When you think of losing weight, the biggest mistake most fitness enthusiasts make is to restrict certain foods and eat less. But a new study by Penn State University suggests that the most potent weight loss trick is to eat more of your favorite healthy foods, instead of reducing portion sizes. A previous study had also shown that people often overeat processed, junk food, such as biscuits and snacks, and end up suffering from malnutrition and obesity.
The study done on 100 women experimented with meals consisting of seven foods with different calorie loads, and varied portion sizes each week. The researchers found that people usually ate more when their plates contained more food, irrespective of the type of food, said lead study author Faris Zuraikat, a graduate student in Penn State’s department of nutritional sciences, to Men’s Health.
“Research finds that people have a tendency to eat a very consistent weight or volume of food, more so than managing calorie intake. It’s really hard to recognise subtle differences in portion sizes,” says Barbara Rolls, study co-author of the study and author of The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet.
UshaKiran Sisodia, Head dietician and nutritionist, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai, agrees with the study findings. “By eating more of lower-calorie dense foods and less of higher-calorie dense foods, you can lose weight,” she says, adding, “Our mind is smart in taking commands. When we say ‘I need to eat less than before’, our brain automatically gives the command and goes into reserve mode by adjusting the expenditure of calories. As a result, Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) slows down.”
Nutritionist Karishma Chawla of Eat Rite 24×7 finds the ‘eat more’ message itself to be enticing for people as it doesn’t make you feel deprived. “The trick lies in eating more of low calorie foods along with a controlled portion of moderate calorific foods,” she says.
Sisodia and Chawla suggest simple diet swaps for weight conscious people:
*Swap lassi with curd.
*Opt for boiled or steamed vegetables instead of mayonnaise-doused vegetables or deep-fried foods.
* Have dates instead of traditional sweets
* Try a bowl of sprouts bhel (rich in fiber and more satiating) rather than a bowl of puffed rice bhel (low in fiber which is easily absorbed and digested).
* Opt for skimmed milk/paneer over whole milk/paneer, grilled chicken/fish over fried chicken/fish.
* Try salads with low-fat yogurt, lime, vinegar, spices, leaves and fruits as dressing, overdressing made of oil and mayonnaise.