Monitoring your food intake is a pretty tried-and-true strategy for weight loss. After all, the idea that you can’t outrun a poor diet suggests looking to what you eat if losing body fat is one of your primary goals. If the thought of tracking what you eat fills you with dread, you’re not alone; meticulously measuring portion sizes and tracking nutritional content can sound like a real time suck. Researchers have found, however, it may not be as big of a commitment as you think.
A new study out of the University of Vermont and the University of South Carolina found that for successful weight loss, which they deemed as losing 10 percent of their body weight or more, participants only had to use food-monitoring apps for 15 minutes per day or less.
Study participants logged how much food they ate, their portion sizes, and cooking methods over a six-month program. Researchers found the subjects that lost weight got quicker at tracking their food intake. When participants started out, the self-monitoring process took up about 23.2 minutes per day, but by the end of the program, the average minutes dropped to 14.6.
Scientists also found consistency is key. Frequency of logging food online was more important for weight loss than the duration of time spent logging food. The more often participants logged in to track their food, the more likely they were to lose weight.
If this all still sounds daunting, we’ve got the tips to make your experience using food tracking apps like MyFitnessPal or Lose It! a much more pleasant one. Set realistic goals for yourself and understand that not every single day will be perfect. If you keep forgetting to use the app, use your calendar or an alarm on your phone to remind you to log your meals. You could also make it a social thing by either using an app that allows you to connect with friends or just finding a buddy to tackle it together. Take each day as it comes, and know you’re one step closer to your goal.