Diet Detective: Burn Calories for 14 Hours, Eat Lighter Lunches and More News You Can Use

by Charles Platkin, PhD

Exercise Works Even When You’re Done

According to a recent study by researchers at Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina, a 45-minute bout of vigorous exercise can boost a person’s energy expenditure for up to 14 hours. The study, published by the American College of Sports Medicine, examined energy expenditure among 10 healthy male participants during two nonconsecutive sessions of 24 hours in a metabolic chamber. (The chamber is a small room a person lives in during research while calorie burning is measured during meals, sleep and activities. Researchers measure the heat released from the body to find out how much energy is burned.) During the first session, participants were mostly inactive, but they stood and stretched for two minutes every hour. They could also perform everyday tasks, such as washing their hands and brushing their teeth, as needed. During the second session, participants followed the same routine, but they cycled vigorously (defined as 73 percent maximal oxygen uptake) for 45 minutes at 11 a.m.

The increased calorie burn lasted for an average of 14.2 hours after exercise and included the first 3.5 hours of sleep. Participants maintained energy balance (expending the same number of calories they consumed) during both sessions, so they consumed snacks on exercise day that replaced the calories they burned during exercise. The calories burned after exercise represent a 37 percent increase in net energy expended compared to no exercise, and these findings may have implications for people trying to lose or manage their weight.

Fight Hunger and Lose Weight with a Lighter Lunch

In a study by researchers at Cornell University published in the journal Appetite, participants who ate portion-controlled lunches did not compensate by eating more calories later in the day, leading the researchers to believe that the human body does not possess the mechanisms necessary to notice a small drop in energy intake. The study closely monitored the food intake of 17 volunteers who ate whatever they wanted from a buffet for one week. For the next two weeks, half the group selected their lunch by choosing from one of six commercially available, portion-controlled foods, such as Chef Boyardee Pasta or Campbell’s Soup at Hand, but could eat as much as they wished at other meals or snacks. For the final two weeks, the other half of the volunteers followed the same regimen. While eating portion-controlled lunches, each participant consumed 250 fewer calories per day and lost, on average, 1.1 pounds.

Desktop Dining Could Make You Sick

According to a new survey by the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods’ Home Food Safety program, 83 percent of those surveyed eat at their desk. Late nights at the office even leave a small percentage (4 percent) eating dinner at their desk. The problem is that many desktops are filled with bacteria that can lead to food-borne illness. Here are the researchers’ recommendations:

Wash your hands: Only half of all Americans say they always wash their hands before eating lunch. In order to reduce the risk of food-borne illness, you need to wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling food. Keep your desk stocked with moist towelettes or hand sanitizer for those times when you can’t get to the sink.

Use a Fridge: Make sure to keep your office fridge clean and below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Perishable food needs to be refrigerated within two hours (one hour if the temperature is higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit) from the time it was removed from the refrigerator at home.

Use a food thermometer: According to the survey suggestions: “Microwave ovens can cook unevenly and leave cold spots, where harmful bacteria can survive. The recommended way to ensure that food is cooked to the correct temperature, thereby eliminating any harmful bacteria that may be present, is to use a food thermometer. Re-heat all leftovers to the proper temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Does Cutting 3,500 Calories Really Mean You Lose 1 Pound? Maybe Not

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “For decades, a high proportion of doctors and dietitians have worked to an incorrect assumption that cutting 500 calories of energy intake per day will result in steady weight loss of about 1 pound per week. This assumption ignores changes in the body’s metabolism and leads to unrealistic expectations for diet plans.”

Dr. Kevin Hall created a model that “simulates physiological differences between people based on sex, age, height and weight, and helps explain why some people may lose weight faster compared to others, even when they eat the same diet and do the same exercise. The model also provides a rough dieting rule for a typical overweight adult: Every 10 calories per day reduction in energy intake will result in a bodyweight loss of about 1 pound over three years, with half of that occurring in the first year. So, cutting a habitual daily 250-calorie chocolate bar will lead to about 25 pounds of weight loss over the next three years. This is much less than the 78-pound weight loss predicted by the old dieting assumption.”

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