In the movie Tommy Boy, starring the late Chris Farley, he says, “I have, what doctors call, a little bit of a weight problem.” Then he adjusts his belt and hikes up his pants to cover his bulging belly. That infamous line from the movie might make you feel a little uncomfortable, especially if you’re overweight or obese.
And if that’s enough to convince you to change your ways, let it be. But losing weight isn’t that easy for most people. However, new research suggests that it might be easier than you think to lose weight if you’re willing to write down what you eat.
The Typical Recipe for Weight Loss
Ask any healthcare or fitness professional for a recipe to lose weight, and the most common answers will be:
- Exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes a day.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.
Easier Said Than Done
Sounds simple enough. But getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet can seem like major obstacles to losing weight if you’ve been channel surfing for years and indulging in buffets, fast food, desserts, and second or third servings at meal time. That’s one reason an estimated 70 percent of all adults in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And it’s one reason why many diets, pills, and programs are available. Diets that include things like garcinia cambogia, green tea, and other supplements may aid with weight loss. But more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of many of these products.
Keeping a Food Diary Doubles Weight Loss
However, a new study published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that keeping a food diary can help dieters double their weight loss, compared to people who don’t keep track of what they eat.
In the study, researchers recruited 1,700 overweight and obese adults. Everyone in the study was attempting to lose weight, and researchers asked them to keep a food diary of their daily eating habits. And what they found during the 20-week study was shocking:
- The dieters who kept a food diary for six days or more lost an average of 18 pounds.
- The dieters who did not keep a food diary only lost an average of 9 pounds.
Why It Works
Researchers believe that keeping a food diary helps you keep your calories in check. Think of it as a way to keep you honest. There’s a psychological factor here that helps you refrain from overindulging. A food diary keeps you accountable, and helps you stick with your eating plan even when it might be a challenge.
Here’s How to Keep a Food Diary
1. Get a notebook, binder with paper, or even a smartphone app.
2. Record everything you eat for a couple of days. Everything. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and the entire package of cookies you ate during a late-night TV binge.
3. Then take a careful look at your eating habits. It should be pretty easy to see where you’re loading up on empty calories and when you’re overeating.
4. Make a plan to adjust your eating habits, especially during the times you know you’re likely to overindulge.
5. Share your plan with someone. And then continue keeping your journal for at least a month.
If you’re already taking a weight loss supplement like the plant-based garcinia cambogia, ginger, fish oil, L-glutamine, or one of many others, just add keeping a food journal to your efforts. And you’ll start to see results.
Donna Thornton is a health writer for Natural Nutrition Labs and is an expert in health, fitness and diet related matters.
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