This Simple Trick Can Help You Cut Down on Calories

If you want time to slow down, get really hungry, order takeout food and watch the clock tick as you wait for the delivery to show up at your door. Then, proceed to indulge in a mini-eating contest, scarfing down the contents of your order in mere minutes.

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If that sounds like you, you might want to take note of this new study out of the University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon. The researchers say you should place your takeout order before you get hungry—sort of like the old advice of never going to the grocery store with an empty stomach.

The research was conducted over three studies in which participants ordered lunch at different times of the day; when the food was ordered in advance, the meals had less calories than the meals ordered closer to lunchtime or right at it. Somewhat surprisingly, there was no difference in meal satisfaction among subjects.

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“Our results show that ordering meals when you’re already hungry and ready to eat leads to an overall increase in the number of calories ordered, and suggest that by ordering meals in advance, the likelihood of making indulgent purchases is drastically reduced,” said lead author Eric M. VanEpps, a postdoctoral researcher at Penn. “The implication is that restaurants and other food providers can generate health benefits for their customers by offering the opportunity to place advance orders.”