Placing a lunch order earlier in the day, even just an hour sooner, can cut down on the calories in your meal. That’s the major finding in a recent study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon.
The researchers had some corporate employees place lunch orders between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., while others made the call after 11. Those who went earlier picked a lower calorie meal.
“We saw that there was about a 30-calorie reduction for those ordering in advance,” said UPenn’s Eric VanEpps, first author on the study.
But when he and his team did a similar study at a university, the calorie savings tripled to 100 — which is equivalent to a banana.
VanEpps says yes, ordering later meant people were hungrier, but that doesn’t entirely explain the difference.
“We think it’s actually speaking to a general tendency toward indulgence when something’s going to be immediately consumed, and maybe a more even handed self control when there is some delay,” he says.
VanEpps says companies or schools looking to help people lose weight could play with this concept.
He adds that savvy users of apps such as OrderAhead or GrubHub could take this into account to cut calories slightly.
“Those apps are mostly targeted as a way to help people make more convenient purchases. But it suggests that those apps might be unwittingly be helping people making healthier decisions as well.”