Using a diet journal is an excellent way to track calories (and exercise) for weight loss or weight gain, and it helps determine if you're getting a good balance of essential nutrients. You can reap numerous benefits from using a food journal, so it's useful to have a printable outline to help you get started.
Printable Diet Journal
Using the Journal
To use the journal, on a daily basis, record:
- Everything you eat for each meal
- Portion sizes
- Calories for each portion
Knowing how many calories you need daily helps you set daily calorie goals when using diet journals. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 suggest adult women need 1,600 to 2,400 calories daily, and men often require 2,000 to 3,000 calories (depending on age and activity level) per day to maintain healthy weights. For weight loss, women should aim for 1,200 to 1,500 calories and men should shoot for 1,500 to 1,800 calories daily, recommends the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Determining Calories in Foods
There are several ways you can find out how many calories are in the food you're eating. The first is to read the food label, if there is one. On it, you'll see the number of calories present in one serving, or portion, of food, as well as what is considered a serving size. If you're eating out or the food doesn't come with a label, use the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Composite Database or Food Tracker to determine the number of calories in the food you're eating. Alternatively, try a calorie-tracking app, such as FitDay.
Journal for Health
Use this journal to keep track of your foods. Keeping a diet journal can help you to make healthier, more nutritious choices for the foods you eat.