Possibly, though you certainly don’t have to start a gum habit if you don’t already chew gum.
Here’s the lowdown: Chewing a stick or two of gum won’t magically help you shed pounds. Chewing certainly doesn’t burn many calories, and it won’t undo the calories you just packed away from, say, a large meal or a Thanksgiving feast. Still, for certain individuals, popping a piece of gum could be a helpful strategy when it comes to shedding pounds, especially if doing so helps you steer clear of midday snacking, nighttime nibbling or caving in on dessert.
Gum chewing can be useful in two ways, according to Gans. For some, putting something sugary in their mouth after they’ve eaten can signal that the meal is over. “Some people need something sweet at the end of each meal and will search for dessert. If they pop a piece of chewing gum, maybe it can do the trick,” she said. You’ll also save the calories you might have otherwise consumed in an ice cream cone or piece of cake.
For others, especially those who crave snacks in between meals and graze a lot during the day, gum chewing could keep your mouth busy while providing few calories in between meals, Gans explained.
What these findings might suggest is that the effects of chewing gum may differ from person to person and may depend on one’s eating personality.
“If you’re someone who works from home and you find yourself wandering into the kitchen too many times, or if you keep visiting an office kitchen that’s packed with snacks, here chewing a piece of gum may help,” Gans said. “It’s putting something in your mouth, it’s keeping it busy, it has this great flavor in it, and you might be less likely to reach for food … or that piece of chocolate on your co-worker’s desk.”
But a piece of gum won’t necessarily replace an afternoon snack, especially if it has been a long time since you’ve eaten lunch. “A snack can help fuel you, especially during the afternoon slump. A piece of gum won’t provide that energy that’s needed … that you might get from a piece of string cheese and a piece of fruit, a handful of almonds or a yogurt,” Gans said.
1. Choose sugarless gum.
2. Limit gum to five or six pieces per day.
Though most people can tolerate sugar alcohols in small amounts, too much could lead to bloating and diarrhea, Planells explained.
Sugar alcohols go by names such as sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol, and they are not well absorbed, which explains why they provide fewer calories than sugar. But their poor absorption also explains their potential laxative effect when consumed in excess.
“We’re not suggesting that anyone should be chewing gum all day,” Gans said. If you would like to chew gum, she recommends a piece in the morning, another after lunch, perhaps another in between lunch and dinner, and maybe another after dinner.
3. Stick a pack of gum in your pocket, purse or briefcase.
This can help you pop a piece when you need it most.
4. If you don’t enjoy gum, there’s no need to start.
Other things can do the trick, such as a lightly sweetened coffee or tea with one teaspoon of sugar or a mini square of chocolate, Gans explained. “It signals the end of a meal without going overboard.” It might also be more satisfying than the gum, she added.