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Fundamentals Of Good Nutrition: Need For Speed

This week, Ciaran Ruddock from FFS helps us to simplify nutrition through his top tips.

Would you like to make nutrition simpler? Do you ever find calorie counting confusing?

Today, we’re going to examine how eating speed can help you achieve your health and fitness goals.

In previous articles, we spoke about listening to our body’s hunger cues, and how our body is pretty good at telling us what we need, we just need to learn to listen.

One of the most powerful factors that affects our body’s hunger cues is the speed at which we eat.

Let’s  split this into two distinct categories:

  1. Eating to reduce or maintain body weight
  2. Eating to increase body weight



1. Eating to reduce or maintain body weight

If your goal is to decrease or maintain your body fat levels, I would recommend that you slow down when eating, taking 20 minutes or more to eat your meal.

When we slow down our eating our body gets the chance to tell us when we have had enough. In general, it takes roughly 20 minutes for our hunger signals to kick in.

Have you ever eaten very quickly and then a few minutes after finishing your meal, you realise that you have eaten too much and now you can barely move?

Slowing down our eating speed leads to a decrease in overall food intake. This decrease in food intake means that you will consume less calories on a daily basis.  If your goal is to get leaner or stay lean, then eating slowly will help to manage your energy balance, and in turn your body composition.

There are many strategies that can help you slow down when eating:

  • Putting your cutlery down between bites
  • Eating with your non-dominant hand. For example, if you are right-handed, put your spoon in your left hand.
  • Eating with chopsticks
  • Have a conversation with someone at your next meal.
  • Chew your food more. Really savour the flavours. Try to notice and name how the food tastes.


2. Eating to increase body weight

If the goal is to increase your body weight or muscle mass then I would recommend eating your meal in less than 20 minutes.

We know that slowing down leads to a decrease in the amount of food eaten, which in turn leads to a decrease in calorie intake and ultimately a decrease in body fat and body weight.

If we want to increase our muscle mass or bodyweight we need to do the opposite and eat more food, which meaning you will be increasing your calorie intake and ultimately see an increase in your muscle mass and body weight.

If you are someone who is physically active or finds it challenging to build muscle or increase bodyweight, you might know what it feels like to try and force yourself to eat enough.

It can be challenging to eat that extra piece of steak or that extra potato when you are feeling full, but you need to eat it for the ‘gainz’!

Take a page out of an eating champions’ playbook; by increasing your eating speed; you will be able to eat a greater volume of food at each meal.

Important note: try to keep your table manners in check, you don’t want to be that guy who is spitting food everywhere and eating with your mouth open.

Depending on your goals, you are going to have a different need for speed. The take-home points when it comes to eating speed are:

– The speed at which you eat will influence the amount you eat
– Eat quicker if you want to increase your muscle mass or bodyweight
– Eat slower if you want to decrease your body fat or bodyweight

Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.