Log It to Lose It


Dietary self-monitoring—“write it when you bite it”—doesn’t take as much time as you might think, and it’s an effective tool for weight loss. Those are the conclusions of a six-month study that measured not only weight loss, but time required for recording consumption.

Participants recorded online the calories and fat for all foods and beverages they consumed, as well as the portion sizes and the preparation methods. They also met weekly for an online group session led by a trained dietitian.

Participants who lost 10 percent of their body weight—the most successful members of the 142-person study group— spent an average of 23.2 minutes per day on self-monitoring in the first month of the program. By the sixth month, however, the time had dropped to 14.6 minutes.

What was most predictive of weight loss success was not the time spent monitoring— those who took more time and included more detail did not have better outcomes—but the frequency of log-ins, confirming the conclusions of earlier studies. Those who self-monitored three or more times per day, and were consistent day after day, were the most successful. Researchers observed that it seems to be the act of self-monitoring itself that makes the difference—not the time spent or the details included.