Studies have shown the keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss1. It doesn’t seem to matter if you track calories or points. The key seems to be acknowledging what you’re eating.
I’ve found that to be true in my own weight loss. I’m less likely to indulge in that piece of cake if I know I’m going to have to be held accountable for it on paper. The trick can be figuring out how to keep a food diary for weight loss.
My Fitness Pal
Since I am online a lot, I really enjoy using My Fitness Pal to track my food. The benefits include:
- The calories are calculated for me.
- The site keeps track of my frequently eaten foods so that I don’t have to look them up every time.
- I can copy meals from a previous day if I’m eating the same food.
- I can save frequently eaten foods as a meal so that I don’t have to input each food separately.
- I can input my own recipes and have the calories calculated for me.
- There is an app, so I can track my food on my phone if I’m not online.
- I can accept friend requests from other users for accountability and a little healthy competition.
- My Fitness Pal syncs with many popular activity tracking devices, such as my Fitbit, so I don’t have to input my activity manually.
The only con that I’ve really discovered with My Fitness Pal is that it can be time-consuming to look up and add foods that aren’t used often. It’s also difficult to track foods when you’re having a wide variety of foods whose ingredients you may not know, such as our weekly small group meetings for church.
To be fair, though, those sorts of food situations are difficult to track no matter what method you may be using to log food. My Fitness Pal does offer an option to guesstimate the calories. So instead of trying to log each individual food, you could input x-number of calories for the meal, with no food details.
Fitbook is a physical 12-week food and exercise journal and my favorite of those I’ve tried. It has room for:
- Daily and weekly goals
- Starting and ending body measurements
- Exercise log with space for strength training, cardio, exercise class, and flexibility
- Food log, which includes nutrient tracker, water consumption, and hours of sleep
- Weekly Wrap Up for assessing how you did and where you want to improve
One of the benefits of the Fitbook is that you can be as detailed as you like with whatever tracking method you may be using. You can just list the foods you ate, but there is room for notes, too, if you want to list calories or points.
In addition to the Fitbook and My Fitness Pal, I have tracked my food just using a composition book. I found it interesting that the article I read said that writing your foods on a Post-It note or sending yourself a text or email was just as effective as other means of logging your food. It’s the point of being accountable that is important. So, using a composition book works, too!
With something like a composition book, you can decide what’s important to you to track. Obviously, you want to write down whatever you’re eating, but you can also decide what else you want to focus on for the day, week or month.
Do you want to try to eat more fruits and veggies? Track that. Maybe you want to drink more water. Just make yourself some tally marks. Do you want to focus on being more active? Jot that in your book.
Which method is best for logging your food? The one you’ll use consistently. No matter how you track your food, the key is to do it consistently and honestly. If you aren’t logging everything you’re eating, you’re only deceiving yourself and you’re not going to see the results you want to see.
Yes, I read that last line aloud to myself. I needed to hear it as much as the next person because tracking has been an area of struggle for me. Even way back in my Weight Watcher days, I remember stating in a meeting that I always saw the best results when I was consistently tracking my food. It is one of the best methods of personal accountability in weight-loss.
Do you track your food? What’s your favorite food logging tool?
For those who are wondering, I decided that, while I definitely want and need the accountability of posting weekly fitness updates, they were getting kind of boring. Because I want to provide inspiration for as many people as possible, I thought I’d change the format to a general health and fitness post and include my personal update at the end.
My Weekly Fitness Update: I have done better logging my food this week. I made myself a big note on my planner to start Sunday. So far, so good.
I went shopping for new jeans this weekend since all but one pair from last year are too snug. Just being real. It’s frustrating and I’m working on it, but I still have to have clothes until I get back to where I want to be. I didn’t have to go up as far in size as I was afraid I was going to have to, so I consider that a win.
How are you doing on your health and fitness goals?
1 Source: Science Daily.