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Lose Twice the Weight by Tracking Your Food

Weight Loss News Flash

-- By Nicole Nichols, Health Educator
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You hear all the time that to lose weight, you should track what you eat. Well, a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that keeping a "food diary" may double your weight loss efforts.

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research kept tabs on 1,685 overweight and obese adults (men and women), whose average weight was 212 pounds. The researchers encouraged participants to adhere to a reduced-calorie, DASH eating plan and asked them record their daily food intake and exercise minutes.

After 20 weeks, the average weight loss was 13 pounds per person. But researchers discovered something else; the more participants recorded what they ate, the more weight they lost in the end. Participants who did not keep a food diary lost about 9 pounds over the course of the study, while those who recorded their food intake six or more days per week lost 18 pounds—twice as much as those who didn't track any food!

Action Sparked: If you've ever doubted that using SparkPeople's personalized Nutrition Tracker would help you lose weight, think again! At SparkPeople, we've always encouraged daily food and fitness tracking for people who want to lose weight, and this new study supports what we've been encouraging for years. By tracking your food, you become more accountable: If you know you're going to have to record that candy bar on your food tracker, you might think twice before eating it. Plus, SparkPeople's detailed food tracker shows you exactly what you're putting into your mouth so you can make better, more informed choices.

This isn't news to the millions of people who have lost weight by tracking their food and fitness minutes on SparkPeople.com. Each month, over five million people utilize SparkPeople's free tools, Community, and resources to get healthier. And every day, our members track more than one million foods on their free Nutrition Trackers, making SparkPeople.com's food tracker the most popular in the world! It works away from home, too: SparkPeople's Nutrition Trackers is available on web-enabled cell phones.

Do you know someone who would be interested in SparkPeople's free food diary and tools? Then Spread the Spark! Share this article by clicking the "Send This Article to a Friend" button below.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

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Member Comments

  • Ive been with sp for some time and found the only thing that works. Is to track when i quit i gain it back so stick with it - 10/15/2013 7:30:47 PM
  • I love tracking my food so I know if I went over or see did I eat enough. - 7/1/2013 9:22:57 AM
  • I really believe that tracking calories in vs. calories out is the best way to diet. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of creating calorie deficits everyday. Personally, I like to use the myfitnesspal app on my iPhone-it makes it so easy to track the foods I eat and the calories I burn, and makes it easier to stay on track!! - 5/29/2013 11:22:02 AM
  • Ive been tracking my meals and exercise for 3 years now and have lost 80lbs. Its great but I believe if I was not tracking I still would have lost the same weight. It was more of lifestyle changes I made. - 4/23/2013 9:13:11 PM
  • CHRISTINASP
    I just went to read the link for the original research. It seems that this research DOES NOT speak about 'counting calories' or using a food tracker like on SP.
    Quoting: ""Keeping a food diary doesn't have to be a formal thing. Just the act of scribbling down what you eat on a Post-It note, sending yourself e-mails tallying each meal, or sending yourself a text message will suffice. It's the process of reflecting on what you eat that helps us become aware of our habits, and hopefully change our behavior," says Keith Bachman, MD, a Weight Management Initiative member. " - 4/20/2013 12:54:36 PM
  • CHRISTINASP
    So, I wonder, did the participants only write down what they ate or did they track calories and nutrients? The article doesn't mention it.

    Also, it is very well possible that the persons who did not keep a record did not do so BECAUSE they weren't (very) good at sticking to the food plan. And those who were good at sticking to it had less of a problem tracking.
    So I'm not convinced that it is tracking leads to more weight loss.
    - 4/20/2013 12:50:36 PM
  • JOSCHEF
    I am completely convinced that recording the food you eat helps to loose weight. The reason I'm discouraged when I do it is that I often make my own recipes which are not easy to record in the programs. so I have to search the data base to input my recipe before I can begin to record it. It can take me 30 minutes to just get my recipe into the system. Has anyone else encountered this problem and how have you solved it? - 4/20/2013 8:40:49 AM
  • COSFORD
    I finally bought a tablet so when travelling I can keep track of food in the food tracker. Keeping track by writing it down is the only way to go, it is too easy to cheat when you are not writing it down. - 4/20/2013 8:21:44 AM
  • My personal experience has been that it's an indispensable tool. I had done Weight Watchers for many years and never tracked, at least not accurately and consistently. And guess what? I always gained all the weight back and then some. Once I started using SparkPeople's trackers, I not only lost the weight but I've also kept it off for more than a year now. I have little sense of correct portions, even after three consistent years, and will easily let them creep if I'm not on top of things. Is tracking a pain? Yes, sometimes. Is it worth spending the time each day to weigh, measure and log my food to make sure I don't end up at 260 pounds ever again? ABSOLUTELY! Of course there are other factors that have come into play, but tracking has been one very important piece of my weight loss success puzzle. - 4/20/2013 5:28:42 AM
  • GLORIAJCURIA
    Just started today. so excited..... plan to lose 50 lbs by October 7th this year wish me luck.... - 4/15/2013 10:52:10 AM
  • I track, but what I need to change with tracking is(eyeballing it) I am committed to weigh and measure so I know I am headed in the direction I want to go. I find the tracking here on Sparkpeople user friendly + I get loads of nutritional information. - 1/30/2013 2:39:29 PM
  • FP4HLOSER
    I tend to start obsessing about food MORE when I track. Not sure it has been a good thing. Just depends on the individual. - 12/26/2012 1:03:14 PM
  • I find the food tracker doesn't help me if I'm making/cooking my own food. I'm now making my own calorie counter for the foods I use, getting details from http://www.acalor
    iecounter.com (free, so I hope this doesn't count as advertising)
    Takes time, but then saves time as I fill in what I need. - 8/16/2012 12:03:32 PM
  • The tracker can work as a menu planner. I found it helpful to plan the whole day down to the snacks on the tracker. It was freeing to see that I can have that snack. It was much easier for me. My friend plans her next day. She has lost a lot of weight. If it wasnt on the plan I didnt eat it. I was satisfied. I need to listen to my own advice. This helped me to not have the paranoid thing about food. I tend to do worse when I am thinking about every bite. - 8/9/2012 8:02:48 AM
  • I firmly believe this! You really do start taking more responsibility for what you eat if you know that you have to record it, and the sooner that you record it, the more you consider what and how much you eat. Recording foods and seeing the caloric and health impact has made a huge difference in my diet and overall lifestyle. Once I started recording my foods and asking if I really wanted to record that food, the weight started to come off. - 8/5/2012 8:31:19 PM