Monday, July 13, 2015

Are restaurants making it impossible for you to lose weight?

The Study
Most people know that eating out at restaurants is not a good strategy when trying to lose weight, but it may be worse than you think. Researchers from Tufts University purchased the 42 most commonly ordered meals in the Boston area from 9 categories of restaurants: Mexican, American, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Greek and Vietnamese. They then measured the calorie content of the meals by bomb calorimetry. The average calorie content was a stunning 1,327 calories. This amount is more than twice the amount of calories necessary for weight maintenance. The scary thing about this study is that the researchers did not include appetizers, bread or drinks in the calorie analysis! JAMA Internal Medicine 2013;173:1292-99.

Take Home Message
Women looking to lose weight should be hitting about 1200-1300 calories per day. Men looking to lose weight should shoot for 1500-1600 calories per day. One meal out in your typical restaurant will make it impossible to hit these goals. To lose weight, eat at home the majority of the time and save restaurant meals for the couple of times a week you are allowed to cheat. The authors argue that mandatory calorie listing on menus would promote lower calorie meals by restaurants and better choices by customers. I am beginning to think that this is a good idea.


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