Willpower Alone Won't Help You Lose Weight
    By News Staff | January 12th 2010 12:00 AM | 3 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    While exerting willpower is an important part of losing weight, new evidence suggests that their may be more to successful dieting than simply trying to eat less. Cognitive scientists from Indiana University and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin have found that the perceived complexity of diets themselves can also have a big influence on the pounds shed. Their research was published in the journal Appetite.
    The study examined both the objective and subjective complexity of two diet plans. Brigitte, the cognitively simpler of the two, is a popular German recipe diet that provides shopping lists for the dieters, thus requiring participants to simply follow the provided meal plan. Weight Watchers assigns point values to every food and instructs participants to eat only a certain number of points per day.

    The 390 women involved were recruited from German-language Internet chat rooms dealing with weight management and were already in the midst of using one of the two diet plans. They answered questionnaires at the beginning, mid-point and end of an eight-week period. The researchers compared the dieting behavior of the women following the two radically different diet plans and found that the more complicated participants thought their diet plan was, the sooner they were likely to drop it.

    "For people on a more complex diet that involves keeping track of quantities and items eaten, their subjective impression of the difficulty of the diet can lead them to give up on it," reported Peter Todd, professor in IU's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

    This effect holds even after controlling for the influence of important social-cognitive factors including self-efficacy, the belief that one is capable of achieving a goal like sticking to a diet regimen to control one's weight. "Even if you believe you can succeed, thinking that the diet is cognitively complex can undermine your efforts," said lead author Jutta Mataa.

    Dieting is not all in one's head -- environment matters, too, the team says. The physical environment has to be set up properly, such as putting snack foods out of sight to avoid mindless eating. But the cognitive environment, they say, must also be appropriately constructed, by choosing diet rules that that one finds easy to remember and follow.

    For people interested in following a diet plan, Mata suggests they take a look at several diet plans with an eye toward how many rules the plans have and how many things need to be how many things need to be kept in mind.

    "If they decide to go with a more complex diet, which could be more attractive for instance if it allows more flexibility, they should evaluate how difficult they find doing the calculations and monitoring their consumption," she said. "If they find it very difficult, the likelihood that they will prematurely give up the diet is higher and they should try to find a different plan."

    While losing weight initially isn't rocket science, keeping it off remains a challenge to dieters. It generally is believed that the longer people can adhere to their diet plan, the more successful they will be long-term with their weight loss maintenance. And the more like rocket science one's diet plan feels, Todd and Mata report, the less likely that long-term adherence and maintenance is to succeed.

    Citation: Jutta Mataa, Peter M. Todd, Sonia Lippked, 'When weight management lasts: Lower perceived rule complexity increases adherence', Appetite, 2009; doi:10.1016/j.appet.2009.09.004


    I agree, If you can resist certain foods and force yourself to exercise at least four days a week, it shouldn't be hard to loose weight. When your start breaking those habits then you run into trouble.

    Each day, readfood nutrition labels and drink enough water. Our health is our most important asset. For many people, being overweight is associated with being uncomfortable in their own skin. To assist with weight control; keep a daily food journal and every time the urge to snack is felt, first drink a large glass of clear water. This simple act will help you to eat less. Water will soon become one of your best friends. The major reason so many people in America are overweight is because we eat too much for comfort! It does not hurt to treat ourselves with something special once in a while, what is necessary is that we limit our portions and do not overeat! It is also necessary to keep our body properly hydrated, so drink a full glass of water with each meal or snack. Being overweight ******, but after reading a book, I lost 85 pounds! Words can not express how good I feel! This is a comment which I recently received about the book Lose Weight Using Four Easy Steps

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I truly believe the only way to have success during your diet plan is if it is something you are willing to stick with for a lifetime. I have started working out everyday and counting my calories and it has been like a miracle for me. I am noticing so many changes.

    I have found this website that allows you to track your calories. I hope it helps.