Tips for weight-loss success

by Jennifer Bowden / 03 January, 2013
Decided to lose weight this year? Here are some tips to help you succeed.
Tips for weight-loss success
Photo/Thinkstock


Many people will start 2013 with good intentions, often centred on losing weight. So, how to translate a weight-loss resolution into achieving a healthy weight? Three basic diet strategies were found to improve the chance of weight-loss success, according to a 2012 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A group of 123 postmenopausal overweight and obese women were randomly assigned to either a diet or a diet-plus-exercise weight-loss regime for a year. They completed multiple questionnaires about eating-related weight-control strategies, self-monitoring behaviours and meal patterns. Although both groups lost an average of 10% of their initial weight, researchers noted key behaviours were associated with greater weight loss.

For starters, women who kept food journals consistently lost more weight – about 2.7kg more. “It’s difficult to make changes to your diet when you aren’t paying close attention to what you’re eating,” said Anne McTiernan, principal investigator on the study. Hence McTiernan’s No 1 piece of weight-loss advice is to keep a food journal. They are also useful for looking at the overall health of your diet.

The best food journal is one you’ll actually use, and it need not be fancy. A pad and pen will suit some people, but others may prefer a program that can be accessed through a smartphone. (See “There’s an app for fat”, June 30, 2012, for more about MyFitness Pal’s free calorie counter and food diary app – a program rated highly by the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.)

Still, a food journal is only as good as the information entered into it. As the old computer-science adage says, garbage in, garbage out. The following tips, provided to the study participants, will help ensure your journal is accurate and therefore useful:

  • Be honest – record everything you eat.

  • Be accurate – measure portions, read labels.

  • Be complete – include details such as how the food was prepared, and the addition of toppings or condiments.

  • Be consistent – always carry your food diary or use a diet-tracking application on your smartphone.


Successful dieters also ate at regular intervals and didn’t skip meals; women who skipped meals lost 3.6 fewer kilograms. Said McTiernan, “The mechanism isn’t completely clear, but we think skipping meals or fasting might cause you to respond more favourably to high-calorie foods and therefore take in more calories overall.”

New research, presented at the 2012 Society for Neuroscience conference, appears to confirm this theory. British researchers compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of 21 people on two days, the first when participants hadn’t eaten anything in the morning and again when they’d eaten breakfast.

When the fasting participants were shown pictures of high-energy foods, their MRI scans revealed increased activity in the orbito frontal cortex region of the brain – an area associated with decisions about the pleasantness and reward-value of food. The researchers could then predict, based on the scans, which individuals would eat more high-energy foods at the subsequent lunch provided to participants.

So, fasting or missing meals appear to make people hungrier and to create a heightened desire to seek high-calorie food rewards and eat more overall.

Eating out frequently, particularly at lunchtime, was also associated with less weight loss. Those who regularly ate out lost 2.3 fewer kilograms. When you’re eating out, it’s hard to comprehend or control the amount of added fats and sugar in a meal. We also have no control over portion size – and the larger the portion, the more we inevitably eat.

To improve your chances of success, faithfully keep a food journal, avoid skipping meals and avoid eating out often in restaurants, especially at lunchtime. And consider joining a group-based weight-loss programme, too. A 2012 study in the journal Obesity found they produced better results than going it alone.

Email: nutrition@listener.co.nz, or write to “Nutrition”, c/o Listener, PO Box 90783, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142.
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Work visas for New Zealand hit an all-time high
76950 2017-07-26 07:41:55Z Economy

Work visas for New Zealand hit an all-time high

by Mei Heron

The number of work visas issued in New Zealand has hit an all-time high and the number will keep rising, according to the government.

Read more
Why Paula Bennett is trouble for the National Party
76812 2017-07-26 00:00:00Z Politics

Why Paula Bennett is trouble for the National Part…

by Graham Adams

With the solo-mum-to-Cabinet humblebrag getting old, and not enough attention paid to her portfolios, the Deputy PM is now a liability for National.

Read more
Smuggled stories of totalitarianism from North Korea
76852 2017-07-26 00:00:00Z Books

Smuggled stories of totalitarianism from North Kor…

by James Robins

The Accusation has sparse and simple stories of ordinary people caught up in North Korea’s regime.

Read more
A ride-on mower made me the man I've always wanted to be
76810 2017-07-26 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

A ride-on mower made me the man I've always wanted…

by Greg Dixon

Aucklander-gone-countryman Greg Dixon fulfills his lifelong obsession: owning a ride-on mower.

Read more
Media warned over 'carte blanche' use of social media posts
76909 2017-07-25 13:31:44Z Social issues

Media warned over 'carte blanche' use of social me…

by Max Towle

“Just because it’s viral, doesn’t mean it should be broadcast as news.”

Read more
Win a double pass to The Dinner
76907 2017-07-25 12:21:03Z Win

Win a double pass to The Dinner

by The Listener

The Dinner is based on the international best-seller by Herman Koch, which follows two successful couples over one evening.

Read more
Boris Johnson: NZ 'great exporter of human capital'
76870 2017-07-25 09:47:44Z Politics

Boris Johnson: NZ 'great exporter of human capital…

by RNZ

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says NZ is a great exporter of human capital to the UK and he wants to ensure Kiwis can "come and go" freely.

Read more
Council snoops are cracking down on wood fires – that's bonkers
76790 2017-07-25 00:00:00Z Social issues

Council snoops are cracking down on wood fires – t…

by Bill Ralston

Anything that deters people from keeping their homes warm over winter is dumb.

Read more