Slower eating leads to higher levels of appetite-sating hormones

There’s a fair chance that at least once in your life you’ve been advised to eat slowly. I think this is good advice, at least in part because slower eating generally means more thorough of chewing of food (which aids digestion and reduces the risk of symptoms such as indigestion, reflux and heartburn). However, another of the benefits of slower eating appears to be its capacity to reduce the risk of unnecessary eating. Back in June, one of my blogs looked at a study which showed that slower eating reduced the amount eaten of a test food (semi-solid custard) by study subjects.

But what is it about slower eating that might lead to less food being consumed? This was essentially the question being posed in a study published recently in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism [1]. In this study, the effect of eating speed on the secretion of appetite-regulating was assessed. Three hormones were assessed:

Ghrelin (higher levels of which stimulate appetite)
Peptide YY (higher levels of which suppress appetite)
Glucagon-like-peptide-1 (higher levels of which suppress appetite)

The test subjects ate 300 mls of ice-cream on two separate occasions. On one of these sitting they were advised to consume it in 5 minutes. On another occasion, they were to take a much-more-leisurely half an hour to consume the ice cream. Levels of appetite regulating hormones were measured every 30 minutes for 3½ hours.

The results showed that ghrelin levels were not significantly different between the two tests. However, both peptide YY and glucagon-like-peptide-1 levels were higher after the 30-minute eating test compared to the 5-minute one.

In other words, slower eating led to higher levels of hormones that induce satiety.

This provides at least some biochemical basis for the observation that individuals eating slowly tend to eat less than those eating more quickly. For more information on the benefits of slower eating, see my recent post on ‘mindful eating‘.


1. Kokkinos A, et al. Eating slowly increases the posprandial response of the anorxigenic gut hormones, peptide YY and glucagon-like-peptide-1.

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