According to a weight loss study published by Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research and reported in the July 2008 issue of Science Daily, "Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records."
Double. Twice as much. Twenty pounds instead of 10 pounds. Holy guacamole!
What? Still not sure? Are you thinking, "Write down every single thing that I eat? I don't have time for this!" Sure, keeping an online (or paper) food journal is going to get a little bit tedious and will take up about 15 minutes of your day, but it is sooooooo enlightening! Our society has become so bogged down by low-fat diets, low-carb meals, and detox diets that we've lost sight of the basic fact that if you burn more calories than you eat, you'll lose weight. It's simple.
How Does a Daily Food Record Work?
If you keep in mind that one pound of body fat is equal to 3,500 excess calories, you simply cut about 500 calories per day to lose one pound each week. Or you can multiply your current weight by 10 to get the number of calories you can consume and still lose weight. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you can eat 1,600 calories each day and gradually lose weight just by tracking your food intake.
If you add regular exercise, you'll lose it even faster. Just watch your calorie intake if you're breastfeeding exclusively. Lactation expert Kelly Bonata, IBCLC, says, "While nursing, you should not consume fewer than 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day, and most women should stay at the high end of this range."
How Will a Food Journal Help?
Using a food journal in combination with an online calorie tracker will reveal where you need to make changes. Is it with snacks? Do you eat a big lunch? Maybe your excess calories are in your drinks. Many of the free online journals will offer healthy alternatives, recipes, and food-to-exercise ratios such as, "You'll need to run 1.5 miles to burn off two slices of sandwich bread." Helpful facts like the following are available on most calorie-counting websites:
- The average person underestimates his or her daily food intake by 600 calories.
- A "healthy" Subway Italian BMT sandwich has more calories than a Big Mac.
- A tuna salad often packs more calories and fat than a roast beef sandwich.
- A large bunch of grapes has twice as many calories and carbohydrates as a large banana.
- You have to walk for 45 minutes or ride a bike for 30 minutes to burn off the calories in one slice of cheese pizza.
Free online calorie counters such as Calorie Count, Fit Day, and My Calorie Counter are all over the Internet, so just sign up with one and log every single thing that passes your lips. Once you've got a few days logged, you'll start seeing trends and can figure out where to make changes, such as cutting out high-carbohydrate snacks. Or you can swap high-calorie meals like grilled burgers and pasta salad for lower calorie alternatives like grilled chicken breast and fruit salad.
Get started right now, and we promise you'll learn something new about food and your diet every day!