Go to main section Go to footer
This action will scroll the page to the content
Close dialog
Rediscover What Matters


We’ve been fiercely committed to real results and meaningful innovations based on scientific insight and the tireless pursuit of fitness perfection.

Flex Muscles to Fight Food Cravings

The raised clenched fist is an international symbol of protest — and now new research suggests it might literally help you fight food cravings and preserve your precious physique!  If you’ve ever tensed up while trying to weather an unpleasant situation, you’ll understand why this might work: Muscle tightening helps you marshal strength for action, including rejecting tempting choices, such as the dessert tray, super-sized portions, or unhealthy snacks on the go.

The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, monitored 66 undergraduate students of both genders to see how tensing muscles might affect snack buying behavior. The researchers used questionnaires to separate the group into those with long-term health/fitness goals, and those more inclined toward indulgence.  Students were asked to perform an exercise of either loosely or tightly weaving a pen between fingers for 30 seconds before choosing snacks. Those concerned with wellness displayed 140% more willpower to make a healthy food selection than those who did not use the tensing method. Although often exhausted, willpower may be easily triggered just by clenching your fist!

According to the study authors, this tensing trick worked “regardless of which muscles were tightened — hand, finger, calf or biceps — while trying to exert self-control.” The exercise also worked with helping withstand physical discomfort, or deal with emotional distress. Bottom line: When temptation strikes, strike back by tensing up your muscles. Other tricks to try:

Upsize your fork:
For years, we have heard the weight loss suggestion to use a smaller plate to feel satisfied eating a lesser portion. Now it seems the opposite works when it comes to using a fork. According to a recent experiment conducted by business school researchers at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, diners who used a big fork ate less. The study was recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Switch hands:
Research at the University of Utah also found that holding your fork in your non-dominant hand (i.e., your left if you’re right-handed) will also slow you down, which helps you consume eat slower, feel satiated sooner, and eat less.

Break out of a weight plateau:
By getting IN to a diet rut — eating the same meal day after day will lead you to consume fewer calories (but choose your rut wisely, incorporating fruit, veggies, and lean protein).  Studies consistently show that too many food choices tempts us to eat too much food.

Start with soup or salad:
A proven method to increase fullness, and lower total calorie consumption, is to start your meal with high-water content vegetables or broths.

So the next time you are dining out and the dessert cart rolls up, just start flexing and posing like Arnold Schwarzenegger!  Hmmm, maybe just eat the cake, and work out more intensely at your next Arc workout.

Holly Aglialoro
Guest Blogger and Fitness Enthusiast


Cybex is a provider and manufacturer of premium commercial fitness equipment. Content featured in the Cybex Fitness Blog is meant to inspire healthy living and wellness and should not be taken as medical advice. For medical advice please consult a doctor.