Want to lose weight? Instead of counting calories, try counting this instead.
Research recently completed by Brigham Young University scientists reveals that people who counted how many bites of food they ate–and then decreased that by 20 to 30 percent–ended up losing four pounds in a month, considered optimal by nutritionists. As an added bonus, the participants made no other changes to their diet, making it easier to adhere to.
The research appears in the October issue of Advances in Obesity, Weight Management & Control, a health journal.
“This study confirms what we already knew: consuming less food makes a difference,” says Josh West, lead author of the study and Associate Professor of Health Science at Brigham Young University. “We’re not advocating people starve themselves, what we’re talking about is people eating less than they’re currently eating.”
For their research, they asked 61 participants to count how many times they lifted food to their mouth, labeled here as a “bite,” and how often they brought a liquid other than water to their lips. At the end of the day, researchers asked the participants to text or email them with the total number of bites or gulps they took.
After tallying up these results, the participants were told to decrease the amount of bites they took by 20 to 30 percent for the next week. They were told not to change anything else about their diet or exercise routine, however.
Four weeks later, the participants were weighed to see if they lost weight.
The result? For those who successfully reduced the amount of bites they took, they lost the ideal amount–about 4 pounds over a month-long period.
“The 41 test subjects who finished the experiment produced encouraging results but there is more research needed to validate this strategy for long-term success,” says Ben Crookston, co-author of the study. “We felt pretty good about how much weight they lost given the relatively short span of the study. Now we need to follow up to see if they keep it off, or if they lose more weight.”
Researchers now say this could be an ideal option for most Americans struggling with their weight, especially for those who are overweight. Crookston estimates it could reduce their food intake by 20 percent.
“We’re consuming considerably more calories than we did a generation ago or two generations ago; at the same time we’re much less active,” says Crookston. “The good news is that you don’t have to be extreme calorie cutting. Even a 20 percent reduction in bites makes a difference.”
What This Means For You
Need help losing weight? Instead of counting calories, count your bites instead. Research shows decreasing the amount of bites you take everyday could help you lose up to four pounds in a month.
Readers: How do you control your food intake?