For example, you might not realize just how much you eat when you go out to happy hour with friends. But if you take the split second to take a step back and make yourself aware of that fact, you’re more able to make a healthy decision. “The awareness and then planning and coming up with strategies for what else I can be doing—that might give me the same benefit of eating those comfort foods that make me feel better,” says Gagliardi.
In a Nutrisystem-funded study of 69 obese Type 2 diabetics, published in the journal Postgraduate Medicine in 2009, researchers reported that those assigned to eat meals on the Nutrisystem D diabetic track lost an average of 18 pounds after three months compared with 1 pound for the control group, who attended educational sessions on diabetes management and nutrition. At six months, the Nutrisystem dieters were down an average of 24 pounds, while the controls – who were switched to Nutrisystem meals halfway through the six-month study – were down 13 pounds. In a similar study published in 2013 in Nutrition Diabetes, 50 Nutrisystem dieters lost an average of about 22 pounds in six months, while the 50 control dieters lost only about 5.
But just because belly fat comes off a bit more easily doesn’t make it less dangerous. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. “Belly fat is unfortunately the most dangerous location to store fat,” says Dr. Cheskin. Because belly fat—also known as visceral fat, or the deep abdominal fat that surrounds your organs—is more temporary, it’s more active in terms of circulating in the bloodstream. That means it’s likely to raise the amount of fat in your blood (known as blood lipid levels) and increase your blood sugar levels, which as a result raises your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Studies led by Dr. Barbara Rolls at Pennsylvania State University as well as those of Drs. James Barnard and Christian Roberts at UCLA, who are following people attending the Pritikin Longevity Center, are particularly enlightening. They have documented that one of the best ways of reducing calorie intake without triggering increased hunger is to reduce the calorie density of the foods consumed. Put simply, a bowl of pasta with veggies and marinara can fill us up just as well as a bowl of pasta with cheesy Alfredo, but for less than half the calorie cost.
"When we’re lacking in sleep, our body’s hormones get thrown off balance which can impact our hunger levels the next day. We all have two hormones that affect our appetite: ghrelin and leptin. When we don’t get enough sleep, our ghrelin levels (the hormone that makes us feel hungry) rise, and our leptin levels (the hormone that makes us feel full) drop. This means that when we’re awake, we tend to eat more but feel less satisfied. Try going to bed a little earlier than usual to avoid this imbalance and remember to remove any distractions that might prevent you from nodding off."