If you want to shed pounds, you know the best way to do it: healthy eating and exercise. That being said, we’ve learned about some pretty interesting—and, well, seriously strange—weight-loss tricks via research over the past year. Check them out…
Wheeling Jesuit University researchers had volunteers sniff the scent of peppermint oil every two hours for five days straight. At the end of the study, the volunteers reported feeling significantly lower levels of hunger, and they also took in 3,485 fewer calories over the course of the week than usual. One theory why peppermint works: The strong scent is distracting and so may keep your mind off of your appetite.
The color that makes you eat less is Red. That’s the conclusion from a new study published in the journal Appetite. For the study, researchers gave 240 participants snacks of popcorn and chocolate chips served on either red, white, or blue plates. And it turns out that those who munched popcorn or chocolate chips off of red plates ate less overall than those who ate the snacks off of white or blue.
Why? While previous studies have suggested that having a color contrast between your food and your dishes is key (presumably because it helps you be more mindful of each bite), this study suggests something else may be at play, too—after all, chocolate chips contrast with white plates more than they do with red ones. It may be that we associate the color red with stopping and caution (hello, stop signs and traffic lights), which subconsciously encourages us to eat less of anything served on dishes that are that color.
For the study, Cornell University researchers looked at 2,314 public school students who attended schools with either cash-only or debit card-only cafeterias. At schools that allowed cash purchases, 42 percent of students chose healthy items. But at the debit-only schools, just 31 percent of kids chose nutritious foods. What’s more, kids at cash-friendly schools bought 20 percent more fresh vegetables and less candy than kids at debit-only schools, and they ate an average of 31 fewer calories than their debit peers.
“When they have the debit card rather than the cash, we know that it causes them to think about it slightly differently,” says lead study author David Just, Ph.D., a professor at the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs. And in case you were wondering, kids definitely aren’t the only ones due for a debit detox. Studies have shown that credit-card-wielding adults spend more money on more frivolous things—pleasurable items higher in sugar, fat, and salt—than they do when they use cash.
This held true even when researchers considered other factors that could have influenced study participants’ fat levels and location, such as how often they worked out and how healthy their diets were overall.
Researchers writing in the journal Nutrition studied 1,458 adolescents up to age 17. Participants reported what they ate during two non consecutive days, and afterward, their weight, height, BMI, waist circumference, and skin fat levels were measured. The conclusion: Higher chocolate consumption was linked to lower levels of belly bulge.
Participants in the study (31 healthy people) slept in either a 75-degree room or a 66-degree room. Researchers found that the colder sleepers burned more than 7 percent more calories than the warm sleepers—likely because their bodies were working to raise their core body temperature to a stable 98.6 degrees, says study author Francesco Saverio Celi, MD, MHSc, of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.
Researchers split 69 women (some dieting and some not) into two groups: They gave the first group pictures of low-cal foods to look at (mainly fruits and diet products). The second group got pictures that resembled the food photos but weren’t actually food—like a bright yellow sun instead of a grapefruit. Then, they gave both groups snacks to munch on. What happened? The non-dieters ate the same amount of snacks regardless of which photos they saw beforehand. But the dieters who saw pictures of low-cal food ate less than those who looked at pics of non-food objects.
The reason this happened, theorize the researchers, is that the pictures act as a subtle visual reminder of the dieters’ weight-loss goals. To get a similar effect, researchers suggest sticking pictures of low-cal, good-for-you foods on your fridge or on your cupboards. That way, you’ll see them before you choose what to eat and may end up consuming fewer calories without even thinking about it. Another option: Make the background on your phone a picture of a low-cal food. Since you probably look at your phone every, oh, two seconds, chances are you’ll see it before you reach for any candy or cookies—so you’ll be subtly reminded to eat less.
People in disorganized workspaces are more likely to choose unhealthy snacks, according to a new study out of the University of Minnesota.
Researchers wanted to know how people are affected by the orderliness (or lack thereof) of their workspaces, so they randomly assigned 34 Dutch students to either a neat office or a messy one. Researchers went on to test participants in multiple ways, one of which involved offering participants the option to take either an apple or a chocolate bar on the way out.
Of the participants who decided to take a snack, 67 percent who had been in the tidy room picked an apple, whereas 80 percent who had been in the untidy room chose chocolate.
Why do people tend to make healthier choices when their offices are neater? Organized workspaces encourage people to make conventionally good decisions, according to researchers.