Nutrition Study: How Texture of Food Can Impact Weight Loss and Caloric Intake

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Nutrition Study Shows Crunchy, Harder Textures Lead to Eating Less

By Brooke Steinberg

Published Dec. 7, 2023, 12:17 p.m. ET

It’s crunch time.

Dietitians will attest that one of the first rules of weight loss is to eat slowly, allowing your body time to feel full once enough food is in the belly.

Nevertheless, when hunger strikes, it can be hard not to power through every bite.

So, for those who struggle to savor a meal, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people eat up to half as fast when they have to chew more, leading to about 20% less food consumption.

This means that foods with hard, crunchy, or chewy textures, which require more mastication to swallow, could facilitate weight loss by preventing eaters from eating too much at once and feeling satisfied more quickly.

A group of 50 people were given four different but similar lunches: two ultra-processed and two minimally processed, with one meal in each category containing foods harder and crunchier in texture than the other.

Researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands discovered that those who ate crunchier meals consumed 26% fewer calories.

Researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands discovered that those who had the crunchier meals consumed 26% fewer calories — regardless of how processed it was — since they’re harder to eat quickly.

Soft meals included mashed potatoes, coleslaw, fish bites, canned soft mangoes, a flavored yogurt drink, and tartare sauce.

On the other hand, the harder meals had boiled rice, a crunchy salad, chewy chicken breast, apples, thick unflavored yogurt, and a lumpier tomato salsa.

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All lunches had similar ratings on how good they tasted and had the same amount of calories — but those who ate the harder lunches consumed fewer of those calories, about 300 less, due to eating less of the food provided.

The lowest calorie rate in the study was the hard, minimally processed meal at 483 calories while the highest was the soft, ultra-processed meal at 790 calories on average.

Since the people in the groups with crunchier lunches had to chew more before swallowing, the rate at which they consumed the meal was slowed down by up to half and they appeared to eat less.

Researchers believe that the slower a person eats, the better the body can keep track of how much food has been consumed, meaning the person might realize they are fuller faster and will stop eating.

“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 study author and professor Ciarán Forde in a statement.

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

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