Plan your lunch at breakfast time and lose weight!
The secret to cutting calories could be to plan your meals in advance and order lunch immediately after breakfast, a new study has revealed.
Experts have suggested that if a dieter wants to decrease their calorie intake and ultimately make healthier food choices, then they should plan their meal up to 60 minutes before they want to eat it.
Waiting for just an hour and not buying impulsively can cut almost 40 calories from our intake. But the real secret appears to be deciding on lunch at breakfast time: if you plan your midday meal at 7am, you're likely knock 240 calories off your lunchtime tally. That’s equivalent to a Dairy Milk chocolate bar or the amount of calories burnt off in a two-mile walk.
Dr Eric VanEpps and his team in the US conducted three studies involving nearly 700 office workers and nearly 200 university students, all of whom bought their lunch from an on-site canteen.
Each experiment looked at what food the participants chose, how many calories it had and how their decisions were affected by waiting times. Researchers analysed over 1,000 orders with waiting times varying from five or more hours to no wait at all.
The earliest orders were placed at 7am and the findings show that each hour between ordering and consuming led to 38 fewer calories being being consumed at the lunch, the Journal of Marketing Research reports.
Across all three experiments, the researchers noted that higher calorie meals were ordered when the waiting time was short. Those who planned their lunch also ordered healthier options by choosing smaller drinks, said the team at the University of Pennsylvania.
Regardless of whether participants ate breakfast or not, when asked, they thought they made the same choices, and said their meal satisfaction didn’t differ between advanced ordering and impulse buying.
Experts say their findings could have significant implications for people suffering from obesity and that, in the future, restaurants should allow customers to order in advance through the use of apps. You could also try to prepare your meals in advance, bringing in healthy choices from home (see Amelia Freer's recipes, above).
Researcher Dr Eric VanEpps, of the Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, said: “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 the results suggest that by ordering meals in advance, the likelihood of making indulgent purchases is drastically reduced.
"The implication is that restaurants and other food providers can generate health benefits for their customers by offering the opportunity to place advance orders."