You’ve heard about it, read about it, but to be quite frank, you never – ever – even considered it, right? That’s okay – seems we’re all pretty clueless when it comes to the mechanisms of successful weight loss…

Evidence that it works
What’s the key component for shedding extra weight? Well, according to new research conducted at the University of Kentucky and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, motivation and keeping a journal of what you eat should do the trick.

How so?
"Motivation has an impact on weight loss but the impact is really mediated by adherence to self-monitoring," said Kelly H. Webber, an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky.

"If you are going to self-monitor your diet and exercise every day you are going to lose more weight”, she added.

Webber, who along with her colleagues reported the findings in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, said the best way to self-monitor is to keep a journal of everything you eat and how much you exercise.

The study

The researchers studied two types of motivation, autonomous and controlled, during a 16-week weight loss programme involving 66 overweight women.
*Autonomous motivation is driven by personal reasons, while controlled motivation is based more on pressure from others and feelings of guilt.

The findings
They found that dieters who were self motivated and who kept a journal tended to be more successful.

"People who actually write down everything they eat and drink during the weight loss programme are going to do better. And that is probably why commercial programmes like Weight Watchers are very successful," noted Webber.

Agree with Webber? Do food journals work? Share your thoughts, tips and suggestions in the box below.