Why We Over-Eat

20 Minutes to a Hard Body Get Full Without Getting Fat, And Other Tips by t-nations Chris Shugart paints an interesting picture of why human beings act the way they do when it comes to food. All in all, we are far from a perfect species that uses advanced and accurate methods for determining when we’ve eaten the right amount of food. In fact, most of us possess the biology that ensures that we over-eat at every possible opportunity.

We don’t have immediate feedback from our bodies telling us we’ve eaten enough. It takes about 20 minutes for food to be digested enough that glucose gets into the bloodstream and the hormones start working.

20 minutes is just long enough for us to eat about twice as much as we need to so it would appear that we’ve evolved to TRY to get fat. This is fine and good when there isn’t a surplus of food and we need to gorge every chance we get. But there’s no shortage of food in our modern world to this system gets in the way of eating appropriately.

Lesson – eat a small to medium sized meal and wait for 20 minutes before eating a second helping. If you are still hungry, eat a little more. If you aren’t, you made the right call stopping.

… secretaries ate more chocolates when they were easily within reach, and they ate more when they were visible instead of covered. And the kicker here is that they usually didn’t realize they were consuming more calories from closely-placed foods.

This is pretty amazing when you think about it: If a human being sees food within reach, he’ll eat it, even if he’s not hungry. If that same food is a few feet away and/or hidden from view, he’s less likely to eat it.

So seeing food makes us want the food. Great mechanism in a world where there isn’t a lot of food because we’ll eat EVERY chance we get, but this doesn’t make sense now given that we have an abundance of food.

Lesson – make sure you do not have easy access to any food that you don’t want to eat or know you shouldn’t be eating.

Think High Volume, Low Energy. By “energy” I mean calories. Some foods are calorically dense; others aren’t. The idea here is to have low-density foods with every meal so you’ll feel full without adding tons of calories. Basically, you’re taking up space in your stomach so you don’t eat so damn much.

The stomach will send stop eating signals to the brain when it gets physically full. This is a secondary and less accurate method for determining satiation but the outcome is the same, we stop eating.

Lesson – if you want to eat less overall, eat high volume, low calorie yield foods.