The answer is yes! According to the following randomized controlled trials, clients who were more successful in losing weight and keeping weight off were significantly more consistent with self-monitoring (keeping a journal).
Lose More Weight With Journaling
In a study by Baker and Kirschenbaum, 1998, 32 females and 6 males with a mean age of 43.6 years, self monitored (kept a food journal) for 10 weeks (3 weeks during holidays and 7 weeks during non holidays). Results showed that highly consistent self-monitors lost an average of 10 pounds more than low self monitors!
Keep the Weight Off With Journaling
In another study by Mattfeldt-Berman et al 1999, 224 male and 84 female participants who successfully maintained weight loss were significantly more likely to adhere to the following strategies: exercise, self-monitoring of food intake (keeping a journal), and weighing themselves weekly.
In practicing nutrition for over 15 years, I have found that patients who consistently keep a detailed food journal lose the most weight.
In addition to keeping a food journal, patients also need to have a target for the quantity of food in meals and snacks. Without targeted goals for total calories and portion sizes, weight loss will be less than optimal.
What are the different ways to journal?
Using an app, a computer based tracking program, and simple pen and paper are the most popular. To minimize the time required to journal and simplify the process, I now provide my patients with a customized nutrition planner with exact portion sizes that drastically minimizes the amount of writing needed and removes the need to count calories by the patient. So, instead of taking 10-20 minutes to journal daily (a barrier for some), my customized tracker takes about 1-5 minutes per day.
Top 5 benefits of keeping a journal:
- Helps to keep you focused on your meal plan and nutrition goals
- Provides a target for meal and snack portion sizes
- Keeps you accountable
- Reduces mindless eating
- Provides a written record and when combined with weight data, can provide valuable information as to how you lost weight!
Whether you prefer an app, a computer based version, pen and paper, or a customized meal planner from Nutrition Coaching Center, the key is to track your foods and portions to optimize your weight loss, keep it off, and help you accomplish your goals!
Yours in Good Health,
Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, ACE-CPT, LDN