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Hutchinson Research Center Study Confirms Food Diaries Improves Weight Loss

In a USA Today story from the weekend edition out yesterday, a new study was just released by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on the impact of keep a food journal and the relation to weight loss.

The study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center tracked the dietary habits of 123 overweight or obese post-menopausal women on a weight loss program for one year.

Participants of the study followed diets with caloric intakes between 1,200 to 2,000 per day. While no specific dietary regiments were instructed, the women simply had to keep a food journal of everything they ate.

More after the jump…

The end result was the women who stayed with the program of journaling their food intake lost on average of 19 pounds or 11% of their starting weight.

That’s nothing to scoff at especially seeing how no specific dietary protocol was given. The mere fact they recorded what they ate and monitored intake had a significant impact.

This goes to show not only how valuable food journaling is with weight loss, but also how much of a difference even the basic dietary changes can make.

A 2007 study tracking overweight or obese individuals doing six hours of aerobic training per week for one year (60 minutes per day- six days per week), showed the average weight loss for one year to be only 3.5 lbs!

McTiernan et al- Obesity 2007 June – 15:1496-1512

In this study no dietary changes were instructed or food journals recorded. The individuals each followed their own diet at will but simply exercised for 60 minutes, 6 times a week.

So much for exercise as being the magic bullet for weight loss!

Quite frequently when people start doing a lot of exercise like this, they’ll simply eat more which washes out the caloric expenditure from the workouts.

Another reason why keeping a food journal is so important. I think it’s truly one of the best tools at an individual’s disposal for weight loss.

The research continues to back this up.

According to to Anne McTiernan, director of the Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Prevention Center, it all comes back to accountability.

“The more accountable you are, the better you are going to do at weight loss. A food journal is one of the easiest ways to keep track of what you are eating.

If you write it down, it seems more real. If you don’t, it’s so easy to pretend to yourself that you didn’t eat that much.” Go to article.

There are several on-line tools and apps available to help people keep track of their diet. My favorite is This is the app and on-line platform we recommend to our Charleston personal training clients and use in our studio.

Of course you could always go old school and just write it down in a notebook as well. While this won’t track the calories and macronutrient totals, the act of writing down your food choices will still go a long way towards establishing better habits.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts, a Mt. Pleasant based personal fitness training studio that specializes in Charleston weight loss programs for body transformation.

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Category: News.