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Keep Track of Food to Double Weight Loss Efforts

November 12, 2010
(Article first published as Food Diary Shown to Double Successful Weight Loss Efforts on Technorati.)

If you were to ask anyone who is trying to lose weight how many calories they eat each day or how long they spend exercising, chances are overwhelming that the answer would be grossly underestimated. People are very poor judges of calorie count or portion size when working toward a weight loss goal.

Most will indicate they eat very little when in reality they are taking in 20 to 40% more calories than anticipated, more than enough to sabotage their efforts. Another common mistake is the belief that since they are exercising regularly, they can consume more to compensate. The only way you can accurately gauge caloric intake and energy expenditure is to keep a daily log or journal to prevent excess calories and ensure successful weight loss.
Keeping a Food Journal Can Double Weight Loss

The results of a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine demonstrates that despite our best intentions, most people grossly underestimate portion sizes and calories eaten when they don’t measure their food. The researchers found that the more detailed food records that were kept by study participants, the more weight they lost. Those with the most meticulous recordkeeping lost twice as much as those who kept no track at all. And they were able to keep the weight off as long as they continued to record in their journal.

Keeping an Accurate Food Log: Be Honest With Yourself

It isn’t that people are trying to be dishonest with food tracking, as they are only hurting themselves. The problem is we like to snack between meals or grab a few jelly beans, a small piece of chocolate or a sugary power drink with the thought it won’t make a difference. Those calories add up and at the end of the day you could be adding several hundred calories to you total. Keeping a handy journal where you record every bite of food before it goes in your mouth can help you stay on track. Here’s why:

Provides a True Understanding of Portions and Calories: When you’re forced to account for every calorie you eat, you quickly gain an understanding of portion sizes and the type of foods that pack on the calories (processed snacks, baked treats and fried foods), compared to fresh vegetables that you can eat in almost unlimited quantities.
Record Your Food Before You Eat: The most important part of the program is to always record the food or drink and portion size before you consume it. This will give your mind the time to understand the caloric impact of your food choice and possibly you’ll decide that you don’t need to eat now and can wait until your next meal.
Remove the Emotional Element of Eating: We all eat for different reasons. Some people are emotional eaters, while others use food as a social event to entertain or maintain a family unit. These occasions are a guarantee that you’ll overeat if you don’t record your food ahead of time. Plan your meal before the event or meal begins and stick to your plan.
Failure to properly plan and record your menu can derail your best weight loss intentions. We frequently underestimate portion size and the total calorie count of a given food item or meal. Measuring or weighing all foods is critical to achieving your weight loss target. You can double the results of your efforts and keep the weight off permanently by keeping a daily food journal.
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