Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size
A
A
A

Diet Secret: Small Pieces of Food More Filling

College Students, Rats Eat Less When Food Is in Small Pieces
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

July 10, 2012 -- Call it the cut-up-food-diet: We feel full faster, and eat less later, when our food is served in small pieces.

It works in both college students and lab rats, according to a study by Devina Wadhera and colleagues at Arizona State University.

"Cutting up energy-dense foods into smaller pieces may be beneficial to dieters who wish to make their meal more satiating while also maintaining portion control," Wadhera says in a news release.

The researchers first tried this on lab rats. The animals were trained to run through a maze. Then the animals were offered a reward for running quickly through the maze. For 20 rats, the reward was a single chunk of food. For another 20 rats, the reward was 30 small pieces of food weighing the same as the large piece offered to the other rats.

After 12 trips through the maze, the result was clear. Rats preferred -- and worked harder for -- the same amount of food served in smaller pieces.

Okay, it's easy to fool a rat. But what about college students?

Wadhera's team split 301 male and female students into two groups. One was offered a whole bagel covered with cream cheese. The other group was offered the same kind of bagel, cut into four pieces and covered with the same amount of cream cheese.

The group that got the whole bagel ate a little more of it than those who got the cut-up bagel. But the real difference came 20 minutes later, when all of the students were offered a free meal.

Those who'd eaten the cut-up bagel -- even though they'd eaten a little less -- ate less of the free meal.

"Perhaps cutting up foods into multiple, bite-sized pieces may perceptually look like more and therefore elicit greater satiation than a single-piece food portion," Wadhera and colleagues suggest.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, held this week in Zurich, Switzerland.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

Today on WebMD

vegetables
Video
feet on scale
Blog
 
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Article
Hot cup of coffee
Quiz
 
pantry
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens