Weight Loss Journal and Food Log

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Food journaling is not always appropriate for all people, especially if you have disordered eating habits, thoughts, or a history of eating disorders. Food journaling is usually associated with calorie counting, which may feel too restrictive and stressful for some. Seek guidance from therapist or registered dietician with experience addressing these issues.

Many people working toward a weight-loss goal keep a weight loss journal. A food log or other journal tool can help you record your food intake, count calories, and keep track of additional important information to lose weight successfully.


Watch Now: How to Set S.M.A.R.T. Weight Loss Goals

Weight Loss Journal Options

There are a few different ways to keep track of the food you eat daily. Some people use phone apps or websites to track their calories and daily exercise. The most popular apps include Lose It, My Fitness Pal, and Lifesum. Each food log consists of a large inventory of popular foods, so it is easy to track your intake.

Food log apps work well if you prefer digital methods for recording your meals. But you can post a printable, paper food journal in a place where you see it regularly and remind you of your commitment to healthy eating.

When you use an app or website to log your calories, you don't see your actual food log unless you choose to. Your smartphone may be turned off and tucked away in your purse or briefcase. And when you do look at the app, you likely only see a day's worth of information.

But you can post a food log printout in your kitchen where it is easy to see. That way, it's hard to forget to log your food at mealtime or when you grab a snack. The food diary might also nudge you to make lower-calorie choices when you see your daily calorie intake. And your food journal printout can remind you of the good food choices you've made throughout the day, week, or month. 

Printable Food Journal

If you have decided to keep a paper weight-loss journal, follow these steps for success.

Step 1: View and print your food journal.

Step 2: Record essential nutrients for each food that you eat. You won't always be able to fill in each column, but try to gather as much information as possible about the foods you eat. Reducing calories is important, but getting enough of these essential nutrients will make it easier to lose weight.

  • Carbohydrate: Carbs provide energy to stay active throughout the day. Good sources of carbs can also provide essential vitamins, minerals, or fiber to build a strong and healthy body. 
  • Fat: Healthy fats, like those in nuts, fish, or plant-based oils, are necessary for healthy cell function in your body.
  • Fiber: When you eat foods high in fiber, you stay satisfied and feel full for a more extended period.
  • Protein: Foods like lean meats, beans, and dairy products provide protein. Protein helps you to build muscle and also allows you to feel full after meals.

Step 3: Add important lifestyle information, such as exercise, daily steps, and sleep data. Research shows that people who rest well at night and stay active during the day are more likely to lose weight and maintain it.

Also, record daily accomplishments, even if they are small. Giving yourself credit for all the smart choices you make during the day will help keep you motivated throughout your weight loss journey.

Step 4: Analyze your weekly calorie deficit. If you eat the correct number of calories daily, you should end the week with a calorie deficit. Use this printable form to track your progress from week to week. If you aren't losing enough weight each week, change your energy balance to make weight loss happen faster.

Remember that if you prefer not to create your weight loss journal, you can buy one at your local stationery store. Several brands make different styles of journals that can help you stay on track with your diet and exercise program.

Weight Loss Journal Tips

Keeping an organized weight loss journal will help make your process more effective. But your food journal won't always be perfect. Keep these tips in mind.

  • Be patient. Remember that dieting is not an exact science. Sometimes it takes longer than expected to lose the weight you want. Give yourself time and stick to the plan.
  • Enter food data at mealtime. To get the most accurate information, try to enter nutrient information right away when you eat. It's hard to remember portion sizes and food data later in the day.
  • Enter only what you eat. You don't have to eat each meal or snack in the food journal. For example, if you don't eat dessert, don't fill that row. Eating more often doesn't necessarily help you lose weight.
  • Plan meals in advance. You'll be prepared with calorie information if you schedule meals ahead of time. You can even enter the information in advance. Some people prepare a week's worth of meals in an hour or two to make sticking to an eating plan more manageable.

A Word From Verywell

Weight loss journals are a valuable tool for accountability and insight. However, they aren't appropriate for everyone and can be associated with calorie counting. If you choose to use a food journal, use your weight loss journal regularly for the best results. Keep each day's food log and week's weight loss journal to evaluate along the way. Then make changes and adjustments to your caloric intake or your daily calorie expenditure to reach your goal weight.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Franco RZ, Fallaize R, Lovegrove JA, Hwang F. Popular nutrition-related mobile apps: A feature assessment. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2016;4(3):e85. doi:10.2196/mhealth.5846

  3. Abete I, Astrup A, Martínez JA, Thorsdottir I, Zulet MA. Obesity and the metabolic syndrome: role of different dietary macronutrient distribution patterns and specific nutritional components on weight loss and maintenance. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(4):214-231. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00280.x

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By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.