For years, researchers have warned that large bites tend to promote bigger bellies, because they encourage over-eating. Until now, it wasn't clear why so many Americans have difficulty sticking to smaller servings sizes; however, new information has many weight-loss experts intrigued. According to a new study, losing belly fat isn't just dependent on how many calories we eat; it's tied to how the food smells.

Numerous studies have shown that portion control is one of the most important features of any successful dieting program; however, most people have difficulty controlling how much they eat at any one time. Past research has demonstrated that people tend to take larger bites of foods they are familiar with and smaller bites of new or unfamiliar meals. On the other hand, until now, no one had considered if smell affects the way we eat.

To find out, researchers at the Wageningen University and Research Centre fed a group of participants vanilla custard, while toying with their sense of smell. While they ate, the subjects received potent custard smells through a tube. During the test, each subject was allowed to control how much her or she ate by manipulating a button. Ultimately, everyone stopped eating once they'd consumed a so-called normal amount of calories.

According to senior researcher Rene de Wijk, the heightened smells appeared to help the participants feel satisfied without over-eating, and he suggests that manipulating the smell of food may contribute to weight-loss by resulting in a 5 to 10 percent decrease in calories per bite. Past studies seem to back up this theory; as many have shown that the more bites a person takes, the more chewing they tend to do, which ultimately results in quicker stomach satiety. In other words, losing belly fat may be as simple as taking smaller bites.

Although, it's impractical for dieters to mimic de Wijk's study, some nutritionists suggest that aromatherapy may be used during meals to suppress appetite and discourage over-eating. While this may prove effective for some, Wijk suggests that the smells may need to "fit" the food to promote optimal results.

Dieters may also benefit from eating foods that emit rich smells, or by stopping to smell their meals before each bite. In the end, losing belly fat tends to require a comprehensive approach based on smart dieting strategies and an active lifestyle. For more on how you can trim your waistline, read the following feature focused on fast weight loss tips and good diet foods.

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