Study: Lose 25 pounds this year with a lighter lunch

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Cornell University researchers suggest eating fewer calories at lunch could be a simple intervention for weight loss. Controlling food portion at lunchtime helped participants in a small study lose weight without feeling hungry.

Fewer lunch calories barely noticed by the body

The researchers say a small calorie reduction at lunch also keeps hunger at bay. The reason, they suspect , is because a small reduction in calorie intake isn’t noticed by the body.

Doctoral student Carly Pacanowski co-authored the study with David Levitsky, Cornell professor of nutritional sciences and of psychology.

According to Levitsky, “Over a year, such a regimen would result in losing at least 25 pounds."

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For the research, study participants ate whatever they chose from a buffet for one week.

During the next two weeks, participants ate whatever they chose throughout the day, but one-half of the group limited their lunch calories to portion controlled meals, choosing one of six commercially prepared foods, such as soup.

In the final two weeks, the other half of the group cut back on lunch calories.

The result was 250 fewer calories a day just by eating a lighter lunch. At the end of the study period, the participants lost an average of 1.1 pounds.

The authors suggest eating fewer calories at lunch is an easy an inexpensive way to lose weight that doesn’t require expensive liquid protein meal replacements. If you want to boost weight loss even more, increase your exercise activity to burn 250 extra calories a day. According to the study results, lightening up on lunch portions won’t lead to hunger and increased snacking.

Appetite: doi:10.1016/j.appet.2011.04.015
"Losing weight without dieting. Use of commercial foods as meal replacements for lunch produces an extended energy deficit"
David Levitsky, Carly Pakanowski
October 2011

Updated January 12, 2014