I found this really interesting. It’s about dietary tracking, ie, journaling your food intake.
Here’s what the researchers who conducted a 49-week study had to say:
“After controlling for initial body mass index, hemoglobin A1c, and gender, only consistent trackers had significant weight loss.”
“Rare and inconsistent trackers lost weight initially but did not sustain it over time.”
“However, consistent dietary trackers could sustain weight loss over time. In other words, these individuals did not experience the cyclical fluctuations and maintained a consistent weight loss over time.”
“In terms of predicting weight loss, individuals who consistently track 5 or more days a week were successful in losing and sustaining weight loss over the course of the year.”
– In this study, only the participants who tracked their dietary intake 5 or more days per week lost significant weight and KEPT IT OFF.
Here’s some more:
“Despite potential challenges to eating healthy during holidays, those who consistently maintained their food journal and tracked their calories and fat intake did not experience an increase in weight over the holidays, indicating that consistent tracking may act as a protective factor to the challenges of following a healthy lifestyle during the holidays.”
Being mindful of your eating and diligent with tracking can even keep you from gaining weight over the holiday season. That’s solid.
“Participants were assigned with a health coach (HC) who worked one on one with them throughout the program to identify threats to their plans and goals and to develop and review coping strategies.”
So, Health Coaching works. I mean, coaching works in general, whether you’re talking about soccer, violin, or learning a language, so this shouldn’t be a surprise.
“An 8-week study by Wharton et al. found that those who tracked with mobile phone application tracked more days than those who tracked with either pen and paper or the memo pad on their phone.”
Right, so digital phone apps produced more consistency than pen and paper. Makes sense.
More research is ALWAYS needed. But it’s very encouraging.
Also, weight loss and health improvement are context-dependent and person-dependent. Permanent weight loss is challenging, takes TIME, and is impacted by a lot of factors, some of which may be beyond our control (genetics, medical conditions, etc.), so simply tracking your food isn’t the solution.
But, combined with a research-supported nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle approach, tracking can be VERY impactful.
As a side note, tracking may not be a great idea for people who have experienced disordered eating in the past. That said, a randomized, controlled study indicated that dietary tracking didn’t seem to be a factor in disordered eating, but you never know. I think it’s best to be cautious. So, if you feel like dietary tracking might not be a great idea for you, talk to your Registered Dietitian, doctor, or mental health specialist before doing it!
Overall, I think this information is noteworthy. It’s not a promise, it’s not a panacea, but it’s very encouraging and tracks with my personal experience coaching people.
“In summary, dietary tracking was found to be an important component of successful weight loss, with those who tracked at least 5 days of each week showing significant and sustained weight loss over time as compared to those who tracked fewer days or inconsistently during the program. Consistent tracking is a significant predictor of weight loss.”
Exciting stuff, at least for a geek like me. And I’m confident that we’ll see more and more information like this emerge and research increases.
Reach out if you’d like information about our new Whole Health Nutrition Club, which includes evidence-based nutrition, exercise and health approaches, dietary tracking through a phone app, group chat, goal setting, and weekly check-ins. In short, it’s a coaching program that does everything in this post.
Membership Director, NBHWC Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach