Keeping a brief note of diet and exercise habits can double weight loss, research finds.
Writing down food consumed and any exercise done helps to make people aware of their habits.
Making more notes can lead to even more weight loss, studies find.
The process of making notes does not have to be complicated — in fact, most people find it easy.
Simply sending a text message or email is enough.
Each day, people in one study texted the number of steps they walked, the number of sugary drinks they had and whether they ate any fast food.
The study included 50 obese women, around half of whom used daily texting on top of a standard weight loss program.
Dr Dori Steinberg, the study’s first author, said:
“Text messaging has become ubiquitous and may be an effective method to simplify tracking of diet and exercise behaviors.”
After six months, women who sent texts tracking their diet and exercise lost almost 3 pounds.
In comparison, those that only followed a traditional method actually put on 2.5 pounds.
Dr Steinberg said:
“Given the increasing utilization of mobile devices, text messaging may be a useful tool for weight loss, particularly among populations most in need of weight-loss treatment.”
In another weight loss study, people who kept food diaries as well as following a diet and exercise program lost double the weight of those who did not keep a diary.
Dr Keith Bachman, a weight management expert, said:
“Keeping a food diary doesn’t have to be a formal thing.
Just the act of scribbling down what you eat on a Post-It note, sending yourself e-mails tallying each meal, or sending yourself a text message will suffice.
It’s the process of reflecting on what you eat that helps us become aware of our habits, and hopefully change our behavior.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (Steinberg et al., 2013).