If you’re looking for a workable and simple weight lost strategy, experts at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center have some good advice, based on study findings. According to the new report, women who kept a food diary to accurately record calorie intake, and never ate out at lunch ever were able to lose weight, even without exercising. Women also lost 6 pounds more than a control group when they kept a food journal.
Don’t skip meals and eat at regular intervals
Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues conducted the study that also found it’s important not to skip meals to lose weight. Women in the study who skipped meals lost 8 fewer pounds, compared to those who ate regularly and just eating lunch out once a week meant losing 5 fewer pounds.
Eating at regular intervals also seems to help, perhaps because fasting too long between meals leads to a desire for high calorie foods.
“We also think skipping meals might cluster together with other behaviors. For instance, the lack of time and effort spent on planning and preparing meals may lead a person to skip meals and/or eat out more”, McTiernan said in a media release.
The researchers looked at a variety of strategies for weight loss among 123 obese, postmenopausal women that included meal patterns, self-monitoring and other diet-related behaviors. The participants were sedentary and ranged in age from 50 to 75.
Two groups were included: One group exercised and dieted and another just focused on dieting.
A key finding is that it’s important to be consistent about keeping a food diary if you really want to shed pounds. Coinciding with the finding is the importance of recording everything you eat and being honest about your food journal entries to accurately count calories.
"For individuals who are trying to lose weight, the No. 1 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," said McTiernan in a media release.
Going out to lunch sabotages weight loss because choices are fewer and portions are larger, say the study authors.
It’s also important, McTiernan says, to keep track of how food is prepared, including toppings and condiments added to your meals.
Her suggestion is to always carry your food diary or use an application on your Smart Phone. McTiernan explains, "Any notebook or pad of paper that is easily carried or an online program that can be accessed any time through a smart phone or tablet should work fine."
At the end of the study, both groups lost an average of 10% of body weight, showing diet alone can be an effective weight loss strategy, when women (or men) are honest about calorie intake, control food portion and food type, read labels and measure portions. Keeping a food journal of every morsel consumed is the number one tip for successful weight loss, according to the study finding.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center
July 13, 2012