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Crunchy foods: The new key to weight loss?

A recent study highlights the impact of food texture on calorie consumption and sheds light on a new approach to weight loss. 

Researchers from Wageningen University have found that consuming crunchy or chewy foods may significantly impact our eating pace and overall calorie intake.

The science of chewing

The experts discovered that when we consume crunchy or chewy foods, our eating pace slows down by 50 percent, leading to approximately 20 percent less food intake during a meal. 

This phenomenon is attributed to the fact that eating slower generally makes one feel fuller than when eating quickly.

Importance of texture

Professor Ciarán Forde, the senior author of the study, emphasized the importance of texture in our diet

“We now have more than a decade of evidence that people choosing textures which encourage them to eat more slowly, like crunchier, harder or chewier foods, can help to consume fewer calories, while still feeling equally satisfied,” said Professor Forde.

“What is appealing in using meal textures to change behaviour and intake is that people can still enjoy eating the foods they like, while reducing the risk of over-consumption. It means people can still enjoy a meal and eat until comfortably full, without having to feel restricted.”

Focus of the research

In an experiment involving 50 participants, the researchers presented four different lunches, each similar in size. 

The lunches were categorized into two groups: ultra-processed and minimally processed. Each group had one meal with a harder, crunchier texture and another that was softer and easier to eat.

Key insights

The study revealed a significant difference in calorie consumption based on the texture of the meals. Participants consumed 26 percent fewer calories from the meals with a harder texture. This trend was consistent regardless of the meal’s level of processing. 

Some examples of the harder textured meals include boiled rice instead of mashed potatoes, a crunchy salad over coleslaw, and a chewy chicken breast as opposed to fish bites.

Additional observations

The meal plans also included a hard fresh apple instead of canned soft mangos, thick plain yogurt versus a flavored yogurt drink, and a chunky tomato salsa over tartare sauce. 

Each lunch had an equal calorie count and was similarly rated in terms of taste. However, the crunchy foods resulted in a reduction of around 300 calories because participants ate less of these meals.

Broader implications

The study indicates that the increased need for chewing, which significantly slows down the eating pace, can impact calorie intake. 

The authors suggest that eating more slowly may enhance the body’s ability to monitor food intake, potentially leading to a feeling of fullness more quickly and a decrease in food consumption.

The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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