Exercise is half of the battle in any effective weight management plan. People who utilize a food journal have been shown to lose twice as much weight as those who don’t. Here’s why:
The bottom line is that you probably don’t know how many calories you’re taking in.
- The International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2007 Food and Health Survey had some startling findings. Only 11 percent of those surveyed accurately estimated the number of calories they should be consuming in an average day. This means nine out of 10 Americans don’t know how many calories they need or how many they eat. Only one-third of the people surveyed identified that “calories in general are most likely to cause weight gain,” while 29 percent tied weight gain to fat calories, and 18 percent to calories from carbohydrates.
- In a 2006 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers asked 105 lunchtime diners to estimate the calories in the fast-food meal they had just eaten. The subjects underestimated the amount of calories by 38 percent.
- In the Journal of Consumer Research, one 2009 study found that consumers drastically underestimate the calories and sodium in fast-food meals. Consumers underestimated the level of sodium in meals by approximately 1,000 milligrams.
- In a groundbreaking 2008 study, Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research found that keeping a food diary encouraged weight loss. Participants followed a heart-healthy DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. The average weight loss for the 1,700-person group was 13 pounds, and those who kept a food log doubled their weight loss.
Many nutrition studies are done by bringing subjects into a scientific lab where they control what foods are consumed and “make people lose weight”. But in the real world, other factors are at play that can either contribute to or sabotage a person’s weight loss goals.
These two factors represent the two ways food logging works. First, calorie counting hinges on the scientific energy balance equation: calories consumed versus calories burned in activity. By tracking exactly what you eat, you’re able to see where you fall in the equation. If you have a calorie deficit, you will be losing weight.
There’s more at play in weight loss than scientific principles. A lot of it is psychological; let’s face it a large portion of overeating deals with impulse control. When that snack time comes and we just have to say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ sometimes we just don’t have the strength. You have to address those sorts of issues through the process of food logging.”
Secondly Food journals are a great self-management tool because they make you accountable for everything that you eat. Most people think twice before eating something if they have to write it down. Even if you only journals food for two weeks, this will at least give you a glimpse into your eating habits, calorie intake and make you aware of just how many calories are in some of your favorite foods.