There are those people who look for the most interesting and effortless ways to lose weight. Apparently, they count the calories burnt while chewing gum. Flavors of gum are so diverse you can’t help but try that watermelon gum in bright packaging. Is it safe to just chew gum all the time? I mean, you certainly spend calories while doing it, the repetitive motion might strengthen your jaw muscles, and gum can help someone quit smoking. But again, is it safe? Is this the best way to lose weight? How many calories can you burn a day just by chewing gum? Can you just do nothing else and chew all day long? Let’s find out all of that and establish whether it’s a good way to lose weight. (Spoiler alert: not bad, but only in a complex way.)
Do You Burn Calories When You Chew Gum?
Any movement you make burns calories. Chewing gum burns 11 calories per hour, according to the New England Journal of Medicine (18). Considering that one sugar-free stick is approximately 5 calories, you spend over 2x more by chewing it for 60 minutes. Keep in mind that gum with sugar content has at least 10 kcal in one stick.
Easy calculations show that if you chew gum every day for 4 hours, you’ll spend an extra 308 calories a week.
I sense that some readers may be disappointed with the numbers when counting gum calories.
You see, there’s no single magical pill that will shed 20 pounds in a week without poor health consequences. It’s all about consistency and a complex approach. And it’s not just about how you look, it’s about your health and how you feel.
Further in the article, you’ll see that this gum-chewing thing could actually become a part of your weight loss complex.
Weight Loss Benefits Of Chewing Gum
Is chewing gum good for weight loss?
To prove that it’s 100% effective for weight loss and health, we need much more specific research. Moreover, the few studies that have already been completed have varying results.
But there’s something to base opinions on.
Taming The Hunger Beast
Lower Calorie Intake
When dieting, the key to weight loss is a slight deficit of consumed calories, just enough to shed 1-2 pounds a week. If you chew gum between breakfast and lunch, it may not only help you avoid snacking but you may eat slightly less at lunchtime (5).
Increased Calorie Burn
A stick of gum after a meal may help you burn slightly more calories for the few hours after that meal (6).
Of course, not all people in every study found the same weight loss benefits. Some say gum wasn’t effective for them (1). A number of people felt less likely to eat fruits after frequent gum chewing.
Fruits are important due to their nutritious value, so this isn’t a good thing.
The results are individual. Some may chew gum and go through their working day without a thought of a snack, while others see no difference. Sometimes, eating slower is even more effective than the gum hack (9).
Let’s say this hack works for you. It’s still wise to make more changes to your lifestyle if you want to see significant improvements in your health or weight. For example, you can start taking the stairs more often and add more greens into your diet. These actions will amplify the weekly calorie expense.
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More Benefits And Potential Drawbacks
More research is needed to establish clear pros and cons, but here are the estimated ‘for’ and ‘against’ points.
Chewing sugar-free gum stimulates your salivary glands, which will create enough saliva to ‘clean’ your mouth after a meal, neutralizing bacterial acids (4).
It also promotes tooth health, along with your regular oral care routine, decreasing the risk of cavities and caries.
There’s no research supporting this claim, but gum lovers say that chewing can shape your jaw and tone those muscles.
Aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin are all artificial sweeteners labeled as GRAS or Generally Recognized As Safe by the FDA (2). However, some believe that they may have a connection to diabetes, poor gut health, and other diseases (12).
May Contain Acids
Some fruit-flavored gums contain acids that may increase the risks of developing dental erosion (3).
More Burning Calories Tips For A Boost
Some recommendations for those eager to start chewing ASAP:
Chew When You Crave Taboo Foods
But not if you crave normal food and your stomach is rumbling. If you’re really hungry, go for a healthy snack like ¼ cup of hummus with some veggies or some nuts and berries. If it’s a psychological craving for junk food and sweets (which is a topic for another article), chewing gum instead might help.
Chew To Prevent Mindless Snacking
When you’re watching TV, playing a game, or even writing an article, sometimes your hands may go for that bag of chips or even nuts just because. As you’re not focused on eating during that time, you could finish the bag in 15 minutes. That’s definitely over 100 grams and potentially an extra 500+ kcal to your daily intake.
A stick of gum might decrease that intake to just a couple of calories, or help you avoid it altogether.
Keep Gum In Your Purse
But not any gum – go for sugar-free gum with minimum artificial dyes and other harmful chemicals. It may be difficult to find such gum in grocery stores, but you can get it online. Keep some in your pockets and purses/bags just in case you go past a fast food cafe and crave that greasy cheeseburger.
Chew When You Cook
Unless you really need to try that dish while cooking, consider chewing neutral gum to make sure you don’t nibble too much.
Chew While You Walk
Chewing gum and walking in a combo might cause you to burn 0.4 more calories per minute (14). It’s not a lot, but every small addition counts. The change occurs due to a slightly increased heart rate and oxygen consumption.
Don’t Overdo It
A very underestimated tip for weight loss enthusiasts who want to do everything in one day to lose as many pounds as possible. Nothing is healthy if it’s too much, even if we’re talking about dieting and exercising.
Chewing gum may seem an innocent attempt to freshen your breath and shave a couple more pounds, but if it contains either sugar or a sweetener called sorbitol, that should be a no-go. This is a sugar alcohol that can cause diarrhea and abdominal pain because it’s not absorbed well by the small intestine (11).
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Burning More Calories Daily: 8 Healthy Recommendations
We all spend a generous amount of calories just being alive. However, as many of us eat more than our bodies usually spend in a day, here are some ways to burn more every day.
The first 3 are a given, but the other ones may surprise you a little.
A balanced meal plan with all the micro and macronutrients will do most of the job. Make it more nutritious, and soon enough your body will stop craving junk food and sweets. It’s all about habits.
Daily walking, gym, home training, walking a dog, going out with friends, or/and hiking can all become pleasant and effective ways to burn more calories and maintain a calorie deficit.
Lack of sleep messes up your hormones, slows metabolism, and increases nervousness and hunger. You may lose less fat and more non-fat body mass if you sleep 5.5 hours or less at night (16). Make sure you have 7-9 hours of quality sleep.
Relax (Take It Easy)
Stress management is an important factor in your health, both physical and mental. Relaxation and stress-relief techniques can help you lose weight faster (15). Such an approach will make the weight loss journey much more pleasant and stress-free, improving your mental health condition as well.
Consider daily meditation. Start with 15 minutes of breathing practices a day.
Of course, I don’t mean laughing all day just because you can. That’s not healthy, even though they say laughing prolongs your life. But laughing out loud for 10-15 minutes may actually make your body spend 2-10 extra calories (13). Plus, it’s a great mood booster!
Stand And Walk More
This is especially important for office workers. It’s hard to imagine training at work, but standing up frequently, walking a little bit, and warming up your joints can become a part of your weekdays. Your spine, knees, shoulders, muscles, and all the systems of your body will be grateful.
Turn On The A/C Every Once In A While
Being in cooler temperatures, especially while you sleep, is thought to change fat metabolism by turning white fat (the one responsible for energy storage) into brown fat (the one generating heat) (8). So, the next time you go to sleep, consider lowering the temperature in the room slightly. But make sure you’re comfortable with the temperature and can still get quality sleep.
Chewing gum really does help you burn a few more calories. 300 extra kcal a week doesn’t sound like a lot, so this definitely isn’t the magic pill for weight loss.
There’s no such pill and we should accept it.
It’s best to use gum-like hacks in moderation when you find it difficult to control your cravings, for example. But chewing all day every day without any other healthy weight loss efforts probably won’t have any noticable effects.
So, it’s best to get a meal plan that will satisfy all the nutritional needs of your body, engage in some physical activity you enjoy, sleep well, stand and walk more, relieve stress, meditate, and drink lots of water (and some tea or coffee when you want).
Then, those 300 calories a week will be boosted by all the other efforts you put into weight loss, bringing pleasant results every month!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Acute and chronic effects of gum chewing on food reinforcement and energy intake (2013, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Additional Information about High-Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for Use in Food in the United States (n.d., fda.gov)
- Are sugar-free confections really beneficial for dental health? (2011, nature.com)
- Chewing Gum (n.d., ada.org)
- Chewing gum decreases energy intake at lunch following a controlled breakfast (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Chewing gum increases energy expenditure before and after controlled breakfasts (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Chewing Stimulation Reduces Appetite Ratings and Attentional Bias toward Visual Food Stimuli in Healthy-Weight Individuals (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Cool Temperature Alters Human Fat and Metabolism (2014, nih.gov)
- Effect of postprandial gum chewing on diet-induced thermogenesis (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of chewing gum on short-term appetite regulation in moderately restrained eaters (2011, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of olestra and sorbitol consumption on objective measures of diarrhea: impact of stool viscosity on common gastrointestinal symptoms (2000, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of Sweeteners on the Gut Microbiota: A Review of Experimental Studies and Clinical Trials (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Energy expenditure of genuine laughter (2007, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Gum chewing while walking increases fat oxidation and energy expenditure (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Impact of a stress management program on weight loss, mental health and lifestyle in adults with obesity: a randomized controlled trial (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Short-term effects of chewing gum on satiety and afternoon snack intake in healthy weight and obese women (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Energy Expended in Chewing Gum (1999, nejm.org)