Simply noting down diet and exercise habits can increase weight loss by 100 percent, researchers repeatedly find.
The action of making notes helps make people more aware of what they are eating and what exercise they are taking.
There is no need for the process to be complicated — a simple text message or an email is sufficient.
Some studies even show that the more notes people make, the more weight they eventually lose.
One study, including 50 obese women, had them send daily texts on top of a regular weight loss diet.
The women texted the number of sugary drinks they had each day and the number of steps they walked.
Text messaging is an easy intervention, said Dr Dori Steinberg, the study’s first author:
“Text messaging has become ubiquitous and may be an effective method to simplify tracking of diet and exercise behaviors.”
The study’s results showed that women who tracked their diet and exercise with texts lost around 3 pounds across six months.
In comparison, those not sending text messages 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.”
Another weight loss study had people keeping food diaries and following a diet and exercise program.
The results showed that those keeping food diaries lost twice as much weight.
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).