New scientific studies reveal three effective weight loss strategies

With the huge amount of research invested into diet and weight loss, it's easy to become overwhelmed with trying to match your attitudes and diets to what publications seem to suggest. With that in mind, here are three suggestions from papers presented at this year's Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. It turns out that what you eat is only one part of a successful weight loss program.

For one, make sure you're getting enough sleep. Researchers from German Universities Tubingen and Lubeck and Uppsala University in Sweden looked into the effects of sleep deprivation on appetite. They found that people who were sleep deprived felt more hungry, had higher levels of the "hunger hormone" ghrelin, were less active, and burned fewer calories while at rest. And that's all after only a single night's disrupted sleep. It's not clear if sleeping more than usual is any help, but it seems that a decent night's sleep will help control your appetite.

A team from Arizona State University showed the advantage to eating lots of little things instead of one big one — so it's time to hit the tapas bar. With all things being calorically equal, the study showed that both humans and animals find multiple pieces of food more satiating and rewarding than one big one. With rats they showed the animals preferred a meal of thirty 10mg food pellets over one 300mg pellet. Likewise, humans given a bagel and then a meal were liable to eat less when the bagel was cut into quarters first.

Finally, it seems we subliminally take a lot of hints about what we should chose to eat. Researcher Esther K. Papies of Utrecht University in the Netherlands looked into what are called "priming methods", subtle goal reminders to help you along the way. Placing a dieting recipe on a butcher's door, emphasizing healthy options on a menu, or handing out healthy recipe flyers at a grocery store, caused purchasers to choose fewer unhealthy options. The subjects claimed not to have paid any attention to the additions, but the changes were seen in grocery baskets.

So, sleep well, eat lots of small bites, and surround yourself with healthy messages. Sounds like remarkably simple advice.

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