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Nutrition

Being surrounded by the smell of fattening foods could help fight cravings

Researchers discovered exactly how long consumers should be taking a whiff of their favorite foods

With the start of the new year, many consumers take the time to rededicate themselves to following a health diet. However well-intentioned these plans are, there’s always the temptation to swap a salad for a cheeseburger.

To help combat fattening food cravings, researchers from the University of South Florida recently conducted a study that found that surrounding yourself with the smells of fattening foods for at least two minutes is a great way for consumers to steer cl...

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    When dining out, pay attention to calories

    Here are some tips for avoiding extra, and unhealthy pounds

    Nutritionists will tell you that there is more to weight control than counting calories. But it can't be denied that piling up the calories will usually lead to packing on some extra pounds.

    When you prepare meals at home you can take steps to minimize extra calories and increase awareness of the ingredients that go into your food. When you dine out at restaurants, it's not as easy.

    That requires some discretion when you order from the menu, avoiding dishes that, just from the descriptions, you know are packed with extra calories. In its latest release of the Xtreme Eating Awards, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) highlights a few dishes in particular that may be very tasty, but are high in calories.

    The group singles out chain restaurants for top honors, saying some dishes have twice the calories a person should consume in a single day. You'll find the full list of this year's "honorees" here.

    Pancakes as a side dish

    “Leave it to America’s chain restaurant industry to market a stack of pancakes as a side dish, or to lard up quesadillas and pasta with pizza toppings, or to ruin a perfectly good sweet potato,” said CSPI senior nutritionist Lindsay Moyer. “These meals are extreme, but even the typical dishes served at restaurants are a threat to Americans’ health because they increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more.”

    But the experts at Fitness Magazine say it is possible to dine out without going overboard on calories. It starts with arriving at the restaurant without a huge appetite. If you're famished, chances are you'll fill up on bread before the food arrives.

    Go easy on the wine. There's about 100 calories in each glass. That goes for cocktails too.

    Look closely at dishes labeled "light." They may qualify because they are low in carbs, but may still have lots of calories.

    Portion control

    Portion control is a big factor. Restaurants like to serve huge portions of food because they believe that's what their customers want. But no one needs to eat that much food. Just eat some of it and take the rest home. It might feed you for several days.

    Several months from now it will be easier to keep tabs on calories when dining out, as the Food and Drug Administration's final menu labeling rule takes effect in May 2018. That rule will require restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie information on menus and menu boards. Many fast food restaurants have already taken that step.

    The rule has been expanded to include supermarkets, but last week the House Energy & Commerce Committee approved a bipartisan bill to give grocery stores added flexibility.

    The Food Marketing Institute pushed for the bill, saying the FDA rule did not take into account the variety of foods and formats found in grocery stores.

    Nutritionists will tell you that there is more to weight control than counting calories. But it can't be denied that piling up the calories will usually le...

    Why the alternate-day fasting diet might not be right for you

    Researchers say the diet does not guarantee better results and may be harder to follow

    If you’re a consumer who struggles with obesity or being overweight, then one of the first suggestions you’re likely to hear is that you should restrict the number of calories you consume each day. However, this can be a major test of willpower for some, and different fad diets have tried to come up with ways that allow consumers to lose weight while letting them eat what they want.

    One of the newest strategies is called alternate-day fasting, where consumers are encouraged to eat whatever they want on one day and follow it up with a day of fasting where they only consume up to 25% of their usual calorie intake. This approach has increased in popularity and has even made its way into several diet books, with proponents calling it a superior way to lose weight. But does it work?

    Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago set out to answer that question and found that the diet might not be all it’s cracked up to be. After conducting a one-year randomized clinical trial, they found that participants who followed an alternate-day fasting diet did not experience any additional weight loss when compared to those who dieted normally.

    "The results of this randomized clinical trial demonstrated that alternate-day fasting did not produce superior adherence, weight loss, weight maintenance or improvements in risk indicators for cardiovascular disease compared with daily calorie restriction," the researchers said.

    Trouble sticking to the diet

    The study included 100 obese participants between the ages of 18 and 64 that were assigned to one of three groups for one year. One group followed an alternate-day fasting diet where participants consumed only 25% of their calorie needs on “fast” days and 125% of calorie needs on “feast” days; one group restricted their calorie intake to 75% of their caloric needs every day; and one group was given no intervention.

    At the beginning of the experiment, the researchers expected that those following an alternate-day fasting diet would be able to adhere to their diet more easily, achieve greater weight loss, and reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease. However, the end results showed that these participants had the most trouble following their diet plan.

    “Participants in the alternate-day fasting group ate more than prescribed on fast days, and less than prescribed on feast days, while those in the daily calorie restriction group generally met their prescribed energy goals,” the researchers said.

    Not “superior”

    In addition to not losing any more weight than participants in the calorie restriction group, the researchers found that those in the alternate-day fasting group were more likely to drop out of the study.

    “Alternate-day fasting has been promoted as a potentially superior alternative to daily calorie restriction under the assumption that it is easier to restrict calories every other day. However, our data from food records. . . indicate that this assumption is not the case. Rather, it appears as though many participants in the alternate-day fasting group converted their diet into de facto calorie restriction as the trial progressed,” the researchers said.

    “Moreover, the dropout rate in the alternate-day fasting group (38%) was higher than that in the daily calorie restriction group (29%) and the control group (26%). It was also shown that more participants in the alternate-day fasting group withdrew owing to dissatisfaction with diet compared with those in the daily calorie restriction group. Taken together, these findings suggest that alternate-day fasting may be less sustainable in the long term, compared with daily calorie restriction, for most obese individuals.”

    The researchers point out that some individuals may still prefer alternate-day fasting over more conventional dieting techniques, but their study does put into question whether or not this new technique truly is “superior.”

    The full study has been published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

    If you’re a consumer who struggles with obesity or being overweight, then one of the first suggestions you’re likely to hear is that you should restrict th...