Want to drop a few pounds? Eat a light lunch

If you want to lose weight without a radical diet overhaul, look to your lunch hour. New research shows that opting for a light lunch can stave off hunger pangs while helping you lose 25 pounds (around 11 kilos) in a year. The rest of the day? Eat normally.

Researchers at Cornell University in the US monitored the daily diets of 17 volunteers. For the first week of the study, participants ate from a buffet for their meals and snacks, while researchers tallied up calories consumed. The next two weeks, half the group was asked to pick from one of six pre-packaged portion-controlled foods, such as soups or pasta meals, but could eat whatever they wanted from the buffet the rest of the day. The remainder of the participants continued eating whatever they wished from the buffet.

The volunteers who ate portion-controlled lunches consumed 250 fewer calories per day, losing an average of 1.1 pounds (about half a kilo) over the course of two weeks.

What's interesting is that the subjects didn't make up for the reduced calories from their portion-controlled lunches at other snack and meal times, and were able to almost sneak in small caloric reductions without the body noticing, the researchers said.

The Cornell scientists stated that in an age of abundant food choices, "making small reductions in energy intake" could help keep your waistline trim. One way of controlling your weight could be to simply eat a portion-controlled lunch a few times a week, they added.

The research will be published in the October issue of the journal Appetite.

In May, researchers at the University of Missouri in the US also found that tucking into a high-protein breakfast increases satiety and reduces hunger throughout the day.

MRI images showed that a protein-packed breakfast reduced the brain signals controlling food motivation and reward-driven behavior.

That study, published in the journal Obesity, suggested that incorporating a protein-rich breakfast could be a simple strategy for people to stay satisfied longer and prevent snacking.

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