23 weight loss tricks - IMAGE - Women's Health and Fitness magazine

They may sound too simple to be true, but these eccentric weight loss tricks have the blessing of science. Too easy.

1. Redecorate 

Adorning your dining room with blue (think Kandinsky and Miro) could psych you into eating up to a third less than if you faced red or yellow décor according to a study by the Parsons School for Design in New York. 

Pin it

Taking photos of your food is more effective than a lo-fi food diary for keeping your fare on the straight and narrow according to a University of Wisconsin-Madison study. Subjects who recorded their week’s food in pictures reported greater disincentive to overeat than those listing their intake.

Reasons? By taking pictures of unhealthy snacks, some participants felt embarrassed and reluctant to indulge, while others became aware of the healthy foods missing from their diet. Pinterest, Instagram, whatever.

3. Hire a horror 

Deliberately scaring the pants off yourself by watching scary films may suppress appetite and churn through more calories than rom-coms according to researchers at the University of Westminster. The physiological responses to horror films result in decreased appetite while your body’s response to stress could boost basal metabolic rate, experts suggest.

Ban diet foods 

Forget weight loss shakes and liquid brekkies. A thick low-fat yoghurt may be more satisfying than a drink containing the same number of calories, suggests a study in the journal Flavour. Researchers manipulated the consistency of various low-joule foods to test the theory. Educated guess has it that thicker foods increase expectations of satiety, helping to quell hunger. 

5. Crank the soul

Cranking slow tunes while you dine may curb calories in by slowing eating rate. So found researchers at John Hopkins. With slow music, study subjects consumed just three mouthfuls per minute, while those listening to a faster track clocked five. When it’s time to down fork, you’ll be minus a few hundred kJs. 

Zip It 

Keeping your diet confidential could be the key to its success. Dieters who kept friends and family in the loop about their slim-down regimes were less likely to hit their weight loss targets, reveals a New York University study. The rub? Their positive recognition may cause you to claim success before reaching your goal. 

Cloud compute 

Logging eating and exercise somewhere public may keep you honest. In a study, subjects keeping old-fashioned food diaries failed to lose a gram while those recording their intake on a PDA device monitored by a remote health coach lost between four and seven kilos according to the Archives of Internal Medicine. For a free way to use the science, share a Google doc with a friend or coach.

Eat in bed

The cringe factor of eyeing your own reflection while you pile another forkful may automatically inhibit calorie intake. Arizona State Uni academics found that study subjects who ate in front of the mirror were more aware of their bodies and consequently pulled themselves up before overeating. 

Join Tinder 

While restaurant meals sound like a recipe for disaster, dining with a potential suitor actually curbs kJs in. Why? Many women believe dainty portions make them appear feminine to male dining partners according to a study from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of Akron. 

10. Switch hands

Here's an effort-free way to stop mindless snacking: switch hands. Eating with your non-dominant hand can disrupt auto-pilot eating according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Snackers who ate popcorn at the movies consumed less when asked to eat with their less-favoured hand.

1. Ditch the Mastercard 

Paying for food with cash could be the simplest tactic going. In a study, shoppers who paid cash were less likely to make impulsive, high-calorie choices than card-toting counterparts according to research from Cornell and Binghamton Universities.

Cake porn

No, really. According to the Positive Psychology Institute’s Paula Robinson, avoiding a food increases the likelihood of giving up because it invites negative emotions such as guilt while focusing on what you can have fosters empowerment and takes the rebellious appeal out of treats. Almost two thirds of Aussie women feel forced to give up foods they love according to a national survey conducted by Berri.

13. Geek out

Dishing up an appropriate 'serve' can be as tricky as returning an infomercial blender. While a 1 kg box of oats claims to contain 25 servings, another quotes 33. Quick fix: these rules. »

14. Use your words 

Tweeting about the weight loss journey can lead to greater losses than seeking support from family and friends, Facebook mates and weight loss site peers according to a study of 79 people at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Subjects, who lost an average of 16 kilos on their Twitter diets, reported feeling more comfortable discussing weight on Twitter in the study by Dr Sherry Pagoto.

15. Crash early

Skimping on shut-eye for five nights is enough to cause weight gain of up to a kilo, suggests a University of Colorado study. When subjects were restricted to five hours sleep per night, they beefed up in less than a week. The good news is is that sleeping for up to nine hours for days equated with weight loss. Sleep deficits increase the number of calories required to stay awake, which compounds poorer decision-making among overtired people, promoting overshooting the calorie mark.

16. Channel spin class

Writing down how much exercise you'd need to do to burn off brunch could curb calories in better than simply knowing how many kJs are in that cup of fries, say researchers at Texas Christian University. Placing exercise equivalents beside items on restaurant menus made people less likely to overeat than simply listing calories (which had no impact on order size or type). Being aware of how the numbers translate to the real world makes the consequences of overordering perturbingly clear, researchers suggest.


17. Blind test
Putting a lid on the bikkie tin or wrapping the leftover cake in foil could head off temptations to go back for more. Recent research into consumer decision-making found that 'choice closure' after making a decision effectively demonstrates to your deep brain that you're done, enabling your head to move on without being preoccupied with seconds. The psychological process through which consumers perceive a decision as complete and stop reassessing their choice can increase satisfaction with decisions involving many alternatives, London Business School academics found.


18. Get off your smartphone
Multi-tasking at meal times could downgrade perceptions of flavour, causing diners to shovel more to get the kick, says a study published in journal Psychological Science. Participants asked to create a drink to their desired sweetness while memorising a seven-digit number added more grenadine syrup when their brains were otherwise occupied.


19. Let it go
Struggling to hit your weight loss target? Make your goal weight a range, not a number. High-low range goals like 'lose two to four kilos' have been linked to greater staying power than single numbers. Researchers say flexible goals with a forgiving margin decrease the chance of 'failure' and promote a sense of achievement integral to motivation, the Journal of Consumer Research reported.


20. Veg out

Swapping beef mince for chopped button mushrooms is a surefire, hunger-free way to effect a calorie deficit. In a study at John Hopkins Weight Management Center, subjects who swapped red meat for white button mushies for a year ended the trial with lower BMIs, body fat percentages and waist circumferences. A hundred grams of mince contains around 750 kJ while the equivalent volume of mushies contains just 100 kJ.


21. Eat now, fast later

The longer you stay in a state of caloric deficit, the more likely you are to hoover a box of Krispy Kremes, shows brain imaging in a study at Oregon Research Institute. High-calorie 'palatable' foods became more appealing in as little as three hours without food, with the brain's response strengthening over time. So much for forcing down all those egg white omelettes.


22. Shop smart
You're more likely to load the trolley with low-cal options between 1pm and 4pm than 4pm and 7pm according to a study at Cornell University.


23. Manipulate your macros
If you feel like a junkie chasing a hit a few hours after eating, it could be the carbs. High-GI foods, which release glucose quickly, can cause excessive hunger and cravings in the four hours post meal or snack and encourage subsequent snacking according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. When study subjects consumed milkshakes with equal calories, taste and sweetness, those who unwittingly downed a high-GI shake had a seismic blood sugar crash, which caused excessive hunger and sends the brain's reward centre, the nucleus accumbens, into overdrive, promoting overeating at the next meal. Try swapping high GI carbs like potatoes (GI 82) and pretzels (GI 83) for parsnip (GI 52) and cashews (GI 27).

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