Cape Argus (South Africa)
We all know "eat a bit less, exercise a bit more" is the key to weight loss, but there are many other factors at play that are only now being discovered by scientists.
Last month US researchers revealed how morning sunshine can help us to slim. They found that people who had most of their daily exposure to moderately bright light in the morning had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who had most of their light exposure later in the day.
This is because light sets our body clocks, which in turn control metabolism. When our body clocks are synchronised with the day we feel less hungry and our bodies use energy more efficiently, says the study author
But that's not the only unexpected way you can shed the kilos. Here are another 15 surprising slimming strategies.
1 Many of us eat out of habit, particularly when we are distracted by something else, such as television.
But doing something to break that habit, such as eating with the "wrong" hand (the left hand for right-handers and vice versa) can make a difference, say researchers from the
The study of moviegoers, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that people ate only half as much popcorn if they were asked to eat it with their other hand.
2Chillies can be hot stuff for losing weight, since they rev up your body's metabolism, making it burn more fat.
A month-long study of 78 people in the
His research shows that the heat may reduce the appetite - and he found that a teaspoonful of pepper (capsicum) before meals reduced the amount people ate.
3There seems to be a similar benefit with olive oil. Fatty acids in it can make your body burn food faster, according to a study by dietitians at
4Restaurants, with all their clanging noises, make us want to eat sweeter and saltier foods, according to research in the journal Food Quality and Preference.
Our nervous systems are wired to respond to loud noise with a faster heartbeat and higher blood pressure, so that we are ready to flee from danger.
In noisy restaurants we respond by eating faster and drinking more alcohol, says research by Dr
5Clenching your fists for half a minute can halt temptation when you have a food craving, reported the
6Apple peel contains ursolic acid, which increases muscle and levels of brown fat (found in the neck and between the shoulder blades).
Both of these boost the rate at which our bodies burn calories.
7Eating a breakfast that includes a sweet dessert may help you to lose weight, say researchers from
Their study, published in 2012, found that dieters who followed this regimen lost more weight over eight months than those on the same calories but who had a smaller, low-carb breakfast.
The key is to indulge in the morning, when the metabolism is at its most active and we can work off the extra calories.
8Our appetite is partly governed by a mechanism called sensory specific satiety. Basically, we feel fuller if we're eating only one food.
It is like eating a plate of meat and thinking you'd burst with one more forkful - then pudding arrives and you can eat it.
9Use tall, thin glasses for calorie-laden drinks such as alcohol and fruit juice, and squat glassware for healthy, calorie-free water.
A study published last year in the journal Substance Use and Misuse found we tend to pour at least 10 percent more wine into a wide glass than a standard one. "People have trouble assessing volumes," says
"People tend to drink less from a narrow glass, because they think they're drinking more."
Red wine can make a difference because we notice it more. Participants in the study poured 9 percent more white wine into a clear glass than when pouring red.
10Thinking ahead can help you to avoid eating junk food. Scans show that hungry brains release hormones that make us crave high-fat, high-sugar foods.
11Your mother was right to tell you to chew each mouthful. A Japanese study of 4 700 people found fast eaters weigh on average 10kg more than slow chewers.
Thirty women were given a large plate of pasta and when told to eat quickly they consumed 646 calories in nine minutes. When encouraged to pause between bites and chew each mouthful 15 to 20 times, they ate just 579 calories in 29 minutes.
The slow eaters said they enjoyed their food more.
12Bigger forks can mean slimmer tummies. So says a 2011 study, which found that taking larger bites can lead to us eating less.
The reason, according to the
13Our idea of "normal" weight depends on the size of those around us. A long-term study in the US revealed that if someone has a friend of the same sex who becomes fat, their risk of being overweight doubles.
Being influenced by those around us in this way is called "social contagion". Research in the journal Obesity says it explains overweight families.
14Use olive oil instead of butter on bread and you will eat 16 percent fewer calories and drop your bread consumption by a quarter, according to a study published in the
It is thought that olive oil stimulates taste receptors more powerfully than butter, making people feel fuller quicker.
15Insufficient sleep knocks our appetite hormones out of kilter.
Levels of leptin, which tells the brain the stomach is full, fell by 18 percent. They began to crave high-carb foods. -
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