There are plenty of different techniques when it come to losing weight. People might try to lose weight fast by making liberal use of the best exercises for weight loss such as HIIT workouts, practicing intermittent fasting or trying metabolism-boosting tricks like drinking more green tea.
However, it's been found the most effective way to lose weight is by monitoring and modulating your diet. A study published way back in 2008 (opens in new tab) showed that people who monitor their diet by keeping food diaries lose around double the amount of weight as those who don't keep track of what they eat.
The study found "most people can lose weight if they have the right tools and support. And food journaling, in conjunction with a weight management program or class, is the ideal combination of tools and support."
Many of us are still very resistant to tracking what we eat, because we see it as a large administration task. It's commonly perceived as a very onerous, dull task that takes too much time and brain space to do properly, so most people don't do it. It's not, however: another much more recent study has monitored the amount of time it takes to journal your food versus the results that can be achieved.
This study, published by the Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research, also found the more food records people kept, the more weight they lost. Participants also found they spent just over 14 minutes per day actually recording how much they ate and drank.
"People hate it; they think it's onerous and awful, but the question we had was: How much time does dietary self-monitoring really take?" Jean Harvey, chair of the Nutrition and Food Sciences Department at the University of Vermont and the lead author of the study, told ScienceDaily (opens in new tab). "The answer is, not very much."
Over just 15 minutes per day, you can supercharge your weight-loss efforts, which isn't too much time to ask if you're taking your health kick seriously. Whether you use physical journals or an app like MyFitnessPal to count your meals, you'll find the weight starts dropping off once you begin creating a record of your diary habits.
Best of all, unlike lots of very intense weight-loss workouts that are often recommeded for maximum effect, this is advice anyone with access to a smartphone, computer or pen-and-paper notepad can take advantage of. An easy, cheap and effective hack to lose weight in just 15 minutes a day – what more could you want?
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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