Recent studies have found that monitoring and recording calorie and fat intake throughout the day is the single best way to predict weight loss success.
However, many people feel this method is unpleasant and time-consuming and they cannot do it continuously.
In a new study, researchers found that the reality of dietary self-monitoring may be far less difficult than people thought.
They found dietary self-monitoring only takes less than 15 minutes every day.
The research was conducted by researchers at the University of Vermont and the University of South Carolina.
The team aimed to find how much time people need to finish the diary of their food intake.
They examined how people monitor their dietary intake in an online behavioral weight-loss program for six months.
In the program, participants met weekly for an online group meeting led by a trained dietician.
All of the 142 participants wrote down the calories and fat for all the foods and beverages they consumed. They also recorded the portion sizes and the preparation methods.
The team found the most successful members of the program lost about 10% of their body weight.
In the beginning, they spent an average of 23.2 minutes per day on self-monitoring. However, after 6 months, the number dropped to 14.6 minutes.
These successful people self-monitored three or more time per day and were consistent day after day.
The researchers suggest that it is the act of self-monitoring itself that makes the real difference. The time spent or the details included may not be that important.
The research finding may help prospective weight-losers set behavioral targets.
Currently, many online dietary monitoring apps are available, the team hopes their findings could motivate more people to use dietary self-monitoring as a weight-loss strategy.
The study is the first one to quantify the amount of time that dietary self-monitoring takes for those who successfully lose weight.
The lead author of the study is Jean Harvey, chair of the Nutrition and Food Sciences Department at the University of Vermont.
The study is published in Obesity.
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