Weight Loss

Weight loss: Is bite counting the new step counting?

Watching your bites could help you watch your weight. Image by: Getty Images Author: Tralee Pearce

Weight Loss

Weight loss: Is bite counting the new step counting?

A new study has found that simply reducing the number of bites you take in a day can help you lose weight.

In the ongoing debate over the best way to lose weight and eat healthy, most of the focus has been on what kinds of foods we’re eating—from low-fat to high-protein and beyond. A new diet theory takes a very different approach, suggesting that by simply taking fewer bites daily, we can lose weight. The idea is that quantity trumps quality.

The theory comes out of an experimental study from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Health sciences professor and researcher Joshua West and his colleagues found that people who counted bites over the period of a month lost about four pounds.

Researchers asked participants to count the number of bites they take in a day, then asked them to reduce that number by about 20 to 30 percent. The 41 subjects who stuck with the task lost weight despite making no other changes to their diet or exercise habits.

A personalized approach
Professor West said there is no magic number of daily bites that lead to weight loss. Instead, it’s a personalized approach, based on counting the number of bites or gulps of liquid other than water you ingest daily over the period of a week. Take the average count and reduce by 20 to 30 percent and you have your goal.

So, if you average 100 bites a day, he says, you’d reduce that to 80 bites. West says the average bite is about 20 to 35 calories. “Obviously chocolate cake or fudge will be on the high end.”

While more research is needed to determine whether people can adhere to this approach over a long period of time—and whether the weight loss holds, too—the research team is already putting the theory into action. With the help of the university’s computer science program, they’ve created a smartphone app based on their work to automate bite counting. This may address the reason about 20 of the original participants dropped out: It was difficult to count bites and drinks every day.

Might bite counting become as big as step counting in the era of fitness trackers? We’ll stay tuned. In the meantime, West says these metrics help us become aware of our heath habits. “If you have more data about yourself, you’re in a better position to make informed choices,” he says.

Get more ideas for losing weight easily and five tips for eating right.


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Weight Loss

Weight loss: Is bite counting the new step counting?