We’ve all heard the ‘old wives’ tales’ about how cutting kilojoules will cause your appetite to reset. That eventually, your stomach will actually shrink, so tinier portions will fill you up.
Ok, yes, your stomach does shrink… temporarily
If it sounds like a bit of a stretch, that’s because it kind of is, according to experts. Yes, your stomach does boast rubber band-like properties that allow it to change size. This elasticity makes it easier to get your feast on when presented with an epic spread, and it also helps us avoid starving in times of famine. (Something most modern humans don’t have to worry about. But back in our cave-people days, it was rather useful.)
As for shrinking? Your stomach can quickly snap back to normal size after a huge meal. But, FYI, it’s not going to continue to get smaller—even if you start eating less.
How the stomach really works
Think about it, if eating less was all it took to shrink the size of your stomach, it would follow that normal-weight people have smaller food pouches than people who are overweight or obese. But it’s not true, according to findings published in the journal Gastroenterology. Everyone’s stomach is pretty much the same size, regardless of how much they weigh.
If you’re still not convinced, consider this: Your body was designed to take in enough kilojoules to keep it going, even during times when there’s no food to be had. So you better believe that it’s not going to make your stomach smaller when you start rationing portions.
Shrink your portions
Let’s face it, most of us tend to feel hungrier when we slash our kilojoule intake (your body thinks it’s starving). Your system gets flooded with the hunger hormone ghrelin, making food even harder to resist. At the same time, your body temperature and metabolic rate slow down in an attempt to conserve precious energy.
It’s the science-y way of basically saying: Drastically cutting your portions not only won’t shrink your stomach—it’ll probably backfire. And if you actually managed to drop weight, you’ll probably just regain it and then some.
Losing weight is not impossible, and research has found that your body can adjust to less food and register fullness from it, over time. But in order to do it (and be successful), you need to cut back on food slowly—so your body doesn’t suddenly freak out and think that it’s starving. That means instead of embarking on a crash diet, try cutting back by just 418 or 836 kilojoules a day. It’s enough to help you lose weight slowly and sustainably, but not so much that your body mistakenly thinks that you’re depriving it of nourishment.