Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Double Your Weight Loss

The majority of people balk at the idea but you can double your weight loss just by faithfully keeping a food journal.

Personal trainers and nutritionists have been recommending it for years but few people seem to do it. In fact, I think more people fudge their food diaries than keep accurate records. I remember one woman telling me about many of her fellow Healthy Inspirations members who would sit outside in their cars filling in their "daily" journal entries before their weekly meeting.

Yes it's a nuisance to log every thing you eat but, you know what, it works. And the latest research from Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon proves it once again.

Researchers studied almost 1,700 overweight or obese men and women whose average weight was 212 pounds. Participants were encouraged to reduce their daily nutritional intake by about 500 calories, engage in moderate physical activity for 30 minutes or more each day and to follow the DASH eating plan.

Study participants also attended 20 weekly meetings and were asked to record their exercise minutes and daily food consumption.

At the end of 20 weeks, researchers found that the regular use of a food journal predicted weight loss success.

According to study co-author Dr. Victor J. Stevens, "The more food records they kept, the more they lost. Those who kept no food records lost about 9 pounds, and those who kept six or more per week lost about 18 pounds. That's a whopping difference."

What is it about keeping a food diary that makes such a difference? Personally, I think it makes people more conscious of how much they actually consume. Plus, if you know you have to record everything you eat, you're more likely to think twice before going for seconds or mindlessly grabbing a handful of m&m's from your co-workers desk every time you walk by.

People constantly say or post on forums that they don't eat much or that they know what to eat, etc. If the vast majority of those people spent one week writing down everything they actually put in their mouths, I think they'd be in for a huge awakening.

The best method is recording your intake after each meal or snack because you're less likely to forget something. Use whatever method works for you- an actual notebook or an online log. There are lots of free food journals available online. FitDay and My Calorie Counter are just two. You can also find printable food logs if you prefer writing things down.

Having a professional look at your diary is important, too. There is a lot of confusion out there. I'm always shocked when people "don't count" their liquid calories or eat salads every day but slather on the dressing.

If you're having a hard time dropping pounds, give food journaling a try; it does get easier. As study participant, Frank Bitzer, said "The more I got into it, the easier it became to keep track of what I ate every day." Frank is 64 and lost 26 pounds during the study.


jimray said...

Food diaries are great. But you have to be serious about it, and honest with your measurements. When you cheat on your food diary, you're only cheating yourself. But it's amazing how quickly you become aware of what you're eating when you record it. My favorite free food diary is NutriMirror.

Mickey said...

You're absolutely right, jimray. It's like anything else; if you put out a mediocre effort, you'll get mediocre results.

Thanks for the NutriMirror recommendation; it's one I hadn't heard of.

jimray's link doesn't work so if anyone wants to check out the site go to http://www.nutrimirror.com/