Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Best Weight Loss Tools - Keeping a Weight Loss Journal

Did you know that keeping a weight loss journal was one of the best weight loss tools you can find? Most people think they are eating less calories on a day to day basis than they actually are. They don't pay much attention to portion size or how many calories are in each little snack they eat. Keeping a food diary for weight loss forces you to be honest and add up those calories.

My most successful weight loss efforts involved keeping a weight loss journal. I listed everything I ate, my measurements and current weight, how much exercise I got and other little tidbits. My problem is, I usually love snacks throughout the day and those calories add up more than I realized. After writing down all the food I ate, I saw where I could cut unnecessary calories and in 6 months, I'd lost 12 pounds!

Researchers at Louisiana State University asked dietitians to estimate their daily caloric intake — and even the professionals underestimated the calories by 10%. This might explain why losing weight is so difficult for most of us.

You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat. No matter what diet plan or program you adhere to, that is the basic fact. Cut 3,500 calories from your diet, or cut calories and increase exercise to burn those calories and you will lose weight. A weight loss diary can be a good place to record the exercise you do to help burn those calories as well.

One aerobics class can burn 500 calories. If you also cut 500 calories from your diet, then you will lose one pound a week.

Before you try using the weight loss journal to lose pounds, try recording what you normally eat for a few days and add up the calories. You may be amazed at what you see and how many calories you are actually consuming. You'll also see easy places to cut calories, like smaller portions, switching to fat free versions of products or choosing lower calorie snacks.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research followed more than 2,000 dieters who were encouraged to keep a food journal and they discovered that those who did keep the weight loss diary, lost the most weight by far. Weight loss journals beat out exercise and even age as factors in losing those pounds. The number of pounds people lost was directly related to the number of days they recorded their calories in their weight loss journal.

Here's why keeping a weight loss journal really helps you shed those pounds:

1. Studies show most Americans underestimate their daily calorie intake by 25%. A food journal gives you a reality check. You also have to pay more attention to portion size. If you have a bowl of cereal, you might estimate 200 calories for it. But if you measure the amount of cereal in your bowl, plus the milk and sugar, if you use it, you may be adding 500 calories to your day.

2. Portion sizes are much smaller than you might think. In our super-size it mentality, we like to see our plates heaping high with food but this serving may be triple the calories you are estimating. Keeping a weight loss journal forces you to keep better track of portion size when figuring calories.

3. Keeping a weight loss diary puts an end to between meal munching. Or at least you will choose lower calorie options. Many people can't even remember what sorts of snacks they ate in the past few days, let alone estimate the calories consumed. Writing it all down lets you know where you can cut to save unwanted and unnecessary calories.

It’s easy to overlook taking a taste of potatoes from your hubby's plate or that "tiny" handful of nuts you popped in your mouth. Consider this - there are about 25 calories on average in each mouthful of food so a few little bites can add up.

4. Keeping a food diary for weight loss helps you chose better food options. If you know you'll have to record that 450 calories fancy latte, you will find yourself choosing the skinny version with 50 calories. If you want a snack, chips and salsa will add up quickly, whereas, you can eat a lot of carrot sticks and yogurt dip for many less calories.

If you aren't sure how many calories there are in a given food, check out some calorie counting websites. There are websites that even tell you how many calories there are in fast food and restaurant foods.

Due to a lot of time spent traveling recently, I found that the pounds had once more crept up on me. I just purchased a weight loss journal that I like a lot. It had 60 days worth of pages to count calories, write down exercise, measurements, weight and more. It also has great weight loss recipes, calories for common foods, how many calories burned for different activities and lots of weight loss tips and advice. This book is called The 60 Day Food and Fitness Program & Journal.

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