Logging for Weight Loss - How Much Time Does it Take?

If you want lose weight, research shows the single best predictor of success is monitoring and recording calorie and fat intake throughout the day - to "write it when you bite it.".

But losing weight doesn't have to take over your life - studies show it takes just 15 minutes a day to be successful!



Research published in the Obesity Journal suggests that the reality of dietary self-monitoring may be far less time consuming than the perception.

The study 'Log Often, Lose More' looked at how much time commitment is needed to lose 10% of your body weight, and it's much less than you think - about the time it takes to make a cuppa a few times a day.

Key Takeaways

  • Dietary self-monitoring takes less than 15 minutes a day
  • Frequency of logins most predictive of weight loss success
  • Successful losers log at least two thirds of the time (21 days out of a month)

Calorie counting for weight loss - how long does it take?

The study followed participants who were recording their calories and fat intake for all the foods and drinks they consumed for 6 months. Those who took part also recorded portion sizes and preparation methods.

The most successful people who took part spent an average of just 14.6 minutes a day logging.

"The question we had was: How much time does dietary self-monitoring really take? The answer is, not very much." - Jean Harvey (lead author), Chair of the Nutrition and Food Sciences Department at the University of Vermont

It's easy to think that logging your food intake and counting calories can be a bit demanding - this study is the first to measure how much time logging your food and drink actually takes for those who achieve significant weight loss.

'Log Often, Lose More' says study in Obesity Journal

The study looked at the dietary self-monitoring habits of 142 participants in an online behavioral weight control intervention which took place over 6 months.

Participants logged their daily food intake online, giving the researchers a record of how much time they spent on the activity and how often they logged in. This data was then analysed to determine how long those who lost weight actually spent on the activity.

Log Often, Lose More with Electronic Food Diaries

The most successful of the study were those who lost 10% or more of their body weight. They spent an average of 23.2 minutes per day on logging their calorie intake in the first month of the program, but by the month 6 the time had dropped to only 14.6 minutes per day.

Just 15 minutes a day needed to log your food and lose weight


Just a Few Minutes, 2-3 Times a Day...

Interestingly, the key predictor of successful weight-loss was not the time spent monitoring - those who took more time, giving more detail in their logging did not have better outcomes... It was, in fact, the frequency of log-ins which mattered most.

"Those who self-monitored three or more times per day, and were consistent day after day, were the most successful,"

Said Lead study author Jean Harvey...

"It seems to be the act of self-monitoring itself that makes the difference - not the time spent or the details included."

The most important contribution this research makes may be in helping those trying to lose weight set behavioral targets - commiting to just a few minutes, a few times a day.

Similar outcomes have also been seen when it comes to how often to step on the scales.


A few minutes, a few times a day for successful weight loss

"We know people do better when they have the right expectations... when we asked them to write down all their foods, we could never say how long it would take. Now we can."

Concluding her remarks on the research, Harvey made the point that self-monitoring is highly effective as a weight loss strategy, and it may be much easier than you'd expect.

"It's highly effective, and it's not as hard as people think!"

Calorie counting for weight loss - how long does it take?

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'Log Often, Lose More: Electronic Dietary Self-Monitoring for Weight Loss' - Obesity (Vol. 27, Iss:3)

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