Keeping track of what you eat may be the most important thing you can do for your weight loss success: In a study from 2019, people who tracked what they ate for three months—without any other changes—lost an average of five pounds.
That’s one reason Nutrisystem created NuMi, our free tracking app. It has Nutrisystem recipes and hundreds of grocery foods already programmed in, so keeping a food diary is easier and simpler than ever.
Using a smartphone app to track what you’re eating has been shown to be easier to adhere to than using a paper diary or a website: In one study, scientists found that people who used apps to track their food logged three times more often than people who used paper journals, and almost three times as often as people who tracked via a website.
NuMi isn’t just a food journal, though: It’s a weight loss journal, helping you to log your weight and measurements, keep track of activity—even connecting to a Fitbit device if you have one—and keeping tabs on your water intake, too. Here are five reasons that keeping a journal could be your ultimate weight loss success strategy.
1. You’ll lose more weight!
How much more? Try double. In a study, people who kept a food journal lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t.
In another study, scientists found that keeping a food journal was the most significant lifestyle change an overweight or obese person could make for weight loss success—people who did so lost 3.7% more weight than the average dieter.
And the more often you track, the more weight you could lose! In fact, one study found that how often people log their dinner into an app was the most important factor for successful weight loss when using a phone-based tracking method—meaning they were using the app more often and later in the day, rather than just putting in breakfast and stopping the day’s log.
2. You’ll really know what you’re eating.
One of the reasons so many Americans are overweight or obese is that we’re bad at estimating portions. And we’re bad at it in the worst ways: A study from 2013 found that we overestimate the portion sizes of high-calorie foods, and underestimate the portion sizes of lower-calorie foods. Translation: We eat bigger slices of cake than we realize, and eat smaller salads than we ought to.
That’s part of the reason our weight can get away from us—we don’t even realize what we’re eating! This can add on weight, but also keep us from losing; because we don’t keep track of what we’re actually eating, we don’t know if we’re eating enough of the right foods—or too much of the wrong ones—to meet our goals.
A food journal can help solve this: You’ll actually know what you’re eating—and how much—so you’ll be able to stay on track to your goals … or understand why you’ve hit a plateau.
3. You can keep track of your good days—and know how to repeat them.
Plenty of weight loss advice is about what not to do. But when you’re trying to lose weight, it’s even more important to know what works—especially what works specifically for you. Your weight loss journal is the key for this: With work and family obligations, trying to keep up with the news and Netflix shows, it can be hard to remember what made your best days so great. Now you can refer back to your journal to a day where you felt powerful, happy or successful and see what you did and ate that day … so you can repeat it.
One way to use NuMi to keep track of the good days is to use the “Progress” tab at the bottom. When you’re having a good day, click the “add a photo” button at the top on the Progress page. Here, you can add a photo from your great day, and also write down why things were great: Use the “Share Your Story” area to fill in the emotions you’re feeling, the foods that made you feel satisfied, or anything else that made this a banner day on your journey. You’ll then be able to refer back to these photo posts to replicate your best days.
4. You’re reminded of your goals every day.
Writing down your goals is great, but keeping them in the front of your mind has been shown to be a key to reaching and exceeding them.
Your weight loss journal will help you do just that: Instead of getting distracted, you’ll be using NuMi each day to record your food, your weight, your progress and more. This will remind you of the habits you need to build to reach your goals, and that those goals are important to you.
5. You’ll keep track of your weight and exercise, too.
Weighing yourself frequently has been shown to help with weight loss. In one study from 2015, people who stepped on the scale every day not only lost more weight, but they adopted more “weight control strategies” in the long run. What that means: Their new, healthier habits became part of their lifestyle.
One of the “weight control strategies” you might adopt is regular exercise—and NuMi can help you track that, too. And that tracking could help motivate you to exercise more often, according to a 2021 study. With NuMi, you can manually input your activity, or connect the app to a fitness tracker to automatically sync and track your daily and weekly activity.