Although losing weight may seem
like an arduous task, there are some astonishingly easy steps you can take with
amazing results. Dieters who dropped the
most pounds in a new study followed three simple habits to attain the best
results—and you can, too.
Researchers from Fred Hutchinson
Cancer Research Center and other centers analyzed the effects of various
dieting strategies on 123 obese and overweight women who enrolled in a 12-month
weight-loss study. On average, the women (average age 58) lost nearly 11
percent of their starting weight.
However, three easy-to-follow
habits boosted the women’s weight loss. Here’s a look at the slim-down
strategies that worked best.
Writing down every single thing you
eat increases weight loss. In the study, women who were most diligent about
keeping a food diary lost six more pounds than those who didn’t track what they
“It is difficult to make changes to
your diet when you are not paying close attention to what you are eating,” study
author Dr. Anne McTiernan said in a press
release. And keeping a detailed record of what
goes in your mouth creates awareness.
“The more accountable you
are, the better you are going to do at weight loss,” McTiernan
told USA Today. Accuracy is important in this
weight loss strategy, so you’ll want to record every single thing you eat, with
as much detail as possible. Keep your food journal with you at all times, and be
sure to jot down everything from portion size, to how the food was prepared, to
any condiments added.
Avoiding restaurants or
takeout is another surprisingly simple weight loss strategy, which can lead to
a loss of 3% more body weight than eating out one or more times per meal. And
lunch appears to be the worst culprit—those who went out to eat or ordered
takeout at lunchtime once a week or more lost 5 fewer pounds than those who packed their lunches.
Cooking or preparing other
meals instead of eating out led to increased weight loss for breakfast and
dinner, too, but the strongest association was observed with lunch.
“Eating out may be a barrier
for making healthful dietary changes because it usually means less individual
control over ingredients and cooking methods, as well as larger portion sizes,”
the study stated.
If you must eat out, pay
close attention to how the food you’re ordering was prepared, how much of it is
on your plate, and how much of it you’re eating.
Women who ate regular meals in this
study lost almost 8 more pounds than those who skipped meals. Other research
indicates that people who eat breakfast are likely to weigh less than those who don’t. Additionally, an
11-year study also demonstrated that skipping
meals and regularly eating dinner away from home increases the risk of obesity.
Many experts believe that this is
because eating at regular intervals revs your metabolism, whereas skipping
meals slows it down. “Also, skipping meals might cluster together with other
behaviors,” the study authors wrote. “For instance, the lack of time and effort
spent on planning and preparing meals may lead to eating out more and/or
Another possibility is that you’re
more likely to snack excessively, seek out foods with higher calories or eat
more than you realize to make up for that meal you missed.
Instead of skipping meals, eat at
regular intervals. This may very well prevent unnecessary snacking, while
keeping your metabolism steady, according to McTiernan.
“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,” she said.
The Bottom Line on Successful Dieting
To maximize weight
loss, the researchers recommend the following tips for keeping a food journal:
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.
also found that dieters who are most diligent about self-monitoring (keeping a
food diary and weighing themselves regularly), eating regular meals, and dining
out less than once a week had the greatest weight loss during the
study—and were also more successful at keeping the pounds off during the 24
months the dieters were tracked.