Sometimes, no matter how hard you train, that excess fat just refuses to shift – sound familiar? Luckily, there is scientific evidence that proves that by simply tracking what you eat carefully, you can spot patterns in what you eat. By spotting patterns, you can eliminate the foods that are the fat-storing culprits and even shift some of that extra weight.
It’s a far easier process than carefully weighing out every meal, counting up the calories and logging the amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat you consume. That in itself is immensely time-consuming and usually removes all the enjoyment of a meal – at home, out or even at a friend’s house. It also means that by weighing and logging every single morsel, going to a restaurant is usually off the menu (pardon the pun) because you can’t walk into the restaurant’s kitchen and start weighing out your meal! Instead, try tracking your meals instead.
How to Track Your Meals
All you have to do is keep a notebook handy (or use the notes section on your smartphone) and write down everything you consume. Call it your Food Diary. Note down the time you eat as well and don’t forget to write down your drinking patterns too (water included). It does work, here are the reasons why tracking what you eat can help you lose fat:
It’s Scientifically Proven
There was a study carried out by the Kaiser Permanent Care Management Institute’s Weight Management Initiative back in 2002. See the research. The study examined 1,700 people (a mix of men and women) to see how a food diary impacted their weight loss journey. Interestingly, those who wrote down what they ate every day lost double the amount of weight than those that did not do so. The reason behind this is believed to be that those that kept track of their food consumption became far more mindful of what they ate. They then consciously reduced the amounts of food they consumed as well as how often they ate something.
It Reduces Portion Size
Similar to the above point, by tracking food you’re less likely to eat double or larger portions. If you don’t track your food, you might well eat a bigger main meal but as soon as you start tracking your food you notice your portion size and this can make you think about the amount you’re eating. So, the thought process here is that you would make a conscious decision to reduce that portion, perhaps have a slimmer slice of cake or skip that second portion of French Fries. By keeping track, you make better choices.
Tracking Food Shows What Nutrients Your Diet is Possibly Missing
By keeping an eye on what you eat, you soon notice patterns. So you might see that you’re overeating refined sugar and not eating enough protein (protein is excellent for weight-loss). Or you’re not eating enough fibre (another great choice for weight loss as it keeps you fuller for longer). It can also highlight why you aren’t losing weight – identifying areas you hadn’t even noticed! As an example, you might enjoy a glass of wine at lunch, a beer late afternoon and a whisky in the evening – all add empty calories that sit on your waistline. If you don’t acknowledge these patterns, you won’t change them and a food diary works by pinpointing where you’re going wrong.
Food Diary Pointers
So now you know the reasons, how do you set about keeping a food diary? Here are a few pointers:
- Carry out the experiment for at least a week so you can see patterns and times of the day when you feel hungry for example mid-morning. If this is the case, ask yourself if you are eating the right type of breakfast to keep you fuller for longer?
- Use the same place for your diary, so not on scraps of paper that are easily lost. Use your smartphone, your iPad or a notebook that’s small enough to carry around with you
- Remind yourself to use your food diary – set a calendar alarm every day so you don’t forget. Or, put a post-it note where you can see it (on your fridge, on your computer, on your desk, for example)
- Don’t meal-plan. To start this project, you need to be honest about what you’re eating first, before making those conscious or subconscious changes
To summarise, keep a food diary for at least a week. Remember to list down every single thing that you consume. At the end of the week, note the patterns and see where you can make easy changes or let the food diary work for itself. Start by weighing yourself on day one, then weigh yourself after keeping track of your food and drink consumption for a whole month and see if you’ve managed to shift any weight just by better decision making.