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The 15-minute a day weight-loss strategy that works

The 15-minute a day weight-loss strategy that works

The 15-minute a day weight-loss strategy that works

Write it when you bite it! If you want lose weight, research shows, the single best predictor of weight-loss success is monitoring and recording calorie and fat intake throughout the day, and this takes no more than 15 minutes.

Dietary self-monitoring is the best predictor of weight-loss success. But the practice is viewed as so unpleasant and time-consuming, many would-be weight-losers won’t adopt it.

However, new research – to be published in the March issue of Obesity – shows for the first time how little time it actually takes: 14.6 minutes per day on average. The frequency of monitoring, not the time spent on the process, was the key factor for those in the study who successfully lost weight.

“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?” says Jean Harvey, chair of the Nutrition and Food Sciences Department at the University of Vermont and the lead author of the study. “The answer is, not very much.”

After six months of monitoring their dietary intake, the most successful participants in an online behavioural weight-loss programme spent an average of just 14.6 minutes per day on the activity. Programme participants recorded the calories and fat for all foods and beverages they consumed, as well as the portion sizes and the preparation methods.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Vermont and the University of South Carolina, is the first to quantify the amount of time that dietary self-monitoring actually takes for those who successfully lose weight.

Participants who lost 10 percent of their body weight — the most successful members of the cohort — spent an average of 23.2 minutes per day on self-monitoring in the first month of the program. By the sixth month, the time had dropped to 14.6 minutes.

“Those who self-monitored three or more time per day, and were consistent day after day, were the most successful,” Harvey says. “It seems to be the act of self-monitoring itself that makes the difference – not the time spent or the details included.”

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