Here’s a New Way to Cut 100 Calories from a Meal, Says Study

Best time to plan your next meal is when you are not hungry shows study

Looking for a new trick to help you with your diet? Here’s one simple trick a study found that resulted in test subjects eating fewer calories at mealtime.

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According to a news release from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, if you want to cut calories one way is to preorder your meals ahead of time by at least one hour.

This advice is based on the results of a new study published in the Journal of Marketing Research where researchers found that by preordering your meals you are avoiding unhealthy impulse purchases during your mealtime. In some cases, that preordering can result in eating 100 calories fewer per meal.

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“Our results show that ordering meals when you’re already hungry and ready to eat leads to an overall increase in the number of calories ordered, and suggest that by ordering meals in advance, the likelihood of making indulgent purchases is drastically reduced,” said lead author Eric M. VanEpps, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, who conducted the studies while a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon. “The implication is that restaurants and other food providers can generate health benefits for their customers by offering the opportunity to place advance orders.”

The data was gleaned from three studies in which participants were randomly selected with instructions to order their meals at various time frames before consuming their meals.

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What the data showed was that for every hour of delay between placing an order and eating the meal, the calorie count decreased by approximately 38 calories. The biggest difference was seen in comparing advanced orders with on-the-spot orders with advanced orders typically being about 100 calories fewer than those ordered at lunchtime.

“These findings provide one more piece of evidence that decisions made in the heat of the moment are not as far-sighted as those made in advance,” said George Loewenstein, PhD, the Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology at Carnegie Mellon, and senior author on the study. “For example, people who plan to practice safe sex often fail to do so when caught up in the act, and people who, in dispassionate moments, recognize the stupidity of road rage nevertheless regularly succumb to it. Unfortunately, pre-commitment strategies are more feasible when it comes to diet than to many other ‘hot’ behaviors.”

The researchers note that longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether eating fewer calories by ordering a meal ahead of time does not become offset by increased hunger and resultant snacking to make up for the lower calorie count. In addition, the study’s results may have been skewed due to the meals were either discounted or provided for free. Paying full-price for the meals could have an effect on the test subjects’ behavior and therefore begs further investigation.

For more about tricks on how to consume fewer calories, here’s some Dr. Oz Tricks on How to Eat Pizza and Still Cut Calories.

Reference: Penn Medicine news release “Want to Cut Calories? New Studies Suggest Placing Orders Before It's Time to Eat

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