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Ladies Who Lunch (Light) Weigh Less

Looking to cut calories? New research points to midday eating for best results.

| August 31st, 2011
Ladies Who Lunch (Light) Weigh Less

Sure, you’ve seen all those diet plans that advertise, “Eat as much as you want and still lose weight!” And according to the latest research—brace yourselves, folks—yes, those kinds of claims are still too good to be true.

However, the trick to shedding a few pounds could be easier than you think, provided you’re able to curb lunchtime pig-outs.

QUIZ: What is your eating style?

A new Cornell study conducted by professor of nutritional sciences and psychology David Levitsky and registered dietician and Ph.D. candidate Carly Pacanowski found that midday portion control made all the difference to those looking to win weight wars. Even more promising, during a five-week study, they found that dieters who restricted calories at lunch did not necessarily overcompensate at other meals. (They were allowed to eat as much as they wanted for breakfast and dinner.)

In other words, shaving a few calories off lunch didn't make them dive into extra food later in the day.

Over the 10 days subjects were made to practice lunchtime portion control, they ate 250 less calories per day and lost an average of 1.1 pounds, which would certainly add up over the course of a year to the tune of a 25-pound weight loss.

DISCUSS: Do you count calories?

In order to stick to the plan, Pacanowski points out that there are more satisfying alternatives to say, the ubiquitous liquid diet shake. “Commercially available pre-portioned products like soups (Campbell's Soup at Hand) or bars (Kashi Go Lean makes a variety) aren't marketed as 'meal replacements,' but can definitely serve as a lighter lunch,” she says. “The brand name is not so important—the key is finding a product that has fewer calories than the lunch typically consumed. For participants in the study, a lunch of 200-250 calories produced a deficit.”

MORE: Calorie listings on restaurant menus are not always accurate

And of course, you can do the same with foods you whip up at home by dividing them into small containers. Because portion size and calories vary, Pacanowski suggests visiting the United States Department of Agriculture's website.

Hey, think of it this way: Smaller portions at lunch not only means points off the scale, it also means you’ll save cash to buy, say, a new pair of skinny jeans.

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