Does Your Stomach Shrink When You Lose Weight?

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The stomach muscle is very elastic in quality, thanks to a series of ridges along its interior surface wall called rugae. These expandable folds allow your stomach to expand and contract in order to meet the demands of your food intake. The size of the stomach, therefore, is variable, and is not so much linked to your weight as to your eating habits.

woman losing weight
woman losing weight (Image: shironosov/iStock/Getty Images)

Normal Size Stomach

When it’s empty, the stomach is normally about the size of your closed fist. But because this organ has the ability to stretch, the more you eat the more enlarged your stomach becomes in order to suit the volume of its contents. It shrinks back to its normal size through the natural course of digestion as food contents move out of the stomach and into the duodenum, and then on to the small intestine.

woman with appetite
woman with appetite (Image: orelphoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Shrinking the Stomach

It's not possible to physically shrink the stomach beyond its normal size without surgery. It is, however, possible to feel full eating less food--which is generally the aim in wanting a smaller stomach. The way to accomplish this effect is to train your body to get used to accommodating smaller meals. Your stomach will adjust to proportions suitable for the needs of the average quantity of food you’re used to taking in, in a single serving. Over time, eating smaller-portioned meals reduces the size your stomach is accustomed to inflating during mealtime.

small portion of dessert
small portion of dessert (Image: jakkapop_dusiyamee/iStock/Getty Images)

Hunger Pangs

Training the body to get in the habit of accommodating smaller (and perhaps more frequent) meals doesn't happen overnight. As with weight loss, this is a gradual process that can't safely be quickened by starving one's self. Reducing your meal portions too much, too quickly only triggers hunger pangs because your body is a creature of habit. Your body gets used to your eating routine. It’s best to adjust this routine by increments. Eat a meal portion that's just a little bit less than what you’re used to. After giving your body time to adjust to this new norm, you can move to cut your meal portion a little more. This will curb your hunger pangs.

woman eatinf small salad
woman eatinf small salad (Image: Jacob Wackerhausen/iStock/Getty Images)

Losing Weight

Gradually reducing your meal portions won't necessarily cause you to lose weight. Unless you also decrease your calorie intake to a level where you’re burning a bit more energy than you are consuming, you won't experience weight loss. Theoretically, eating smaller meals should mean fewer calories. But this is not always the case. It depends on the kind of foods in your diet. Your nutritional choices are a significant factor in weight loss.

woman on scale
woman on scale (Image: Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images)

The Fiber Benefit

Foods with high fiber content have the benefit of making you feel full faster, and they usually contain fewer calories per serving than less fiber-rich foods. If you follow a system of slowly reducing your meal portions while also choosing to eat foods that allow you to feel full on fewer calories, you will curb your appetite as you lose weight.

woman eating fiber cereal
woman eating fiber cereal (Image: Goodluz/iStock/Getty Images)

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