Harvard Women's Health Watch

Diary, home meals keys to weight loss

Want to lose weight? Eat three meals a day, have those meals at home, and write down everything you've eaten, reports a study published online in the July Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The study included 123 overweight or obese women, ages 50 to 75, enrolled in a year-long diet and exercise study. Researchers discovered that

  • women who consistently kept a food diary lost about six pounds more than those who did not.

  • women who often skipped meals lost nearly eight fewer pounds than those who ate three meals a day.

  • women who ate out for lunch every week lost five fewer pounds than those who ate in.

This study suggests that eating out in restaurants (where it's harder to control portion sizes) and skipping meals (which may slow metabolism or cause you to eat more calories at your next meal) are counterproductive when you're trying to lose weight. On the other hand, keeping a food journal can help you shed pounds because it forces you to pay closer attention to the foods you're eating.

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