I often hear people commenting they simply can’t lose weight.
However, a new study indicates that most people can in fact lose weight, if they have access to the right tools and support.
The study, conducted at the Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research, suggests that food journalling, in conjunction with a weight management program, is the ideal combination of tools and support.
Researchers found that keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss. The results are to be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Lead author Jack Hollis stated,
“The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost. Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records. It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories.”
Study participants followed the DASH diet, which encourages plenty of fruits and vegetables and dairy foods. They also attended weekly group sessions, and exercised at moderately intense levels for at least 30 minutes a day.
After six months, the average weight loss, among the almost 1,700 participants, was approximately 13 pounds.
More than two-thirds of the participants (69%) lost at least nine pounds.
This was enough to reduce their health risks, and qualify for the second phase of the study, which lasted 30 months, and investigated strategies for maintaining the weight loss.
Co-author Victor Stevens said,
“More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. If we all lost just nine pounds, like the majority of people in this study did, our nation would see vast decreases in hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.”
In an earlier study Stevens found that losing as little as five pounds can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure by 20%.
If you need more convincing check out the ABC news report on this study.
Weight Loss Accountability
Keeping a record of what you eat is an excellent first step in assessing the quality of what you actually eat, and can give an incite into why you eat the way you do.
It’s important to:
- Update your diary as you eat – it will be difficult to remember later on.
- Be specific or be vague – do whatever works for you personally.
- Stick with it – even though it seems tedious.
Keeping a food diary doesn’t have to be a formal thing. Maybe the simple act of quickly scribbling down what you eat is all that’s necessary.
- Excel spreadsheet
- Post-It notes
- White board
- E-mailing or texting yourself
- Or visually record your meals using a digital camera
Just remember, it’s more about the process of reflecting on what you eat, than how you choose to record your intake.
Have you tried food journalling? Did you find it useful? I’d love to hear from you!