Keep a food diary, avoid eating lunch outside and don't skip meals- researchers say that these three pointers can help postmenopausal women lose weight and keep weight off.
"When it comes to weight loss, evidence from randomized, controlled trials comparing different diets finds that restricting total calories is more important than diet composition such as low-fat versus low-carbohydrate. Therefore, the specific aim of our study was to identify behaviors that supported the global goal of calorie reduction," said McTiernan, director of the Hutchinson Center's Prevention Center and a member of its Public Health Sciences Division.
Researchers say that women keen on losing weight should always write down what they are eating in a food diary so that they can keep track of their food habits.
"For individuals who are trying to lose weight, the No. 1 piece of advice based on these study results would be to keep a food journal to help meet daily calorie goals. It is difficult to make changes to your diet when you are not paying close attention to what you are eating," said McTiernan.
The research study included 123 obese or overweight women between the ages of 50 and 75. These participants were kept on either a diet only regimen or a diet and exercise regimen. Over a period of a year, participants in both groups lost weight. During the course of the study, participants were taught how to measure calories in food and were also asked to maintain a log of whatever they ate.
Researchers found that women who keep a record of their food lost more weight (12.8 percent of their body weight) compared to women who didn't keep a diary (8.2 percent of body weight).
"We think our findings are promising because it shows that basic strategies such as maintaining food journals, eating out less often and eating at regular intervals are simple tools that postmenopausal women – a group commonly at greater risk for weight gain – can use to help them lose weight successfully," McTiernan said.
Don't skip meals.
Researchers say that it is unhealthy to skip meals because starving will make you want to eat foods that are high in calories.
"The mechanism is not completely clear, but we think that skipping meals or fasting might cause you to respond more favorably to high-calorie foods and therefore take in more calories overall. We also think skipping meals might cluster together with other behaviors. For instance, the lack of time and effort spent on planning and preparing meals may lead a person to skip meals and/or eat out more," she said.
Eat at Home
Eating out will add more inches to your waist because you can't control portion size and ingredients at restaurants.
"Eating in restaurants usually means less individual control over ingredients and cooking methods, as well as larger portion sizes," the authors wrote.