Early research has suggested that keeping a food diary is one of the best tools you can use to help you lose weight successfully. A recent study confirms this. The new research found that people who kept track of what they ate were much more successful at losing weight than those who did not.

The study was designed to investigate methods for long-term weight management; it was published in the August 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The 1,685 participants in the study attended a group weight management class led by nutrition and behavioral counselors approximately once a week for six months. All of the participants were at least 25 years old and were overweight or obese. At the beginning of each session the participants weighed-in, reported the number of minutes of physical activity they had done for the week, and reported the number of days they had kept a diet record for the week. The researchers compiled the data collected over the six-month intervention and looked for behaviors associated with successful weight loss.

What the data showed was really interesting: The strongest predictor of weight loss over the six month time period was the number of days per week people kept a diet record. People who wrote down what they ate six or more days per week lost twice as much weight as people who kept track on one day or fewer per week.

If you struggle with weight loss or weight maintenance, strongly consider trying to keep a food diary. You don’t need anything fancy — just make sure you choose a tracking method that is convenient. Use a notebook and a pen or create a document on your computer and write down everything that you eat and drink each day – including the occasional candy from the candy jar and the condiments on your sandwich! But keep it simple. This study suggests that developing the habit of keeping a food diary can help you to achieve your weight loss/maintenance goals.

Lauve Metcalfe