Dr Miriam: Try bite counting to lose weight at Christmas

Dr Miriam: Try bite counting to lose weight at Christmas

No one wants to start counting calories with the festive season upon us. Counting calories is boring, right?

Well, how about counting bites instead. No, I’m serious. It could work – and especially over Christmas and New Year.

It’s scientifically accepted that to lose weight , we must consume fewer calories than our bodies burn, creating an internal energy deficit.

Our bodies then turn to stored energy, mainly in the form of fat, to fuel themselves.

Recently, Professor Josh West of Utah, America, was considering alternative ways to lose weight other than calorie counting and he came up with bite counting.

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To find out if this would work, he and his colleagues recruited 61 overweight or obese men and women ranging from 18 to 65, who wanted to lose weight .

In Phase 1, bite counting involved tracking how many times volunteers chewed or swallowed.

Every food or liquid was counted except water, but eating habits weren’t changed.

In the second phase, volunteers were split into two groups who had to reduce their bite count by a fifth and a third respectively and concentrate on filling foods.

By the end of a month, the participants in both groups had lost an average of about 3.5 pounds.

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Professor West said the volunteers in both groups reported that bite counting seemed “do-able and tolerable” although, he added, anyone who had found the process particularly onerous would likely quit during week one.

Mind you, the study was small and short-term, and doesn’t show whether people would willingly continue to count bites over a period long enough to sustain their weight loss.

But the findings do suggest, Dr West said, that bite counting is worth trying if someone wishes to lose weight and is put off by calorie counting.

He has practised bite counting for three years, he said, without regaining the pounds he lost at the start of this routine and without curtailing his enjoyment of food.

So what can you do this Christmas ? First count how many bites you take during a normal day.

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Ideally, start now. Note every time you chew or swallow.

Then during the upcoming feasts, maintain or reduce that number, with a reduction of a fifth for the most effective for weight loss, Dr West said.

So your baseline bite count might be 250 per day. Reduce that by a fifth and when you get to 200 bites, you stop eating for the rest of the day.

It doesn’t, of course, free you from paying attention to eating healthily – mainly fruit, veg and lean meat.

You’re not going to lose any weight reducing your bites if most of those bites are roast potatoes and Christmas pudding!


By Adam