study – the more your teeth chew each bite of food, the less food you’re likely to eat at a meal, and hence lose weight.

The study findings have been published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The new study confirms: Don’t wolf down your food. Chew it, then chew it some more.

How the study was conducted:

The latest research involved 16 lean and 14 obese young men. After a 12-hour fast, the volunteers came to the laboratory to eat a typical Chinese breakfast— pork pie, not Cocoa Puffs — while a video camera recorded how frequently they chewed each bite. All of the men were given the same portion and told they could ask for more.

The scientists had prior guessed that the obese men would chew less per bite and, indeed, they were right. And while the size of their bites was similar to that of the lean men, the obese men ended up consuming more calories.

This study indicated that men who were obese, were that way, as they focused less on chewing and more on eating. The fact that they were gulping morsels fast; hence they ended up eating more than the lean group.

To make their conclusions more grounded, the researchers tried another experiment.

In the new experiment, both the groups were exposed to the same conditions and food, like the earlier experiment; and were also allowed to eat as much as they like. But one day they asked the men to chew each bite 15 times, while another day they asked them to chew 40 times. The instructions were for both the groups, whether the men were obese or lean.

The researchers observed that irrespective of the group one belongs, all the men consumed about 12 percent fewer calories when they chewed each bite 40 times than when they chewed 15 times, and they had lower levels of ghrelin, the so-called hunger hormone produced in the stomach.

What the study concluded:

The study concluded that chewing less is a risk factor for obesity.

Increased chewing releases nutrients from food more efficiently. Encouraging people to chew more, study finds, could be a valuable tool–along with diet and exercise–for helping people lose weight.


The scientific studies regarding chewing are not unanimous; like a study conducted by Mauro Farella of New Zealand’s University of Otago, regarding the number of times an average person is capable of chewing, finds that it’s hard for people to masticate more.

Farella, who is a senior author on a chewing paper posted Aug. 1 by the Journal of Dental Research, says that they had theorized that people chew at their own consistent pace, part of their unique “fingerprint of masticatory behavior.”; and hence his study didn’t find a link between the pace at which people chewed and how thoroughly they chewed. In simple, some people are found to be chewing satisfactorily even at a very fast pace.

Hence Farella is clueless whether it would be possible to teach an individual to slow down or up the chewing pace or to change the duration of chewing before swallowing. In principle, though, he says it might be possible to get people to chew each bite more, because, as Mom knows, we at least have partial control over it.

Although, the scientific studies regarding the efficacy of chewing in enabling a person keep his weight normal or lose weight are not adequate; but still trying to lengthen the chewing duration, or taking at least 20 minutes to finish one serving can help a person decrease his/her food intake.

That apart, if one looks at the traditional knowledge OR the knowledge offered by alternative sciences, then one finds that, they are unanimous on many things; irrespective of the how far geographically world they evolved and developed. Taking encouragement from this very fact, if one tries to derive other logical inferences as well. Such as if one chews properly, his/her digestive system has to work less on the food; and hence more useful energy can be released from the food, even if less quantities are taken; then even traditional assertions not scientifically proven seem to be wise.