The best-kept secret of successful dieters

Published on Tue May 04 16:17:00 UTC 2010
Brierley Wright

It’s a question that I would venture to guess every dieter has asked...even those who successfully lose weight, and keep it off. What’s the secret to losing weight?

As a dietitian, I get this question all the time—and not just at work.

The boring truth is that to lose weight you have to eat fewer calories than you’re burning. (Slim down in 4 weeks with EatingWell’s delicious weight-loss meal plan.)

But there is a silver lining: dieting isn’t about depriving yourself of everything you love. (Calculate your daily calorie goal here. Plus find delicious recipes for 300-calorie breakfasts and 400-calorie lunches to keep you satisfied.)

At EatingWell, we truly believe that dieting can be delicious. (Case in point, here are 30 super-delicious low-cal dinners.) So when this new research came across my desk, I just had to include a piece on it by Ana Mantica in the new June issue of EatingWell magazine.

What is this super-sweet research? Drum roll, please...
It may be easier to stick to your diet if it includes a little sweet treat! Yes, you read that right. According to a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, banning sugary foods could lead to overeating. (Indulge a little with these 100-calorie recipes for Chocolate Brownie Bites and more yummy treats.)

OK, I realize this may not be all that new to you, but to see a scientific study that supports having a treat is, well, quite cool.

Here are the study highlights: Researchers fed one group of rats their regular diet for five days, followed by a high-sugar, chocolate-flavored food for two days, and compared them to another group of rats that ate only their usual diet. The researchers found that on the days the chocolate-food-eating rats ate the standard food, they ate less, but when they returned to eating the sugary stuff, they ate far more.

Here’s why, according to the researcher: One reason may be that removing access to sweet foods stimulates the release of a molecule in your brain called corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), produced when you’re afraid, anxious or stressed. And increased stress levels may lower your motivation to eat more nutritious foods, making it more likely that you’ll binge on junk food.

So the take-away message is: when you’re on a diet it’s OK to eat just a little bit of those foods you love every day. (Trying to curb your sugar intake? Try these sweet treats with surprisingly low added sugars.)

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