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Go Light on Lunch for Simple Weight Loss

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Weight loss can be intimidating. We don’t know where to begin -- do we count calories or cut carbs? Do we do cardio or strength training? Hire a trainer or grab a workout buddy? Do we skip meals or eat more frequent, smaller-sized meals?
With all the options, miracle plans and liquid diets, it would be nice if someone could simplify the process for us.

Thankfully, researchers from Cornell University have.

A sample of 17 volunteers were closely monitored over the course of a five-week diet study. Across the board, it was found that participants lost weight if they simply ate a portion-controlled lunch.

Their food consumption or exercise was not altered in any way otherwise. They were free to eat as much as they chose throughout the rest of the course of the day.

The scientists say that this is an easy solution to weight loss that won’t leave you hungrier than usual or in need of snacks because while our bodies are amazing and very intelligent machines, they’re not quite sophisticated enough to notice a small drop in calories, and thus won’t feel deprived in any way.

In the Cornell study, all 17 participants ate whatever they wanted from a buffet of lunchtime options for the first week. “For the next two weeks, half the group selected their lunch by choosing from one of six commercially available, portion-controlled foods, such as Chef Boyardee Pasta or Campbell's Soup at Hand, but could eat as much as they wished at other meals or snacks. For the final two weeks, the other half of volunteers followed the same regimen,” according to a release on the study.

Each group, when eating the portion-controlled lunches, consumed 250 calories less per day which resulted in weight loss of 1.1 pounds over the two week trial. It may not sound like much, but 250 calories fewer per day could result in losing 25 pounds a year according to the study’s authors.

“Making small reductions in energy intake to compensate for the increasing number of calories available in our food environment may help prevent further weight gain, and one way of doing this could be to consume portion-controlled lunches a few times a week,” co-author and graduate Carly Pacanowski said.

“To stop the increase in obesity, we are going to have to learn to consume fewer calories and here is one simple, low-cost way to do it,” lead author David A. Levitsky concluded.

While the release doesn’t tell us the starting weight of the participants, their exercise habits, age, whether they were male/female, etc., the Cornell University team’s findings are encouraging. Perhaps this is one small and simple way to shed unwanted pounds without having to make major lifestyle changes.

Whether or not they come up with more simple How-To weight loss tips remains to be seen.


Weight loss without the hunger: Cornell scientists say eat a lighter lunch. EurekAlert. Web. 30 Aug 2011.

Losing weight without dieting. Using commercial foods as meal replacements for lunch produces an extended energy deficit. Science Direct. Wed. 30 Aug 2011. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019566631100136X

Why eating a lighter lunch can help you lose weight WITHOUT making you hungry. Mail Online. Web 30 Aug 2011. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019566631100136X

Bailey Mosier is a freelance journalist living in Orlando, Florida. She received a Masters of Journalism from Arizona State University, played D-I golf, has been editor of a Scottsdale-based golf magazine and currently contributes to GolfChannel.com. She aims to live an active, healthy lifestyle full of sunshine and smiles.

Reviewed August 31, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith

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EmpowHER Guest

This is encouraging but just reducing your calorie intake doesn't give the best weight loss results and usually means that you are loosing muscle rather than body fat. To ensure you loose the right type of weight you should also include an exercise plan to any weight loss regime. www.e-slimmer.com/slimming-exercises discusses a variety of exercises to help get you slimmer and keep the weight off.

September 1, 2011 - 3:48am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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