When it comes to losing weight, a lot of the emphasis is put on how to make any food taste great — even if it’s not necessarily what comes to mind when you think about what’s delicious. It makes sense: You’re more likely to stick to a diet change if you aren’t dreading it, right? However, research has found as time has gone on that good-tasting food isn’t the only thing that can aid in weight loss; food texture matters as well.
This means it’s a good idea to mix up what’s called the “mouthfeel” of the food you’re eating, like eating a combination of foods that are soft, hard, smooth and crunchy. However, not all textures are created equal when it comes to weight loss.
A popular study that came out a few years ago in the Journal of Consumer Research had participants eat brownies (yum!) of different textures. The team found that people tended to think that softer, smoother foods had a higher number of calories versus harder, crunchier foods. In other words, people believed these hard, crunchy samples were somehow “healthier,” regardless of if they actually were. While scientists are still piecing together the psychology of food texture, there may be a connection between the fact that a number of the healthiest foods we can eat, like many fruits and veggies, often have a crunchy component, and we begin to mentally categorize all foods like that.
But this research is just the tip of the iceberg. Building on that, a recent 2020 overview looking at 29 different weight loss studies also surmised that food texture may be why liquid fasts and similar diets where you eat foods that “feel” the same are harder to stick to. Not only do they have some calorie deficits, which deplete your energy, but your body also gets bored from eating the foods with the same mouthfeel, even if the dishes themselves taste very different.
Overall, scientists found that foods that had more texture — i.e. were harder, crunchier, thicker, or rougher — led to greater appetite suppression and reduced food intake in the long run, which could positively impact weight loss.
In other words, does your diet have enough crunch factor? If you’re looking for a way to change up what you’re eating, that may be a great place to start. Also, is there a nice mix of softer foods versus harder ones, smoother dishes versus crunchier ones, and thicker beverages versus thinner ones? Making some tweaks and mixing it up based on food texture could help you see better results.