Calories, kilojoules, serving sizes, portions, food matching… Losing weight can be a confusing business.
But there could be a new diet trend that takes out all the calculations and confusion and it’s as simple as counting bites.
A study at Brigham Young University in the US found people who counted bites over a month’s time lost around nine kilograms over the month, which is around what the US Centre for Disease Control recommends for “healthy” weight loss.
Those in the pilot test counted the number of bites they took each day then committed to taking 20 to 30 per cent fewer bites over the next four weeks. Participants who stuck with the task saw results despite changing nothing else about their eating and exercising routine.
“This study confirms what we already knew: consuming less food makes a difference,” said lead study author Josh West. “We’re not advocating people starve themselves, what we’re talking about is people eating less than they’re currently eating.”
The researchers say that, as a matter of priority, people who are overweight need to be more focused on how much they are eating, before focusing on what they are eating.
Their experiment asked 61 participants to count daily the number of times they lifted food to their mouth and the number of gulps of liquids, other than water. At the end of each day, the subjects texted or emailed their totals to researchers.
The 41 test subjects who finished the experiment produced encouraging results, Crookston said, but there is more research needed to validate this strategy for long-term success.
“We felt pretty good about how much weight they lost given the relatively short span of the study,” he said. “Now we need to follow up to see if they keep it off, or if they lose more weight.”
Researchers said those who didn’t finish the study had a hard time keeping up with counting bites. As a solution, researchers worked with the computer science teams and a local startup to develop an app that tracks your bites for wearable devices such Apple’s SmartWatch
The researchers believe counting bites is a doable, cost-effective option people who are overweight.
“We’re consuming considerably more calories than we did a generation ago or two generations ago; at the same time we’re much less active,” they said.
“The good news is that you don’t have to be extreme calorie cutting. Even a 20 per cent reduction in bites makes a difference.”
Do you struggle with your weight? Could you give this a go?