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Nutrition and Weight Control Special Report

7 Easy and Effective Weight-Loss Strategies

Dieting is a way of life for many people: Surveys consistently show that a large percentage of Americans are always on the lookout for new ways to lose and control their weight. Here is some sound weight-loss advice, courtesy of the latest crop of nutrition studies.

Weight Loss Strategy 1 -- Pack in the Protein
Studies show that protein keeps you full longer than carbohydrates. In one recent study of 30 overweight women, researchers compared two breakfasts with the same number of calories. One was an egg-based breakfast consisting of two scrambled eggs, two slices of toast, and 1 Tbsp of reduced-calorie fruit spread. The other, a bagel-based breakfast, consisted of a bagel, 2 Tbsp of cream cheese, and 3 oz of nonfat yogurt.

Participants who ate the protein-rich egg breakfast felt fuller, and they ate less food over the next 24-36 hours. It also takes more energy to metabolize protein than carbohydrates, so you burn more calories after eating it.

Weight Loss Strategy 2 -- Get a Full Night’s Sleep
A lack of sleep appears to have a direct effect on hunger and appetite. A recent study of 12 healthy, lean young men found that when the men slept for only four hours a night they produced less of the hormone leptin in the morning than when they slept for 10 hours. (Leptin helps you feel full.) The men also secreted more ghrelin when they didn’t get enough sleep. (Ghrelin stimulates appetite.) The potential result: A heavier body weight.

Weight Loss Strategy 3 -- Consume More Low-Fat Dairy Products
Studies are conflicting on the weight-loss benefits of low-fat dairy products. However, eating more dairy products in conjunction with cutting calories may help you lose weight around your middle, the so-called abdominal fat that is unhealthy for your heart.

In a study funded by the makers of Yoplait yogurt, 18 obese men and women who went on a three-month, reduced-calorie diet containing three daily servings of fat-free yogurt lost 15 lbs and 81% more abdominal fat than the 16 dieters who ate only one serving of dairy products daily and lost 11 lbs. The frequent yogurt-eaters also maintained more lean muscle mass, which is usually lost along with fat tissue when dieting.

Weight Loss Strategy 4 -- Boost Your Fiber Intake
Research shows that increasing the amount of fiber in your diet can decrease hunger and increase satiety. Fiber does this by keeping food in your stomach longer.

Weight Loss Strategy 5 -- Weigh Yourself at Least Once a Week
Regular weigh-ins are a mainstay of weight-loss programs such as Weight Watchers, and research shows that this tactic works for both weight loss and prevention of weight regain.

Why do weekly weigh-ins work? They provide valuable and motivating feedback on your weight-loss efforts, and they can help catch weight regain early, so you can get back on track before you really start packing on the pounds.

Weight Loss Strategy 6 -- Use Smaller Plates and Smaller Utensils
Perceptions of normal portion sizes have ballooned over the past 20 years -- increasing by 20-40% and adding substantial calories to our daily totals. But here’s a way to combat this trend: Try using smaller plates and utensils.

In one study, 85 people invited to an ice cream social received a 17- or 34-oz bowl and a 2- or 3-oz ice cream scoop upon their arrival. Participants given the large bowl and large scoop served themselves -- and ate -- a whopping 60% more ice cream than those given the small bowl and small spoon.

Weight Loss Strategy 7 -- Combine Smaller Portions With Low Energy Density
Eating from a smaller bowl or plate is not the only way to fool yourself into eating fewer calories. Choosing less energy-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, soups, and salads can help, too.

If you’re not convinced, consider the results of this study of 24 young women. For two days straight over a four-week period, the women were offered meals that varied in portion size and energy density. They were allowed to eat as much or as little as they wanted. When the meals were 25% lower in energy density, the women ate 24% fewer calories, which translated to 575 fewer calories a day. Offering smaller portion sizes (75% of the usual size) also reduced calorie intake but only by 230 calories a day. Put these two tactics together, and you could save 800 calories a day!

Posted in Nutrition and Weight Control on May 12, 2010

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