Discover the Power of Food Tracking

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 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'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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Member Comments

Interesting article. And coincidentally, just this a.m. I decided to start tracking. Mainly because tho I've been working really hard at better eating, and I know I'm doing better, my weight loss has been glacially slow. Or it stands still. Or regresses. So I want to be able to look over my tracking and pinpoint where the problem is. Report
You made me think of a few things while I read ; you match a lot of how I think. Report
Everything in range yesterday and today. Using Spark nutrition tracker. Report
I don't like tracking but it works, so I will continue to do it. Report
good points Report
When I track, I am successful.......
..when I don't............
............! Report
I've tried tracking. It doesn't work for me. It makes me focus on food, which makes me hungry and irritable and thinking too much on what I want to eat. When I focus on food, I eat too much. Report
As someone said, tracking rules. Sometimes you have to do some research to be sure of the calories, proteins, carbs, etc. if you can't find it on SparkPeople. By being honest on the tracker you can see exactly how you are doing, whether you are eating healthy or not. Report
I have been planning and tracking for many years. It not only keeps me on track, but saves me time, money and grief. Report
Main thing is to stay honest. You are not fooling anyone except yourself if you don't mark down everything. Report
It definitely forces you to see things in black and white and act on what you see! Report
I can say from experience that this is very true. If you don't see it in print you will easily slip into rationalization that you didn't really eat that much. Entering everything you eat is extremely difficult and time consuming even though the Sparkpeople Nutrition Tracker is one of the best I have ever seen. There are many days I just can't get to it. The good news is the more you do it the easier it gets because your personal data gets larger and your knowledge of how and where to find the food you looking for expands, so it takes less time as time goes by. Report
Though I hate tracking, I recognize it's the most valuable tool in weight loss and maintenance. Report
Great article! Report
Fantastic article! Report
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols
Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.
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