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Small Bites, Big Weight Loss


When it comes to weight control, the size of your bites may be more important than the size of your portions. A new Arizona State University study finds that cutting food into smaller pieces may boost satiety more than eating one larger piece of food with the same number of calories. Scientists say this may be because a greater number of smaller pieces gives the appearance of a larger quantity.

In a previous animal study, mice preferred eating four 75 milligram pellets rather than one 300 milligram pellet. To examine the theory in humans, researchers asked over 300 college students to take part in an experiment in which they were given a three ounce bagel, either whole or cut into four pieces. Twenty minutes after noshing on the bagel, each student was allowed to eat as much as they wanted of a free lunch. Those who had the whole, unsliced bagel downed more calories from both the bagel and the subsequent lunch.

To test this trick yourself, cut your food into smaller pieces, eat slowly, and stop when you feel like you’ve had enough, even if that means not finishing your meal. Or reach for “loose” foods, that naturally provide more pieces per serving and can be eaten one at a time, such as:

Grape tomatoes
String beans
Snow peas

Button mushrooms
Asparagus spears
Baby Brussels sprouts
Popped popcorn

The ultimate small bite snack may just be a combination of: fresh grapes, popped popcorn, shelled edamame, and almonds! 

What’s your take on this topic? Do smaller pieces make you feel more full? Please tweet your thoughts to @cynthiasass and @Shape_Magazine.

Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.


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