Massage therapists are the athletes of the health care world, standing, bending, leaning and pressing for hours each day. As such, keeping in great physical shape is paramount.

New research from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center suggests people who want to lose weight should faithfully keep a food journal, and avoid skipping meals and eating in restaurants—especially at lunch.

Recent, unrelated research shows the trend toward overweight is not slowing down and by 2020 a majority of U.S. adults will be overweight, with more than half of of them suffering from diabetic conditions.

“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,” researcher Anne McTiernan, M.D., said.

Specifically, the research found:

• Women who kept food journals consistently lost about 6 pounds more than those who did not;

• Women who reported skipping meals lost almost 8 fewer pounds than women who did not;

• Women who ate out for lunch at least weekly lost on average 5 fewer pounds than those who ate out less frequently. (Eating out often at all meal times was associated with less weight loss, but the strongest association was observed with lunch.)

“For individuals who are trying to lose weight, the number-one piece of advice based on these study results would be to keep a food journal to help meet daily calorie goals,” said McTiernan. “It is difficult to make changes to your diet when you are not paying close attention to what you are eating,”

The findings, from the first study to look at the impact of a wide range of self-monitoring and diet-related behaviors and meal patterns on weight change among overweight and obese postmenopausal women, are published online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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