When looking for a way to lose weight, quick usually seems to win out over low-and-slow (and sometimes even common sense). But a new study suggests that keeping a food journal may be just the trick to trimming your bod. And it can be done in about 15 minutes a day. Let’s face it, you probably spend more than that hating yourself for not losing weight fast enough.
Researchers at the University of Vermont and the University of South Carolina examined dietary self-monitoring habits of 142 participants in an online behavioral weight control intervention. Via press release:
After six months of monitoring their dietary intake, the most successful participants in an online behavioral weight-loss program spent an average of just 14.6 minutes per day on the activity. Program participants recorded the calories and fat for all foods and beverages they consumed, as well as the portion sizes and the preparation methods.
The study is the first to actually measure how much time it takes to self-monitor food intake in order to lose weight. The perception is that keeping a food “diary” is an all-day event.
“People hate it; they think it’s onerous and awful, but the question we had was: How much time does dietary self-monitoring really take?” said Jean Harvey, chair of the Nutrition and Food Sciences Department at the University of Vermont and the lead author of the study. “The answer is, not very much.”
Participants who lost 10 percent of their body weight — the most successful members of the cohort — spent an average of 23.2 minutes per day on self-monitoring in the first month of the program. By the sixth month, the time had dropped to 14.6 minutes.
The study found that the main factor that predicted weight loss was not the amount of time spent logging food, but the frequency. Said Harvey:
Those who self-monitored three or more time per day, and were consistent day after day, were the most successful. It seems to be the act of self-monitoring itself that makes the difference – not the time spent or the details included.
Results of the study are published in the March issue of Obesity,