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Three simple weight-loss strategies that work
July 13th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

Three simple weight-loss strategies that work

Cutting back on calories is the cornerstone of any successful weight-loss plan, but as dieters can attest, that's easier said than done.

So it's encouraging to learn that three simple strategies can provide a boost: Eat regular meals, write down everything you eat, and avoid restaurants and takeout at lunchtime.

These three habits were each linked to greater weight loss in a new study of 123 overweight and obese middle-aged women, all of whom managed to shed at least a few pounds over a one-year period.

Women who reliably ate breakfast, lunch and dinner lost an average of 11% of their body weight, compared to just 7% among women who skipped meals. (That's equivalent to a 5-foot, 6-inch woman who weighs 180 pounds losing 20 pounds instead of 13.)

Health.com: 25 ways to cut 500 calories a day

Methodically keeping a food journal was associated with losing roughly 4% more body weight. And women who never ate restaurant lunches lost 3% more body weight than those who did so at least once a week - probably due to super-size restaurant portions and less-than-healthy dishes, the researchers say.

"Knowing what you eat and controlling the portion sizes is key to any weight-loss diet," says Anne McTiernan, M.D., the senior author of the study and a diet and exercise specialist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle.

Strategies such as food journals are "about accountability," McTiernan adds.

Other behaviors in the study that appeared to boost weight loss included consuming fewer calories from fat and carbohydrates and weighing and measuring food portions.

Health.com: Little ways to lose big pounds

None of these findings was especially surprising. Doctors and dietitians have long touted the benefits of regular meals, food journals, and home cooking, but the new study is among the first to look at a wide range of weight-loss strategies and quantify which ones are most effective, McTiernan says.

Why does skipping meals backfire? It's not entirely clear, but research suggests missed meals can lead to snacking and overeating, and may even change the body's metabolism so that calories aren't used as efficiently. Skipping meals also may go hand in hand with other behaviors that can promote weightgain, such as eating on the go.

Although the three healthful habits highlighted in the study might seem straightforward, they may prove harder to follow in the real world than in the somewhat artificial setting of a clinical trial.

Health.com: 5 habits of highly successful dieters

The women in this study were all part of a larger trial looking at the effect of diet and exercise on hormones, and they received weight-loss guidance not always available to women struggling with weight issues on their own. This included meeting with a registered dietician and exercise physiologist and also learning how to read labels and count calories.

As it was, less than 5% of the study participants completed a food journal entry every day for the first six months of the study, as the researchers had asked.

The study findings were published today in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011


soundoff (218 Responses)
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    This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like 'Mixview' that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you're listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of "neighbors" will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune "Social" is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

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    The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod's. It works well, but isn't as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that's not an issue, but if you're planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod's larger screen and better browser may be important.

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    Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It's very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

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    Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass' favor.

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    If you're still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you'll know which is right for you.

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    This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like 'Mixview' that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you're listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of "neighbors" will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune "Social" is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

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    Sorry for the huge review, but I'm really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the excellent reviews some other people have written, will help you decide if it's the right choice for you.

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    The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod's. It works well, but isn't as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that's not an issue, but if you're planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod's larger screen and better browser may be important.

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    January 20, 2021 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.