Attention, gum chewers: Your habit may be healthier than you think. As for the rest of you, listen up!
There’s more and more evidence that chewing sugar-free gum can help you lose weight in the long term. Laboratory research findings from the University of Rhode Island, released last October, suggest that chewing gum may help reduce your calorie intake and enhance energy expenditure (calorie burning).
More specifically, the study shows that over half a day you might be able to save over sixty calories just by casually chewing sugar-free gum for an hour in the morning. The research also showed that when people chewed gum before and after eating, calorie burning could be higher than in non-gum chewers by about 5 percent.
This hasn’t been the only study reporting on the benefits of sugar-free gum. Several have concluded that by chewing gum before snacking, you might be able to curb your cravings, reduce your hunger level, and shrink your calorie intake from the snacks. Though all these studies are talking about small calorie differences, we’re reminded frequently by dietitians that little changes can add up to major differences in the long run. After all, if you’re reducing sixty calories daily, that may add up to a weight loss of about six pounds in a year!
And chewing gum has caught on in “reality,” too: Contestants on NBC’s The Biggest Loser in the U.S. are encouraged to chew sugar-free gum to potentially help reduce food cravings.
We’re not saying the gum habit is perfect, though. So keep these points in mind:
- Popular sugary gums provide twenty-five calories a piece. So be sure to choose sugar-free varieties that are about five calories per serving.
- Don’t overdo it. Too much sugar-free gum may cause loose stools or diarrhea because of a frequently used sweetening ingredient called sugar alcohol. Sorbitol and xylitol, for instance, are sugar alcohols found in many sugar-free gums. (The right amount of gum varies from person to person.) The good news: Sugar alcohols, especially xylitol, are responsible for anti-cavity action.
- Chewing gum with your mouth open can contribute to swallowed air, which can promote bloating or gas. And it’s probably really, really annoying to the people around you!
If you’re still not ready to go for the gum, think about this. Research shows that it may help alleviate typical daily stressors like getting stuck in the slow line at the store. Other benefits: it boosts concentration and alertness. And if you feel hungry between meals, gum can help you tame your appetite and resist the urge for calorie-dense munchies. By steering clear of unplanned snacks, you’ll ultimately be reducing calorie intake.
Gum can also take the place of a rich dessert. Chew it immediately after the meal to help you say “no, thank you.” If you nibble while you cook, chew gum and you’ll be less likely to eat dinner before you actually serve it.
Finally, the classic advice to chew sugar-free gum to help prevent tooth decay and to freshen breath is still good.