Everyone knows it can take some time to lose weight, especially if you're aiming for a total body transformation. But what if we told you that the most effective weight-loss strategy took less than 15 minutes per day? According to recent research, that just might be the case.
A March 2019 study published in Obesity looked at the dietary self-monitoring habits of 142 people, all of whom were participating in an online behavioral weight-control intervention with weekly online meetings led by a dietician. For a period of six months, all of these participants recorded the calories and fat content for all foods and drinks they consumed per day. They also included the portion sizes of their meals and how their food was prepared. The monitoring process took place online, and participants left a record behind of how much time they spent on the activity and how often they logged in — info that the researchers were eager to explore.
"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?" said lead author Jean Harvey, in a press release. "The answer is, not very much."
As it turned out, the most successful participants — who lost 10 percent of their body weight — spent an average of only 14.6 minutes per day on their dietary self-monitoring. While this process took a bit longer for them during the first month (23.2 minutes per day), the time spent had dropped significantly by the time the sixth month had rolled around.
Researchers said that the biggest predictor of success while using this weight-loss strategy was the frequency of times participants logged in.
"Those who self-monitored three or more time per day, and were consistent day after day, were the most successful," said Harvey. "It seems to be the act of self-monitoring itself that makes the difference, not the time spent or the details included."
If you're interested in trying this weight-loss strategy for yourself, you'll be happy to know that you have plenty of options. A separate weight-loss study recently showed that participants who tracked their food intake and their weight daily on the popular app MyFitnessPal shed "clinically significant" amounts of weight.
Other popular weight-loss apps include the options Lose It and Calorie King. While some folks might find it most convenient to turn to a smartphone app or a computer program, there's nothing stopping you from recording your dietary intake with paper and pen if you prefer that method.