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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 1, 2010

Latest studies shed light on losing weight


By Charles Stuart Platkin

New research in the areas of diet, fitness and nutrition is constantly being reported, and I often update my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/dietdetective) with current information. Sometimes, however, there are studies noteworthy enough to warrant special attention. Here are a few of the latest that will certainly help you to lose weight and stay fit.

1. Follow fewer rules to lose weight. Researchers from the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition in Germany found that if people think diet rules are too complicated meaning they find it difficult to remember what the rules are or if it's not clear what you're supposed to eat, they will likely quit the program. So: If you're trying to lose weight, make sure the rules are simple and fit your lifestyle.

2. Whole grains are important, but you may not eat less as a result. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, compared whole-grain breads and pasta to refined "white" pasta and "white" bread, and found that whole-grain foods increased the feeling of fullness compared with refined grains, but that did not affect subsequent eating behavior. So, when eating whole grains, don't expect to actually decrease your overall consumption. Whole grains are certainly healthier, but they're not necessarily a "diet" food. You still need to watch intake.

3. Is this a meal or a snack? Environmental and food cues can influence whether or not you believe you're eating a meal or a snack. Brian Wansink, from the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, found that having a meal consists of eating with your family for 30 minutes, sitting down and using ceramic plates and cloth napkins. People perceive snacks as low-cost, low-quality foods that come in small quantities and are packaged versus prepared. So what does all this mean? When eating "snacks," try to make them more formal. Use real plates, sit down and make your eating more of an experience. If you think you're having a mini-meal you'll be more likely to feel satisfied and eat less.

4. Planning meals increases food satisfaction. Researcher Jeff Brunstrom from the University of Bristol, England, believes that learning and/ or having prior experience to show that a meal will be satisfying helps to ensure that it actually is satisfying. Meaning, it's a good idea when you plan your meals to make sure you believe they will fill you up. My best advice is to experiment with different healthy meals to see which ones are most satisfying to you.

5. Eat too quickly? you're probably eating too much. According to a new study reported in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, eating a meal quickly curtails the release of hormones in the gut that induce feelings of fullness. And the decreased release of these hormones can often lead to overeating. Eat slowly!