3 Slimming Strategies That Work
Research shows that when it comes to weight loss, how many calories you eat is more important than the type of diet you follow. But what’s the best way to keep your caloric intake under control? To find out researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle randomly assigned 123 overweight-to-obese postmenopausal women to one of two weight-loss interventions: diet only or diet plus exercise. Study participants were also required to provide information about their dietary intake, eating-related weight-control strategies, self-monitoring behaviors, and meal patterns.
At the end of the study, participants in both groups had lost an average of 10 percent of their body weight, however there were three specific behaviors that influenced the women’s weight loss.
Women who kept food journals consistently lost about 6 pounds more than those who did not. It is difficult to make changes to your diet when you are not paying close attention to what you are eating," said study author Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, director of the Hutchinson Center's Prevention Center and a member of its Public Health Sciences Division.
Women who reported skipping meals lost almost 8 fewer pounds than women who did not. “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," said McTiernan. "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."
Women who ate out for lunch at least weekly lost on average 5 fewer pounds than those who ate out less frequently. "Eating in restaurants usually means less individual control over ingredients and cooking methods, as well as larger portion sizes," the authors wrote.
"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,” said McTiernan. "While the study provided a printed booklet for the women to record their food and beverage consumption, a food journal doesn't have to be anything fancy." 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."
If you’re new to food journaling or haven’t had success with it in the past, follow these four research-tested tips:
• Be honest: Record everything you eat.
• Be accurate: Measure portions, read labels.
• Be complete: Include details such as how the food was prepared, and the addition of any toppings or condiments.
• Be consistent: Always carry your food diary with you, or use a diet-tracking application on your smart phone.
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