Chewing Gum for Weight Loss: Does It Work?

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Many people believe that chewing gum is an effective weight loss tool.

Some report it helps keep them away from mindless eating, while others swear it keeps their cravings away or helps shape their face by toning their muscles.

This article looks into the science behind these claims to determine whether chewing gum can truly help shape your face or shed unwanted weight.

Although not all studies agree, some research suggests that chewing gum may offer the following weight loss benefits.

May help you feel less hungry and experience fewer cravings

The action of chewing may reduce hunger, make you feel fuller, and help you experience fewer cravings, particularly for snacks (1, 2).

In one recent study, chewing gum reduced hunger and cravings after a 10-hour fast as effectively as drinking a calorie-rich beverage (3).

In another study, a proportion of participants were asked to chew sugarless gum for 30 minutes following a meal. Gum chewers reported feeling fuller than non-gum-chewers as early as 5 minutes after beginning to chew (4).

Furthermore, a recent review of 15 studies, 5 of which specifically examined gum chewing, suggests that the process of chewing may stimulate the release of specific gut hormones, in turn, reducing hunger and food intake (5).

That said, not all studies have observed similar findings. Therefore, chewing gum may not be an effective way to reduce hunger or food intake for everyone (6, 7).

Moreover, research suggests that chewing gum may reduce your desire to eat fruit, possibly reducing your overall diet quality (6).

May help you eat fewer calories

Some people like to chew gum between meals, as they believe it aids weight loss by helping them consume fewer calories during the day.

In one study, participants who chewed gum between breakfast and lunch not only felt less hungry between meals but also ate around 68 fewer calories at lunch than those who didn’t chew gum (8).

For reference, this is approximately equivalent to 2 teaspoons (10 grams) of peanut butter or one small piece of fruit.

Similarly, other studies suggest that chewing gum after a meal may help you eat up to a 10% smaller portion of a snack 3 hours later than if you hadn’t chewed any gum (1, 2).

Although these findings appear promising, keep in mind that the reductions in calorie intake remain small. Plus, it’s currently unclear whether they result in significant long-term weight loss.

In addition, not all studies have found similar results. In fact, some report that gum chewing has little influence on food or calorie intake. Therefore, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made (6, 7).

May help you burn slightly more calories

A few small studies suggest that the action of chewing gum may help burn a few additional calories.

In one small study, participants who chewed gum before and after breakfast burned around 3–5% more calories in the 3 hours following the meal, compared with those who didn’t chew gum (9).

In another study, chewing gum after a meal increased diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT), which is the number of calories burned through digestion.

However, the number of extra calories burned remained very small, and simply eating the same meal more slowly was even more effective at raising DIT than chewing gum (10).

Research further suggests that chewing gum while walking may aid weight loss. It’s believed to do so by increasing your heart rate and walking speed, possibly resulting in increased calorie and fat burning.

However, at 0.4–6 additional calories burned per 15 minutes of walking, the benefits remain small. Therefore, it’s unlikely this will produce significant weight loss results without being coupled with other dietary and lifestyle changes (11, 12).

Moreover, some people claim that chewing gum may help shape your face by toning your muscles. However, no research supports this claim.

SUMMARY

Chewing gum may help reduce hunger and cravings, increase feelings of fullness, and help you eat less. It may also help you burn slightly more calories per day. However, it’s unclear whether any of these effects would result in long-term weight loss.

Chewing gum comes in several varieties, including sugar- and nicotine-containing, sugar-free, and caffeinated gums.

Certain varieties are commonly believed to help you lose more weight than others, even though research comparing their effects is often lacking.

Sugar-free gum

Sugar is considered unhelpful when trying to lose weight or prevent weight gain. This is why sugar-free gum is typically considered superior to sugar-containing gum.

That said, regular gum only contains 2 more calories per 2-gram piece than sugar-free gum. Such a small difference is unlikely to help you lose more weight (13, 14).

It’s also worth keeping in mind that sugar-free gum often contains artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame or sucralose, which are linked to poor gut health, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity (15, 16).

They may also contain sugar alcohols like sorbitol, which is known to cause cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhea, especially when consumed in amounts exceeding 5–20 grams per day (17).

This typically amounts to 4–16 pieces of gum per day, depending on the brand of sugar-free gum.

Nicotine-containing gums

Nicotine, a compound typically found in cigarettes, is known to reduce appetite, causing people to eat less. In addition, nicotine may slightly raise your metabolism, causing your body to burn a few extra calories per day (18).

This may explain why people chewing nicotine gum while attempting to quit smoking often gain less weight than those chewing regular gum or not chewing any gum at all (19, 20, 21).

That said, nicotine is highly addictive and has various detrimental effects on your health. Therefore, unless you’re trying to quit smoking, chewing nicotine gum in an attempt to lose weight is not recommended (18).

Caffeine-containing gums

Caffeine, a compound commonly found in coffee and tea, may also help you lose weight by increasing the number of calories and amount of fat your body burns (22, 23).

One review including over 600 participants suggests that greater caffeine intakes may be linked to lower weight, fat mass, and body mass index (BMI) (22).

Other studies suggest that caffeine can help you burn more fat while both resting and exercising (23, 24).

As such, weight loss supplements or gums containing caffeine may help you lose a little weight, at least initially. However, your body becomes accustomed to regular caffeine use over time, which may reduce its effects (25).

Moreover, caffeine gums typically contain 25–100 mg of caffeine per piece.

Thus, chewing as little as a few pieces per day may cause you to exceed the safe daily caffeine limit of 400 mg, especially if you also consume other caffeine-containing foods or drinks.

Too much caffeine can cause you to feel jittery and have difficulty sleeping. In very high doses, it may also cause nausea, vomiting, an exceedingly fast heart rate, and even seizures. Thus, excessive caffeine intakes should be avoided (25).

SUMMARY

Some may have difficulty tolerating sugar-free gum, and it’s unlikely to provide any additional weight loss benefits. Those wishing to consume caffeine gums should do so sparingly. Nicotine gum should generally be avoided.

Chewing gum may help you feel slightly less hungry, experience fewer cravings, and feel full for longer. In turn, this can help you eat slightly fewer calories over the day.

However, its effects appear to be negligible and are unlikely to cause any long-term weight loss results without being coupled with significant dietary or lifestyle changes.

Moreover, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest that chewing gum may help shape your face by toning your muscles.

Sugar-free gum is unlikely to provide any additional benefits over regular gum. Caffeine-containing gum may be slightly more beneficial but should be used sparingly.

Unless you’re also trying to quit smoking, chewing nicotine gum in an attempt to lose weight should be avoided completely.

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