Monday, 11 February 2013

Week 7 Nutrition Habit: Optimal Eating Speed

This week in the 52 Weeks to Better Nutrition and a New You series let's look at eating speed. While it may seem minor, adopting this habit of optimal eating speed has an important impact on your health and your training results. 

The standard way of thinking in North America is that life is too busy to devote the time needed to cook and eat properly. As a result, we often grab a "quick bite to eat" at a local fast-food drive through. Then we pound the food back while barely chewing so we can get on with our crazy lives. This is not what eating is supposed to be like. In many other parts of the world, eating is still as it should be (and has been for generations) - a relaxed, slow, enjoyable process and it is time to get back to that.

What eating should be like
Eating for health
One area of nutrition that does not get enough attention is digestion. You may have heard the old saying, "you are what you eat". But really what you eat is only part of the equation. You are also a product of what you digest. Slowing down your eating speed puts your body in a relaxed mode that improve digestion. It is also important to slow down so you can chew food more thoroughly. Remember digestion starts in the mouth. If you gulping down barely-chewed food, you are placing extra stress on your digestive system and possibly impairing your digestion.

Eating for fat loss
It takes about 15-20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that your stomach is full. When you rush through your food you can easily eat beyond the point of being full without realizing. Slower eating is an effective way to reduce total caloric intake and thus help you shed unwanted fat from your body.

Eating for pleasure
While many people get themselves in trouble by making pleasure the sole objective of eating, it is not wrong to enjoy your food. Healthy foods can be delicious with a little kitchen know-how. Slowing down your eating allows you to actually enjoy what you are eating. Be in the moment and actually appreciate the presentation, aromas, flavors and textures of the food you are eating.

Eating for muscle gain and high performance:
If gaining muscle is your goal, there are times when faster eating can work to your advantage. As mentioned previously, it takes time for your brain to get the message that it is full. In this case faster eating can allow you to pack more calories down before your brain realizes your body has had enough. However, don't do this all the time as the slower eating still has the benefits previously mentioned.

The application
This week, keep working on the other habits from the previous weeks. In addition to this, just add this one simple habit: slow down your eating and stop to chew and taste what is going in your mouth.

Here are the links to the previous 2013 weekly habits in case you missed them:
Week 1: Kitchen Cleanout (at the end of the introduction to this series)

Berardi, J., Andrews, R. The essentials of sport and exercise nutrition: Precision Nutrition certification manual, 2nd ed. Precision Nutrition, 2012.

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