Washington: Maintaining a food diary faithfully and not skipping meals could be one of the safest and surest ways of shedding weight, especially for obese postmenopausal women, a study says.
The study by Anne McTiernan from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, US, and colleagues, is the first to look at the impact of a wide range of self-monitoring and diet-related behaviours and meal patterns on the weight of such women.
"When it comes to weight loss, evidence from randomised, controlled trials comparing different diets finds that restricting total calories is more important than diet composition such as low-fat versus low-carbohydrate," said McTiernan.
"Therefore, the specific aim of our study was to identify behaviours that supported the global goal of calorie reduction," McTiernan added, the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports.
Women who kept food journals consistently lost about six pounds more than those who did not; while women who reported skipping meals lost almost eight fewer pounds than women who did not, according to a Fred Hutchinson statement.
Women who ate out for lunch at least weekly lost on average five fewer pounds than those who ate out less frequently (eating out often at all meal times was associated with less weight loss, but the strongest association was observed with lunch)
"For individuals who are trying to lose weight, the No. 1 piece of advice based on these study results would be to keep a food journal to help meet daily calorie goals," said McTiernan, director of the Hutchinson Centre`s prevention centre and a member of its Public Health Sciences division.
Some of the tips for keeping a food journal are: Be honest - record everything you eat; be accurate - measure portions, read labels; be complete - include details such as how the food was prepared, and the addition of any toppings or condiments; be consistent - always carry your food diary with you or use a diet-tracking application on your smartphone.
The analysis was based on data from 123 overweight-to-obese, sedentary women, aged 50 to 75 years, who were randomly assigned to two arms of a controlled, randomised year-long dietary weight-loss intervention study.