Several research studies have found that people tend to eat less when they know how many calories are in their food. Other studies have found that people tend to underestimate the amount of calories that are in their restaurant meals. While dining out can be part of a healthy lifestyle, consuming just 100 calories more than what you think every day can tip the scales and derail your energy balance, causing weight gain over time.
A new study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity looked at three different groups of restaurant diners who received 1) a standard menu without calorie information, 2) a menu showing each item’s calorie count and 3) a menu featuring traffic light symbols representing a range of calorie counts*.
By the end of the meal, the diners who ordered off the standard menu consumed an average of 817 calories, whereas those who ordered from the menu showing calories consumed an average of 765 calories. Diners who ordered from the menu with the traffic light symbols consumed an average of 696 calories.
Although the difference may seem small (52 calories and 121 calories between the standard and the two other menus), this reduction can add up over time. For successful, sustainable weight loss, try to incorporate healthy habits in your lifestyle and aim for weight loss of one to two pounds per week.