Scientists from Cornell University in New York have found that eating lighter lunches a few times a week could be an easy way of cutting down on calories without feeling it.
A team, led by Professor David Levitsky, devised a five-week eating study, where the food intake of paid volunteers was measured Mondays to Fridays.
For the first week, the group ate whatever they wanted from a buffet. For the next two weeks, half the group selected their lunch by choosing one of six shop-bought portion-controlled foods, such as Campbell's Soup at Hand, as a substitute for the lunch.
However, they could eat as much as they wished at other meals or have snacks.
For the final two weeks, the other half of the volunteers followed the same portion-controlled plan.
The scientists found that over the 10 days of consuming a portion-controlled lunch, the 17 participants had 250 fewer calories per day than usual and lost, on average, 1.1 pounds.
"The results confirm that humans do not regulate energy intake with any precision. Over a year, such a regiment would result in losing at least 25 pounds," The Daily Mail quoted Prof Levitsky as saying.
The study suggests that both high-protein and high-fibre meal replacements result in weight loss not by suppressing appetite, but by providing fewer calories.
As humans do not possess accurate mechanisms to compensate for the smaller intake at a previous meal, they end up taking in fewer calories.
"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," said co-author and graduate Carly Pacanowski.
The study will be published in the October issue of the journal Appetite. (ANI)