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Romantic Dinners Cut Calorie Intake, Study Shows

Romantic Dinners Cut Calorie Intake, Study Shows

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One of the many reasons to splurge on a romantic dinner for two

Sure, we may blame fast food in general for the obesity epidemic, but it turns out just by classing up their act, even fast-food restaurants could cut how many calories their guests eat.

Researchers from Cornell University discovered that when they transformed a Hardee's restaurant with softer music and lighting, customers ate 18 percent fewer calories.

"When we softened the lights and softened the music in the restaurant it didn't change what people ordered, but what it did do was lead them to eat less and made them more satisfied and happier," researcher Brian Wansink told Reuters.

The team added plants, paintings, indirect lights, tablecloths, candles, and instrumental music to half the restaurant, calculating how much time customers spent eating and how much they ate. The results, published in Psychological Reports, found that people ate slower in the transformed setting, which is decidedly more romantic.

"Spending that extra time eating a little more slowly at a more relaxed pace made a world of difference, not just to how much they ate but how much they liked it," Wansink said. Naturally, this doesn't mean every meal has to be at a date night hot spot; we recommend having candlelit dinners every night of the week in your own home. Because, why not?

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Breakfast: Eggs

Egg sandwich
Eat this: Scrambled eggs with veggies

The body benefit: Filled with fiber, veggies will give you a longer-lasting energy boost than the empty carbs in a breakfast sandwich. Plus, a generous helping of tomato, mushroom, or spinach in your eggs is a flavorful way to sneak in at least one of your five-a-day. Two large eggs scrambled with a half-cup of spinach comes in at 150 calories, a far cry from the 290 calories you'll find in a Dunkin' Donuts Bacon, Egg, and Cheese English muffin sandwich.

50 Flavorful and Filling Low-Calorie Meals

Makeover some of your favorites, from pizza to pad thai.

Whether you're practicing moderation or simply looking to indulge in guilt-free seconds, these dinner recipes are the best of both worlds &mdash low in calories and delicious. Sticking to a healthy weeknight dinner that fits into a diet plan can be quite easy, on both your schedule and your wallet. The best low-calorie meals supercharge your dinner plate with a lean protein, a savory side of fresh vegetables, and a hearty (and filling!) whole grain that's sure to please.

Believe it or not, some of the most flavorful kitchen staples are foods that save you from extra calories at mealtime. You'll anchor your plate with healthy proteins, like super flavorful salmon fillets swimming in a sea of superfast pan sauce, flaky tilapia on a bed of greens, or extremely versatile chicken thighs with a side of sweet potato spuds. Keeping your low-calorie dinner interesting is easy when you shop the freshest veg of the season: Start the year in spring with kale and carrots, move into zucchini and tomatoes, savor Brussels sprouts and mushrooms in fall, and finish strong with beets and winter squash. In-season produce you buy in bulk from the grocery store, or pick up for the first time at the farmer's market, can help you fill up at dinnertime without all those calories.

Discover all-time favorites or venture into new dishes that will keep you feeling great inside and out. This collection of low-calorie dinners is sure to keep any diet feeling new, exciting, and most of all, easy peasy all year long!

Study Suggests Cutting Calories May Help You Live Longer

A new study links lower calorie consumption to slowed aging and metabolism.

A recent study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found lowering calorie intake by just 15 percent—or 300 calories from the recommended daily guideline of 2,000�n slow aging and metabolism, leading to an overall healthier life and more positive mood.

The trial, called CALERIE (Comprehensive Assessment of the Long-Term Effect of Reducing Intake of Energy), examined people at a healthy weight and how restricting calories could affect their metabolism.

Stay up to date on what healthy means now.

For two years, 53 men and women between the ages of 21 and 50 cut calories by 15 percent without following any particular diet. Calories were calculated specifically per individual with the goal to maintain weight. Though the study’s main purpose wasn’t weight loss, participants lost around 20 pounds on average.

Weight loss wasn’t the only side effect participants experienced𠅌utting calories also slowed down their metabolism and signs of aging. These changes were measured through regularly tracking participants&apos insulin and thyroid hormone levels.

Lead author Leanne M. Redman, associate professor of clinical sciences at Pennington Biomedical Research in Baton Rouge told Science Daily, "Restricting calories can slow your basal metabolism, and if byproducts of metabolism accelerate aging processes, calorie restriction sustained over several years may help to decrease risk for chronic disease and prolong life."

Another good sign? Cutting calories decreased subjects&apos systemic oxidative stress, which is tied to age-related neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

Unpleasant side effects such as anemia, bone loss, or menstrual disorders typically associated with lower calorie intake were not found in this study. Though this is the first human study, previous studies that examined lower calorie diets were conducted on animals, and had found lower calories could lead to a longer life free of age-related disease, Wired reported.

The trial proves two major theories of human aging—the rate of living theory and the oxidative damage theory of aging. The rate of living theory suggests those who are most efficient at using energy will live the longest. The oxidative damage theory of aging indicates that damage to DNA, lipids, and proteins ultimately speeds up aging, according to the study.

The bottom line: This study is certainly compelling𠅋ut it was tested on a pretty small group of people for a short period of time, so more information and research is still needed. Until then, if you’re interested in cutting calories or trying a new diet, speak to your doctor first.

Switch Your Cut of Meat


Next time you find yourself craving a cut of beef, ask your butcher for a sirloin tip side steak instead of the filet mignon. Although the former isn't naturally as tender as the latter, it's a very flavorful cut of protein that your taste buds will love. Plus, the swap saves you 132 calories every 3.5-ounce serving! Use a chef's secret and salt your meat for an hour at room temperature before cooking it. The salt draws out the juices of the cut and tenderizes the protein, making it more flavorful and tender.

Here’s how many calories you should cut a day for weight loss, other health benefits, study suggests

If you want to improve your health, cutting calories could help.

Researchers from Duke University Medical Center recently conducted a study, published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, to determine the effectiveness of calorie restriction.

To do so, they examined 143 healthy men and women who ranged in age from 21 to 50. The participants were required to practice calorie restriction for two years by cutting their daily caloric intake by 25%. They could eat whatever they wanted.

After analyzing the results, they found many subjects did not achieve the goal. On average, the adults slashed only about 12% of their total daily calories, which is about 300 calories.

Although most of the dieters did not meet the target, they still experienced significant health benefits, including improved cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and better blood sugar control.

The dieters also had reductions in a biomarker linked with chronic inflammation, which has been associated with heart disease, cancer and cognitive decline.

Furthermore, they lost weight and body fat. They dropped about 16 pounds over the course of the study.

Those who were a part of the control group and did not cut calories did not have the same results.

"This shows that even a modification that is not as severe as what we used in this study could reduce the burden of diabetes and cardiovascular disease that we have in this country," lead author William Kraus said in a statement. "People can do this fairly easily by simply watching their little indiscretions here and there, or maybe reducing the amount of them, like not snacking after dinner."

Want to learn more about the findings? Take a look at the full assessment here.

20 Ways To Cut 500 Calories A Day

Losing weight demands some serious life changes. After all, you need to burn 3,500 more calories than you take in to lose just 1 pound. But if you cut 500 calories a day, you can lose a pound a week&mdashand it will be fairly painless.

"Calorie bargaining is all about making swaps and developing habits that are sustainable for the long-term rather than just depriving yourself," says Charles Platkin, PhD, MPH, distinguished lecturer at Hunter College and City University of New York School of Public Health. "A simple swap that cuts 500 calories has a multiplier effect: If it's something you eat three or four times a week, you cut at least 1,500 calories."

To help guide you, we've put together 20 simple calorie-cutting tips to get you to your weight loss goal.

1. Have your sandwich on a salad.
Two big slices of bread with mayo can tally up to 550 calories. (Here are 8 quick and healthy lunch recipes that aren't sandwiches.)

2. Skip the happy hour margarita.
Chains that serve margaritas in 18-ounce glasses are tacking on around 800 calories&mdashmore than a meal's worth. (Try this festive kale margarita instead.)

3. Opt for black.
A grande latte with no added sugar has 220 calories, while a cup of black coffee has 2. (Brew your own coffee at home with Prevention's Don't Burn Out Roast Organic Coffee Beans.) If you typically drink two cups with some sweetener, you're saving at least 500 calories when you switch to black, says Platkin.

4. While you're at it, try a cold brew iced coffee.
You'll save about 405 calories over a Starbucks Grande Mocha Frappuccino. (Save cash by making your own cold brew.)

5. Chew slower.
Chewing each bite twice as much as you normally do allows you to feel fuller on less food. Research suggests you can reduce what you eat at each meal by 100 to 120 calories&mdasheliminating nearly 400 calories&mdashand you can be satisfied on smaller snacks this way, as well.

6. Quench your thirst with water and a lemon squeeze instead of soda.
You'll save nearly 200 calories for every cola you skip swap out three drinks a day and you'll easily clear 500 calories.

7. Cook your meals at home.
A 2014 study found that people who cooked dinner at home consumed about 140 fewer calories than people who typically ordered in, dined out, or heated up pre-made meals. Make your own breakfast and lunch and you'll be nearing that 500-calorie deficit.

Learn how to shop for healthier foods:

8. Don't sit still.
A Mayo Clinic study found that people who fidgeted throughout the day burned 350 more calories than their sedentary counterparts did. Head out for a stroll for some window shopping during your lunch hour to burn an additional 150 calories.

9. Ask your waiter to box up half your meal before it gets to the table.
You'll save about 750 calories on average, according to a new study. Researchers found that a typical meal at an American, Italian, or Chinese restaurant contains nearly 1,500 calories&mdashfar more than anyone needs at one meal.

10. Swap prime rib for sirloin.
You'll cut about 700 calories. A 16-ounce prime rib at a restaurant has about 1,400 calories. A sirloin steak, on the other hand, is only 700. For even bigger savings, chose filet mignon&mdashtypically 9 ounces and just 450 calories.

11. Put your fork down between bites.
Slowing your pace at meals will allow you to eat up to 300 fewer calories a meal, according to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Over a day, your savings will be well over 500 calories.

12. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
You'll cut at least 300 calories. Research shows that sleep deprivation not only slows our metabolic rate, but also increases our appetite for sweets. One study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people who slept 4 hours per night consumed 300 more calories than people who slept a normal amount. Well-rested folks are also much more likely to exercise, and even a short workout can burn 200 calories.

13. Work out before breakfast&mdashand don't eat after 7 p.m.
The combination will save about 520 calories. A recent Japanese study found that when you exercise before breakfast, you metabolize about 280 more calories throughout the day, compared with doing the same workout in the evening. And a study in the British Journal of Nutrition reveals that eliminating nighttime snacks helped people consume 240 fewer calories daily.

14. Don't dip your bread in olive oil.
Just a few slices will quickly add up to more than 500 calories&mdashand it won't put much of a dent in your hunger. Yes, olive oil is a healthy option, but as a condiment, it mostly adds calories. Instead, avoid the bread plate altogether.

15. Eat in front of a mirror.
A study published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research found that when people watched themselves eat in a mirror, they chose healthier options and ate about 400 fewer calories on average. Bonus: Having a male meal partner led women to eat less, saving 113 calories, according to research published in Appetite.

16. Mix up your walks.
A study in Biology Letters found that adding short, fast bursts to your walks will burn up to 20% more calories&mdasheven over speed walking. That means an hour-long walk could easily burn an extra 90 to 120 calories. Exposing yourself to cold air also burns extra calories by making the body more sensitive to the hunger hormone leptin. Study participants who spent 3 hours of the day exposed to cold burned 250 extra calories.

17. Don't touch the chips and salsa.
Those deep-fried salty chips you get at your favorite Mexican restaurant offer little nutritional benefit, and a basket of them packs a 645-calorie punch. The balance of salt and satisfying crunch also makes it nearly impossible to stop noshing. Just say no. (Satisfy your chip cravings with these 5 healthy veggie chips.)

18. Eat mushrooms instead of meat.
In a Johns Hopkins study, people who substituted mushrooms for red meat ate 444 fewer calories, enjoyed their meal just as much, and felt just as full. The only thing missing? The calories.

19. Put away your phone during lunch.
People who looked at their phone during lunch, whether to peruse social media or to lose themselves in Candy Crush, tended not to remember their meal well, feel less full, and snack more in the afternoon&mdashand they ate about 200 more calories a day, finds a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Taking some time to clear your mind during the day will also save calories: Stress ramps up your fat-storing hormones and often leads to bad food choices. In a study of women over 50, those who felt stressed during the previous 24 hours took in 104 more calories than relaxed women did. (Beat stress fat with these 7 tips.)

20. Chew gum and drink even more water.
When volunteers in a University of Rhode Island study chewed sugar-free gum for an hour in the morning, they ate 67 fewer calories at lunch. Do the same thing in the afternoon and you'll be more than doubling your savings at dinner. Plus, people who drank an additional one to three glasses of water a day cut their food intake by 205 calories, according to a new study in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.


According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS): "Eating patterns that contain 1,200 to 1,500 calories each day can help most women lose weight safely, and eating patterns that contain 1,500 to 1,800 calories each day are suitable for most men for weight loss."  

Within these general guidelines, most adults can structure a diet plan that allows them to pare back their daily caloric intake to around 1,200 calories per day without undermining their nutritional goals or putting their health at risk.

Studies have shown that eating less than 1,000 calories per day can lead to lean muscle loss, which is the exact opposite of what you want to do.  

The goal of the diet is to burn fat, not lose lean muscle. Eating too little can actually lead to weight gain by tamping down your body's metabolism while increasing cravings.  

7. Pack in the protein.

Studies show that protein plays a key role in regulating food intake and appetite people who consistently consume protein regain less weight after a significant weight loss, too. Protein helps increase feelings of fullness because it takes longer to digest. When you skip protein in your meals and snacks, those pesky hunger pangs might encourage overeating! So get into the habit of consuming protein at each meal and snack.

ACTION TIP: Stick to lean sources of protein: Beans, hummus, egg whites, lean meats and low-fat dairy products (cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese and milk) can all give you muscle-building proteins without added fat.

Romantic Dinners Cut Calorie Intake, Study Shows - Recipes

Living a mostly-meatless lifestyle, but still eating fish? Our registered dietitians have put together an otherwise totally vegetarian meal plan that still leaves wiggle room for your nutrient-packed seafood. Enjoy's 4-week 1200 Calorie Pescatarian Meal Plan if you're watching your weight. and your meat intake!