For many peo­ple, the thought of accu­rate­ly count­ing the dai­ly amount of calo­ries, car­bo­hy­drates, pro­teins and fats they eat can be so daunt­ing and over­whelm­ing that they want to run scream­ing to the near­est cof­fee shop to drown their sor­rows in a sweet or semi-sweet treat. With a final stop at choco­late fon­dant for dessert.

Want to lose fat? Before you change any­thing in your diet, try this. With one sim­ple step, you can lose a few pounds while you’re at it.

Solution

Don’t change any­thing in your diet, but keep track of every­thing you eat. Don’t restrict your calo­ries or even count them. Sim­ply write down what you eat and drink—every meal, every day. Use an app that’s con­ve­nient for you, car­ry a notepad or piece of paper with you, send emails to your­self after you eat some­thing — what­ev­er works best for you. Just do it. It sounds too sim­ple to believe, but it is true. Here’s why you should con­sid­er it.

3 facts why it works

Science confirms this is true

A com­pre­hen­sive study pub­lished by the Kaiser Per­ma­nente Care Man­age­ment Insti­tute looked at the effects of a food diary on weight loss among more than 1,700 men and women. Research sci­en­tists con­clud­ed that those who record­ed their food dai­ly lost twice as much weight as those who sim­ply ate and did not keep records.

This will help you become more aware of your portions.

The dif­fer­ence between one thin slice of rasp­ber­ry pie and a cou­ple of pieces of tuna tart can be strik­ing in terms of ener­gy val­ue. If you’re used to eat­ing a big dessert or a dou­ble por­tion of some­thing, you may not even think about reach­ing out and devour­ing it in sec­onds. But when you track food, you are forced to acknowl­edge and con­trol your choic­es. Even if you don’t know how many calo­ries a slice con­tains, you now have a bet­ter under­stand­ing that por­tion size is a choice and not some­thing that just hap­pens.

Over time, as you write down what you eat, you’ll prob­a­bly start ask­ing your­self before you even take that deli­cious piece of cake: “Is this what I real­ly want? I need it?” This impor­tant point will help you stay on track with your nutri­tion goals.

This can reveal weaknesses in the diet

If you typ­i­cal­ly drink sweet cof­fee in the morn­ing, two sodas through­out the day, and a cou­ple glass­es of wine at night—or all of the above—it becomes such a habit that you don’t even notice those liq­uid calo­ries.

How to record your food?

3 rules

  • To cre­ate the most accu­rate food diary, write down every­thing you eat com­plete­ly and accu­rate­ly.

  • Do this through­out the day, or even bet­ter, for a month, even if you don’t change any­thing in your diet.
  • Don’t for­get to indi­cate what you drink.

Your food jour­nal can be any­thing: an app, a note, a note­book, an email or text mes­sage to your­self, or what­ev­er works for you. Just be dili­gent in the record­ing process and that’s enough.

What not to do

Don’t write down in advance what you plan to eat at each meal. Yes, this method may seem more effec­tive, but it prob­a­bly won’t be accu­rate since it assumes it’s writ­ten down and not eat­en. Also, be sure to include all the snacks you indulge in through­out the day. Don’t con­fuse this with plan­ning. It will be the ide­al way to con­trol your appetite and weight.