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Food Diary Works for Weight Loss


Updated June 07, 2014

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What is the most effective tool you can use to lose weight? A study suggests that keeping a food diary leads to more weight loss.

Keep a Food Diary and Lose More Weight

A study of 1,700 dieters found that those who were faithful to tracking their food in a food diary lost twice as much weight as those who weren't. The study included both men and women. Those who kept a food diary lost an average of 18 pounds in six months, compared to 9 pounds for those who were in the same program and didn't keep a diet diary. All participants received counseling and participated in moderate intensity exercise.

What Is a Food Diary?

A food diary can be as simple as writing down everything you eat.
  • Simple Food Diary: Write down everything you eat. Estimate how much you ate -- a cup of rice, two slices of bread, etc.
  • Food Diary Categorizing Food: As you become more familiar with food groups from the food pyramid, you can categorize foods and track portions of of protein, starches, vegetables and fruits. Our simple printable food diary lets you track your food in this way.
  • Food Diary with Calories and Nutrition Content: You can estimate calories by categorizing food, but that becomes more difficult if you eat combination foods such as casseroles, sandwiches, or when dining out. Online food diaries can allow you to pick from lists of foods and provide both calorie and nutrition content, totaling it for the day. Our free online tools at Calorie Count allow you to keep a personal food and exercise diary online, or to get a calorie estimate for foods you enter onto your paper food diary. Calorie Count also has mobile options to get get calorie counts by text message, mobile web or phone app.

Get Started with the Walk of Life Program

Our free 10-week Walk of Life Program encourages you to keep a food and exercise diary while building healthy eating and exercise habits.
Walk of Life 10-Week Program

Jack F. Hollis, PhD, et. al. "Weight Loss During the Intensive Intervention Phase of the Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial" American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Volume 35, Issue 2, Pages 118-126 (August 2008).

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