Losing weight is not a simple task. Even the most fit people may struggle when it comes to shed a couple of pounds. For instance, my target weight is 175 pounds, but in the last two weeks for some reason I have reached 178. It’s no big deal but in a triathlon race, when I push myself to the extreme those 3 extra pounds might make a difference. Thus I need to lose them. Now, I might be able to do it in just a couple of days but even I will need to stay focus and not indulge if I want to do it properly.
And that’s precisely what a recently published study claims: losing weight is no joke, and does not happen overnight. It takes focus, dedication and perfect planning.
In particular, researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle have discovered that the recipe for success is faithfully keeping a food journal, avoid skipping meals and eat less out, especially at lunch time.
The above food journal can be downloaded from www.theprojectgirl.com
The recipe for success
Dr. Anne McTiernan and her colleagues focused on identifying behaviors that helped women when dieting (where dieting means restricting calories).
The team of researchers found out that:
1) Women who kept food journals consistently lost about 6 pounds more than those who did not.
2) Women who reported skipping meals lost almost 8 fewer pounds than those who did not.
3) Women who ate out for lunch at least weekly lost on average 5 fewer pounds than those who ate out less frequently.
"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," said McTiernan, director of the Hutchinson Center's Prevention Center and a member of its Public Health Sciences Division.
How to keep the food journal
The four golden rules in keeping a food journal that the researchers identified as necessary to achieve the weight loss goal are:
1) Be honest: record everything edible that passes your lips.
2) Be accurate: measure portions and read labels.
3) Be complete: include all details regarding your meals such as added condiments and/or toppings.
4) Be consistent: always carry your food diary with you (or if you’re more into technology use your the relevant application on your smartphone).
“A food journal doesn't have to be anything fancy," McTiernan said. "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."
Skipping meals is a recipe for disaster
Another good weight-loss strategy is to eat at regular intervals and avoid skipping meals.
When you skip a meal, your blood sugar is affected, and not it a good way.
Low blood sugar means, among other things, feelings of fatigue or (more likely) food cravings. And once you have food cravings you’re likely to overeat.
"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," Mc Tiernan said. "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 might be tricky
Eating out frequently, another factor associated with less weight loss, may be a barrier for making healthful dietary choices. "Eating in restaurants usually means less individual control over ingredients and cooking methods, as well as larger portion sizes," the authors wrote.
However there are several tricks one can use when eating out. For instance, if you start your meal with a large salad with low-calorie dressing or a broth-based soup you will feel much fuller and are less likely to eat your entire entrée. Better yet: split your entrée with a dining companion or just order an appetizer in addition to your soup or salad.
A successful weight loss program is not rocket science but definitely requires some planning, organization and most of all a lot of willpower. However, the reward are so great that it’s definitely worth it!
The Iron You
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center via EurekaAlert!