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Food-Proof Way to Lose Weight: Keep a Food Diary

Food-Proof Way to Lose Weight: Keep a Food Diary

Writing down what you eat every day will automatically help you eat less and better.

Top athletes make sure they know precisely what they eat every day: This year’s Super Bowl champ, Patriot’s QB Tom Brady (he’s 41) follows a strict routine of 80 percent vegetables and whole grains, 20 percent lean meats. But chances are you can’t remember what you ate yesterday! A couple of years ago, 75 percent of Americans told pollsters they ate healthfully—while 90 percent fail to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, according to the CDC. Little wonder 70 percent of US adults are overweight or obese and don’t know how they got there.

If that’s you, try this trick that’s proved to work: Keep a food diary. The act of writing down—every day—everything you put in your mouth will automatically help you eat less and better. That’s the conclusion of a study published in Obesity. The researchers acknowledge that most folks feel like keeping a food diary is an onerous task—but they show it isn’t and it works. Over six months, study participants who lost 10 percent of their body weight spent only 14.6 minutes a day recording the calories/fat, as well as the portion sizes and preparation methods. But don’t get too obsessed, it was the frequency of making notes not the quantity of details that correlated with the greatest weight loss. Three or more entries a day was optimal.

So, download a diary from www.nhlbi.nih.gov (search for “Daily Food and Activity Diary”) or enlist a buddy or coach to email your food choices to daily.

Medically reviewed in September 2019.

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