NEW ORLEANS — The next diet craze may be the apple diet.
A new study shows an apple a day keeps the calories at bay. People who ate an apple about 15 minutes before lunch consumed almost 190 fewer calories than when they didn´t have the apple.
The research was presented Tuesday at a meeting of the Obesity Society, an organization of weight-control scientists and professionals.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University tested how the consumption of apples in different forms affects calorie intake.
They had 59 normal-weight men and women come to the lab for five weeks to eat breakfast and lunch.
Before lunch, the participants were given either nothing, 1½ medium peeled, cut-up apples (about 125 calories), or a similar caloric amount of applesauce, apple juice with added fiber or apple juice without fiber. About 15 minutes later, participants were served an entree of cheese tortellini and tomato sauce.
Participants who had the raw apple consumed 187 fewer calories than at the meals when they had applesauce, juice or nothing.
"This suggests that eating something like a piece of fruit that´s low in calories before your meal might be a great strategy for reducing calorie intake," says Julie Flood, a researcher at Penn State. "It looks like solid fruit is more filling than fruit juice, and people perceive them differently. They look at an apple and think it´s going to fill them up."
Barbara Rolls, a professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State, says the findings add to the knowledge that foods low in calories, such as soup, salad or fruit, at the beginning of a meal gives you an extra course, and you end up eating less.
"We expect the effect might have been bigger if we left the peeling on the apples," she says.
Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University´s Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, N.Y., says, "This is great evidence that it´s not the calories, but it´s the effort of eating that tricks us into thinking we´re full."