A new weight loss study has revealed that the key to keeping off the pounds may require you to put pen to paper.
Dr. Anne McTiernan, the director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, led a year-long study of weight loss in overweight and obese women and identified keeping a food and drink journal as the most successful way to lose weight.
Along with food journaling, McTiernan claims that not skipping meals and eating out at restaurants less often are also crucial steps towards effectively losing weight. What these three strategies have in common is that they all require dieters to pay close attention to exactly what they’re eating, and what ingredients go into preparing their meals.
McTiernan’s study randomly assigned 123 sedentary, postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 75 to one of two weight-loss plans, one which relied on diet and exercise and one that relied on a restricted-calorie diet alone.
Throughout the study, McTiernan and her colleagues noticed that, regardless of which experimental group the women had been assigned to, those who kept food journals consistently lost around six pounds more than those who did not.
Meanwhile, women who reported skipping meals lost nearly eight pounds less than those who ate regularly. McTiernan attributes this finding to the fact that people who skip meals have less willpower to resist high calorie foods later on in the day. Similarly, women who ate out for lunch more frequently lost five pounds less than those who brought lunch to work or ate at home.
The study’s authors advise people looking to start a food journal to be honest, accurate, and consistent in order to maximize their results. Being aware of what goes into your body can help you stay in shape, get in tune with your body’s nutritional needs, and appreciate the great tastes of the food you’re eating as well.