Study: 3 easy things you can do to start losing weight now

Instead of focusing on any one specific diet, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center wanted to determine what kinds of simple behaviors people could do to help them lose weight. Their ultimate goal was to get people to reduce the number of calories they’re consuming regardless of what types of food they’re actually eating.

They came up with three specific things that you can do to lose weight, all of which are Weighthacker approved:

1) Keep a food journal.

2) Try not to eat out too much.

3) Don’t skip any meals.

I’ve found No. 1 to be one of the most effective ways for people to lose weight since it’s actually hard for your brain to keep track of your food intake (we simply weren’t built for that). Research team leaderĀ Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D., put it this way:

“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.”

Skipping meals was actually associated with eating more calories according to McTiernan:

“The mechanism is not completely clear, but we think that skipping meals or fasting might cause you to respond more favorably to high-calorie foods and therefore take in more calories overall.

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.”

Eating out is problematic because finding healthy options can be harder, you have little control over what ingredients are in your food, and you don’t control the portion sizes. With restaurants prone to serving massive portions, your’e practically bound to eat more than you intend to.

(from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics via MNT)

Posted July 18, 2012 @ 10:30 am | Tags: ,,

3 thoughts on “Study: 3 easy things you can do to start losing weight now

  1. I’m skeptical of the food journal. Studies only show correlation. Maybe people who’d keep food journals are more diligent? It doesn’t seem to have the same effect with people who use camera phones and blogs to record their food consumption. So it doesn’t seem to be due to the awareness of consumption or tracking their goals. Perhaps, it’s the capacity for hard work that explain their success.

  2. Photos of the food you eat, or writing down in general what you eat, is a different thing than actually writing down exactly what you ate and recording the number of calories. A photo of a large fancy salad is different than noting your 2 cups of lettuce are only 20 calories but the 1.5 ounces of dressing and tasty extras like croutons are another 400, and now you’ve had almost 1/4 of your day’s calories. You pay more attention to what exactly you are doing. It helps you eat mindfully.

  3. (Not affiliated, but) I highly advice – its free, you barcode scan your foods (or just search) & it tracks it all for you. Correlation as maybe – but when you see you’ve got 700 calories left for the day, you re-think the afternoon latte and grab a glass of water instead. It definitely helped me, at least.

    Also of note, once you DO start tracking your food/calories, after a few months going to restaurants isn’t as big a problem. Yes you’ll over eat, but you’ll know which foods to avoid and can ‘size up’ your plate when it arrives.

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