Are you searching for an inexpensive route to a healthier weight? You may be able to take comfort in the fact that a powerful weight-loss tool may be as close as a pen and paper. It is not a new strategy for aiding weight loss, but if you are trying to shed pounds and are not currently using food journaling, recent research suggests participants who kept food journals lost almost double the weight of their non-journaling counterparts.
Scientists summarized the following from their study, which appeared in the July 16 online edition of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: women who want to lose weight should faithfully keep a food journal and should avoid skipping meals and eating in restaurants, especially at lunch.
One researcher stated, that when it comes to weight loss, evidence from randomized, controlled trials comparing different diets finds that restricting total calories is more important than diet composition such as low-fat versus low-carbohydrate. Therefore, the specific aim of the study was to identify behaviors that supported the global goal of calorie reduction.
If was found that:
- Those who kept food journals consistently lost about 6 more pounds than those who did not.
- Those who reported skipping meals lost almost 8 fewer pounds than women who did not.
- Those who ate out for lunch at least weekly lost on average 5 fewer pounds than those who ate out less frequently.
For individuals who are trying to lose weight, the number one piece of advice based on these study results would be to keep a food journal to help meet daily calorie goals. It is difficult to make changes to your diet when you are not paying close attention to what you are eating.
When keeping food diaries, individuals need to write down, for better or worse, every calorie that passes through their lips each day; be accurate and measure portions and read labels; be complete and include details such as how the food was prepared and which toppings or condiments you added; and be consistent and always carry your journal with you or use a diet-tracking application on your smartphone.
One participant lost 26 pounds and described his experience with keeping a food diary as “enlightening.” He attributed much of his success to the ability to gain immediate information and see the error of his ways.
But why do the journals work? Experts agree that the ultimate value lies in the “foundation of personal accountability” behind any successful lifestyle change, including weight loss.
Resources: IDEA Fitness Journal