CHICAGO, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- A study showed that consumers set lower daily calorie budges if they set them by meal versus by day.
The researchers found that the daily calorie budget was lower by at least 100 calories, when study participants set the daily budget by meal rather than by day. This may not sound like much on the surface, but it translates to a pound of extra weight loss every five weeks.
Dieters are motivated to cut calories and, therefore, treat each instance of calorie decision-making as an opportunity to cut them. Setting calories at each meal provides more calorie-cutting opportunities compared to calorie setting by day, the researchers said.
The study, posted on the website of the University of Michigan (UM) on Wednesday, showed that in the budget-by-day approach, people thought about cutting calories for meals such as snacks and dinner where they were most likely to overconsume, but did not think about cutting calories for other meals, whereas in the budget-by-meal approach, they cut calories in all meals and this drove down the calorie budget in the by-meal approach.
The researchers also demonstrated that the lower daily calorie budgets set in the by-meal approach also translate into lower calories being consumed.
"We asked people to set budgets for the next day and then to take pictures of all the food and drink they consumed the next day,"said Aradhna Krishna, a professor of marketing at UM's Ross School of Business. "We found that people who had set the daily calorie budget by meal ended up eating fewer calories the next day compared to people who had set the calorie budget by day."
The results are relevant for controlling how much one eats, and also how much one smokes or drinks, basically for any context where people have a motive to reduce their consumption. They show that smokers lower daily budgets for nicotine when they set them by occasion rather than by day.
The study is scheduled to be published in the forthcoming Journal of Consumer Research.