Sports fans eat 16 percent more saturated fat after their team loses, according to a recent study published in Psychological Science. Basically, if you rooted for the 1-15 Dolphins in 2007, the 0-16 Lions in 2008, or the 1-15 Rams in 2009, their shockingly poor performance on the field may very well have resulted in you eating shocking amounts of Funyons, which then led to weight gain.
Your favorite team may have disappointed you in Week 1 — we’re talking to you, fans of Pittsburgh, Green Bay, and Baltimore. And you may be noticing now that your tear- and salsa-stained Zubaz now fit a little tighter. Well, next time your team breaks your heart — say, Week 2 — you can minimize the damage by adopting a few good habits:
1. EAT BEFORE YOU GO
Being full is the easiest way to hoovering junk food while your team pisses away a lead, says Kimberly Daly, a healthy lifestyle expert and author of the nutrition and training blog SomeKindofRunderful.com. Even a big brunch will end up being better than drunkenly ordering bar food during the game.
2. STICK TO FULL-BODIED BEERS
Cheap, crappy light beers often taste like they’re only slightly more filling than water — and that’s the problem, Daly says. “An IPA or stout takes longer to drink, so you’re more aware of how much you’re consuming,” she explains. “And when you’re done, you’ll also feel more satiated.”
3. DRINK WATER IN BETWEEN BEERS
Try to stick to one glass of water for every beer you consume. It’ll help hydrate you, which will help prevent any crippling hangovers, and it’ll also keep your stomach full. Plus, you’ll get a little cardio in as you’re sprinting to take a leak during commercial breaks.
4. SKIP THE CHIPS
Yes, Cheetos are delicious. But if possible, opt for crunchy snacks like carrots and celery dipped in hummus, suggests Nicole Avena, PhD, an obesity researcher and author of Why Diets Fail. Beef or turkey jerky are also on the okay list, especially if they’re not coated in a sugary glaze. Whatever you eat, put it all on a plate so you feel like you’ve actually eaten something substantial instead of spending the entire afternoon grazing.
5. EAT POPCORN
It’s way lighter than wings and mozzarella sticks, and you can make it healthy — and tasty — by making your own and adding salt-free seasonings.
6. KEEP THE EVIDENCE ON THE TABLE
If you’re hosting, you might feel tempted to clean up a bit during a commercial break, but this is a mistake. “Alcohol enhances cravings for fat, which is why you’re not reaching for carrot sticks after a day of drinking,” Daly says. “If the coffee table is clear, then it’s easy for your brain to believe it’s the perfect time to call for take-out.”