Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The world is waking up to bite counting

Slowly but surely bite counting as a way to lose weight and control wieght  is becoming more known. I found a study that just came out in November 2013 studying people counting bites.

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The obesity epidemic has triggered a need for novel methods for measuring eating activity in free-living settings. Here, we introduce a bite-count method that has the potential to be used in long-term investigations of eating activity. The purpose of our observational study was to describe the relationship between bite count and energy intake and determine whether there are sex and body mass index group differences in kilocalories per bite in free-living human beings. From October 2011 to February 2012, 77 participants used a wrist-worn device for 2 weeks to measure bite count during 2,975 eating activities. An automated self-administered 24-hour recall was completed daily to provide kilocalorie estimates for each eating activity. Pearson's correlation indicated a moderate, positive correlation between bite count and kilocalories (r=0.44; P<0.001) across all 2,975 eating activities. The average per-individual correlation was 0.53. A 2 (sex)×3 (body mass index group: normal, overweight, obese) analysis of variance indicated that men consumed 6 kcal more per bite than women on average. However, there were no body mass index group differences in kilocalories per bite. This was the longest study of a body-worn sensor for monitoring eating activity of free-living human beings to date, which highlights the strong potential for this method to be used in future, long-term investigations.

Here is another study which is really really awesome

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In the study, when people with low self-control were given a counter to monitor the number of times they swallowed, they satiated at rates similar to people with high self-control.

Attention to unhealthy food intake can lead to faster satiation
Of all the dieting aids a person could imagine, a baseball pitch counter might be the least likely.

But using a counting device to monitor the intake of unhealthy food can actually help people become satiated on that food more quickly, according to new research by the University of Minnesota’s Joe Redden.

Redden is an assistant professor of marketing in the Carlson School of Management and an expert on the topic of satiation. In the business sense, satiation occurs when “as we repeatedly consume something, we tend to like it less,” Redden says.

Satiation can pose a challenge for marketers in that people don’t enjoy their favorite things—be they products or television shows—indefinitely. But it also serves a very useful purpose when it comes to eating; that is, when a person is satiated, it’s a mechanism to stop eating.

Not all about willpower

Redden’s research gets at the intersection of self-control, desire, and attention. Conventional wisdom says that self-control is largely rooted in willpower, he says, but this research suggests that declining desire plays a key role.  

In the study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, volunteers were grouped into two categories: those who tested as having high self-control and those with low self-control. The researchers then had them use a counter (similar to those used by baseball coaches to monitor their pitchers) to keep track of how many times they swallowed, with an eye toward unhealthy food.

“When we asked people to do that, for high self-control people it didn’t make much difference, because they’re already doing a good job of that themselves; they have their own internal pitch counter,” Redden says. But for people with low self-control, “when you give them this counter … they now satiated like the high self-control people.”

He says the difference is in the “regulation of attention,” and it’s not just about sheer willpower. And paying more attention to what a person is eating is really not that hard to do.

As for healthy foods, pay no attention

Here’s another reason to be jealous of your friends who eat the healthiest. When it comes to eating the really good stuff—the carrots and leafy greens and broccoli—they tend to satiate less quickly.

“It’s kind of a double whammy,” Redden says. “They get tired of the bad stuff faster and they stay interested in the healthy stuff longer.

“The reason is that they’re switching their attention based on the food, whereas with low self-control people, they kind of pay the same attention no matter what it is.”

Here’s where it gets tricky, especially for people with lower self-control. When using the counters, they also tended to satiate more quickly when eating healthy food, which is not the desired outcome.

As Redden says, “You don’t want to pay attention to the healthy stuff. You want to eat carrots while you watch TV; that’s a good thing.”

The bottom line: It’s when you’re eating the decadent cheesecake that you need to be much more attentive.

“This attention to how much you’re having, it’s [like] a button,” says Redden. “When that button gets pushed, you satiate faster.”

        Quote from
Something else the bite counter doesn’t do is track calories – yet.  But the scientists say they are working on a formula – similar to those used on exercise equipment – to provide an estimate for how many calories you’re eating.  And while they recognize that foods vary in terms of their ‘calories per bite’, the researchers have found that in a typical meal, bites average between 20 and 25 calories.  But that assumes that people are eating pretty much the same foods day in and day out

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        Bites as a measure
Isn't a bite of carrots different from a bite of candy? Of course. But nobody gains or loses weight in a single bite, or even a single meal. A common guideline is to lose a pound of weight per week. Our hypothesis is that bite count could serve as a surrogate for calorie count over a period of time. By automating the counting process, and enabling it anywhere, any time, the bite counter can empower individuals to better monitor intake. As with calories, it is possible to count bites for a single meal; but with either measure reduction goals are best evaluated over at least a day. Bite goals, like calorie goals, should be custom set to the individual. This would be based not only upon the size, gender, age, and activity level of the person, but also based upon the foods typically eaten. For example, a vegetarian may have a higher bite count per day than someone who regularly eats more energy-dense foods. In addition, people tend to eat the same foods week to week. Therefore, setting bite reduction goals over a period of time has the same effect as setting calorie reduction goals.

quote from

Volunteers were grouped into two categories: those who tested as having high self-control and those with low self-control.
The researchers had the study subjects use a counter -- similar to those used by baseball coaches to monitor their pitchers -- to keep track of how many times they swallowed.
"For people with high self-control people it didn't make much difference, because they're already doing a good job of that themselves; they have their own internal pitch counter," Redden said in a statement. But for people with low self-control, "when you give them this counter ... they now satiated like the high self-control people."
The findings were published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

My thoughts...

People tend to eat the same foods week to week!!!! And they are saying that Bite Reduction goals Over a Period of Time has the same effect as calorie reduction. AND ITS MUCH MUCH EASIER!!!


  1. I counted bites yesterday just for information purposes. I did not restrict my food in any way--- just ate like I'd like to eat if I wouldn't gain weight:) I had 150 bites during the day. One thing that bothered me though-- I had way more bites at lunch than at dinner, but I know from past experience counting calories that I ate significantly more calories at dinner despite the lower bite count. I ate more calorie dense food at dinner. I guess I shouldn't worry about that?? Over time I assume things will average out. Sometimes I'll be eating more calorie dense food than others. I don't want to over think this system because I love the simplicity of it. Today I'm cutting my bites by about 10 and will slowly drop them down over the next week or two.

  2. Yes, it does not matter whether you eat calorie dense food or low-calorie food, because most people eat the same type of foods on a regular basis. That's ok, if you eat low cal sometimes and high cal sometimes, it does even itself out in the end.

    When I was overeating, I was eating close to 200 bites. 80 bites website says overweight people usually eat over 150 bites per day, just for some interesting trivia! =)

    I think cutting down gradually is the way to go! Your body and mind can get used to things more gradually!