Counting the amount of calories you consume is out. Counting the amount of bites you take while eating is in. A recent study conducted by researchers from BYU has revealed that counting the amount of bites we take while eating can lead to promising results toward our weight loss goals.

"This study confirms what we already knew: Consuming less food makes a difference," said lead author Josh West in a statement. "We're not advocating people starve themselves, what we're talking about is people eating less than they're currently eating."

West and his colleagues recruited 61 participants who were asked to count the number of times they lifted food to their mouth and the number of gulps of liquids, excluding water, they took each day. They also committed to taking 20 to 30 percent fewer bites. West and his co-author Ben Crookston called counting bites “a doable, cost-effective option for the 70 percent of Americans who are overweight.”

By the end of the four-week study, 41 of the participants who finished the experiment lost an average of 4 pounds. Participants who did not end up finishing the experiment struggled with keeping up on counting their bites. Now the research team is working with BYU’s Computer Science on an algorithm capable of counting bites via a wearable device.

"We felt pretty good about how much weight they lost given the relatively short span of the study," West explained. "Now we need to follow up to see if they keep it off, or if they lose more weight."

A similar study conducted at the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Christian University (TCU) found that people who eat at a slower pace are better able to control their energy intake and are satisfied with their meal for longer. Overweight and obese people participating in the study were able to reduce their caloric intake from fast-paced eating to slow-paced eating by 58 kcal.

"We're consuming considerably more calories than we did a generation ago or two generations ago; at the same time we're much less active," Crookston said. "The good news is that you don't have to be extreme calorie cutting. Even a 20 percent reduction in bites makes a difference."

Findings from the TCU study not only showed that participants were able to reduce energy intake and suppress hunger levels, but they were also able to consume 12 ounces of water compared to 9 ounces. Higher water consumption coupled with slow-paced eating likely resulted in stomach distention and affected food consumption.

Source: Hall C, Jenne N, Young D, Ellsworth M, West J. Pilot Test of A Bites-Focused Weight Loss Intervention. Advances in Obesity, Weight Management & Control. 2015.