It's often thought that portion control is the key to weight management, but new research suggests it's not how much you eat, but what you eat that could be the real key to dieting success.
Faris Zuraikat, a graduate student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, led the research following-up to a previous study that trained participants to gain control over their portions through certain techniques.
In the new trial, researchers wanted to see if people who had previously been trained to manage their portions would respond differently to increased food sizes in comparison to untrained people, reports News.com.au.
To find out, researchers tested three groups of women — group one were women who were overweight and had not participated in the previous study, group two were the healthy "control" group, and group three consisted of overweight or obese women who had taken part in the previous portion-control trial.
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During the study, each woman was served the same food once a week for four weeks, but the size of their food increased in a random order. Additionally, the calorie content of the food served also varied, ranging from high calorie, such as garlic bread, to low calorie options, for example, salads.
The study found that when given bigger portions all women ate more food. However, those who had been trained in portion control consumed fewer calories than the untrained subjects.
"All the groups were served the same meals, but their food choices differed," explains the study's lead author. "The participants who went through the training consumed more of the lower calorie-dense foods and less of the higher calorie-dense foods than the untrained controls."
"Consequently, trained participants' calorie intake was less than that of the control groups, whose intake didn't differ by weight status."
The results show that choosing healthy, lower-calorie-dense foods was more effective and more sustainable than just trying to resist large portions of higher calorie options," Zuraikat goes on.
"If you choose high-calorie-dense foods but restrict the amount that you're eating, portions will be too small, and you're likely to get hungry."