Scientific research has been hot on the trail with the release of evidence that certain behaviors will ensure you achieve a slimmer waistline. On Friday, the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, published the results of a one-year study seeking to determine what habits consistently lead to the largest weight loss results.
This study is among the first of its kind, attempting to quantify the efficacy of behavior and weight loss – although experts in the field have long known the two are linked.
So, which three strategies came out on top?
Of the 123 overweight or obese women studied, those who consumed regular meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner daily lost 11 percent more body weight than women who skipped meals.
The subjects that dedicated time to consistent and accurate food journaling lost 4 percent more body weight compared to those who did not. And, finally, eating at home or “brown-bagging it” for lunch resulted in a 3 percent increase in weight loss compared to women who ate lunch at a restaurant at least once a week.
While these behaviors yielded the greatest weight loss results comparatively, researchers saw commendable losses in subjects who weighed and measured their food and those that reduced the amount of fat and carbohydrates in their diets.
Researchers, however, were quick to caution the difficulty of achieving some of these behaviors in everyday life. In fact, some women struggled to maintain the habits even within the confines of the study – less than 5 percent of participants kept a complete food journal every day for the first six months of the study as requested by the study.
Although food journaling can be difficult, technology has made it simpler. If you can’t stand the thought of writing down all your foods – download a handy app to your smartphone. There are many on the market today that will allow you to scan the barcode of the food you are consuming or search for the restaurant you happen to be dining at and find your meal. Most of these apps will also calculate the calories, macronutrient content and, if you enter your personal data, track your weight management efforts.
Personally, and what I recommend to my clients, is planning ahead. I have found it to be far more effective than haphazardly consuming and recording. Make a meal plan at the beginning of each week, make your meals ahead of time and check off what you consume – it saves time, money and calories. If you eat something that is not on the plan, add it to your menu, if it is not part of your healthy plan, highlight it – at the end of the week or two weeks, measure your weight management success against how closely you were able to follow your plan.
This is also an effective way to compare which meals plans work best for you. Try different eating times for two weeks or a low-carb menu for four weeks, when you determine which menu plans yielded you the most success; combine the strategies from those weeks to comprise the perfect diet for you! Remember results take time – give your behavior changes a consistent 4 to 6 weeks to begin seeing results.