If you keep a food journal you could double your success rate at losing weight. A recent study of 1700 overweight men and women who kept a food diary for 20 weeks saw a greater amount of weight lost than those who did not keep one.
One of the extra benefits is that it is easier to keep the weight off for the long-term which is harder than just losing it and you need all the helpful tools you can get to maintain those lost pounds.
A food journal works.
A food journal helps you because they:
1) Make you accountable
2) Help you understand where your calories are coming from
3) Identify if any extra calories are sneaking back into your diet
4) Act as a deterrent – just by knowing that you have to write it down suddenly makes that second helping not so important
5) Provide you with a concrete record of your success
One of the enlightening discoveries you can make by keeping a food journal is what an actual size size looks like. For example a serving of rice or pasta is just a half a cup. Many of us would be guilty of having four or more servings of these things without understanding how they can allow you to pile on the pounds.
A food journal is important also to make sure you are getting enough of the macro- nutrients each day – these are protein, carbohydrates and fats. You should be getting around 40 percent good carbohydrates (vegetables etc) 30 percent protein and 30 percent of your calories each day split up in to these approximate ratios.
Why these ratios you say? Well this balance of food intake has been proven to allow steady fat loss yet still provide sufficient energy to be able to put some effort into a proper strength training program. Only strengthening exercise can help you recover, rebuild and re-tone lost and weak flabby muscles are these are the drivers of your metabolism.
This is the best way to eat and exercise for maximum fat loss and a food journal can help you pull it all together so it works. It is important when losing body fat that you eat enough food, rather than food restriction. Just a hundred or two each day is all it takes to lose fat but if you slash your calories too much it will have the opposite effect – it will slow your metabolism.
A food journal is your secret weapon
So, with your food journal you can see each day exactly what you are eating and if you are not losing fat then you can drop another 100 calories out until you start losing fat. The secret is not to go more than a hundred or so at any one time. If you do your body will get what is called 'diet shock' and go into survival mode which will make you store more fat not lose it.
Your food journal can be just a simple note book with some ruled lines for protein, carbohydrates, fats and calories. During the day take a few minutes to update it and add things up so you can see where you are at. If you are short on any of the macro-nutrients or have not eaten enough calories (or too many) at the end of the day you can make them some adjustments. For example if you have not eaten enough protein you could have a serving of whey protein powder in some water which would up your protein count but not increase the other macro-nutrients.
Some people complain that keeping a food journal is inconvenient, but certainly being overweight and lacking the energy to live life to the fullest is way more inconvenient. You do not have to keep it forever but you do need to keep it till you have learned a new way of eating so you not only lose that extra fat weight but are able to keep it off permanently.
For some people this might be a few weeks. For others it could be months or a year or more. But if you are serious about losing weight a food journal is the backbone of your weight loss plan.