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Extension > Live Healthy, Live Well > Try 'SuperTracker' to Lose Weight in the New Year

Monday, January 2, 2017

Try 'SuperTracker' to Lose Weight in the New Year

By Mary Schroeder, Extension educator and registered dietitian

Did you make a New Year's resolution to lose weight? If so, this should interest you: Research shows that people who track what they eat and their physical activity are more likely to lose weight.

As a dietitian, I have found this to be true. People who track what they eat and drink lose weight easier than those that don't. This is true, in part, because the act of recording something raises awareness, which usually leads to action.

You can record everything you eat and drink, as well your physical activity, the old-fashioned way by writing things down on paper — in a notebook or on a calendar, for example. Or you can use one of the many online tools or apps that help you track your food and activity.

SuperTracker, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is an example of a free online tool you can use to plan, analyze, and track your diet and physical activity.

screenshot from supertracker homepage

To get the most benefit from the SuperTracker website, begin by creating a profile with your age, height, current weight and goal weight, and your physical activity level goal. SuperTracker will then help you set a calorie intake goal. In addition, the SuperTracker tool will show you a chart with how much you should be eating from each food group to meet your calorie and nutrient needs.

Once you have created your profile, you can begin tracking your food intake and physical activity on the My Journal page under the My Features tab at the top of the SuperTracker site.

sample journal page from supertracker
Sample journal page.

The site also contains two pages linked from a drop-down menu under the Track Food & Activity tab that will help you record your food intake and physical activity:
  • The Food Tracker page lets you check the calories and nutrients in the foods you eat, so you can enter those in your journal. The “Food Tracker” page also lets you view how your daily choices stack up to your food group targets and daily limits. 
  • The Physical Activity Tracker page lets you view how your activities stack up against your targets.
Another feature of SuperTracker is My Top 5 Goals, found under the My Features tab at the top of the website. This feature allows you to create goals for food intake and physical activity based on your age, height, weight and other aspects of your personal profile. You can also click on the My Reports tab to see how your food intake and activity levels have changed over time. Here are two examples of reports:

daily food group targets example
Food Group report in numbers....

daily food group targets in a bar graph
...and food group report in graph form.
SuperTracker also lets you sign up to receive tips to reach your goals. The site has many additional features you can explore, such as analyzing your home recipes or comparing different foods for their caloric and nutritional value. I think you will find SuperTracker is a very useful and easy-to-use tool to help you achieve a healthier 2017.

Give SuperTracker a Try

Set a New Year's resolution to do one or more of the following:
  • Go to the SuperTracker site and set up a profile. 
  • Track the foods you eat and your physical activity for at least three days.
  • Take it from there — either continue using SuperTracker or try out another app. Remember writing down what you eat on a piece of paper works too!


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