Could A Food Diary Be The Most Effective Weight Loss Tool?

Could A Food Diary Be The Most Effective Weight Loss Tool?

A recent study confirms what nutritional therapists have been encouraging their patients to do for decades…keep a food diary!


Recording what you eat might not seem like rocket science but although it’s a simple thing to do the results in relation to weight loss are quite outstanding. According to the largest and longest running weight loss trials ever conducted, keeping a food diary can double an individual’s weight loss.

The trial which was co-ordinated by the Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research and funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institute of Health in America, took place over a period of 6 months.

The study included nearly 1,700 participants of which 44% were African Americans. Evidence suggests that this ethnic group have a higher risk of health conditions that are exacerbated by being overweight, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In addition to keeping a food diary, the participants were asked to follow a heart healthy eating regime known as the DASH diet, which includes generous portions of fruit and vegetables and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. Additionally they were invited to attend weekly group support sessions and include 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise.

Weight loss results were higher than in previous similar trials with an average loss of 13 pounds per person after the 6 month period. What was most surprising was that the more food records individuals kept, the greater their weight loss and for those who kept daily records, weight loss doubled compared to those who didn’t write down their intake.

It seems that something as simple as documenting what you eat helps you to consume fewer calories. Furthermore it doesn’t have to be a detailed account, something as simple as sending yourself a text message or an email tallying each meal, or scribbling down what you eat on a Post-It note can help you to reflect on what you eat. This process of mindfulness with regard to eating can help you to identify your eating habits and hopefully change your behaviour.

Successful weight loss is not the only positive outcome, according to earlier studies, the benefits to health of losing the amount of weight seen in this trial or even as little as 5 pounds can reduce the risk of high blood pressure by 20%.

This study is proof that no matter how hard some people think it is to lose weight with the right tools it can be an achievable goal for anyone.


Kaiser Permanente. "Keeping A Food Diary Doubles Diet Weight Loss, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 July 2008. [accessed 26.11.17]

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