Should I Keep a Food Diary?

Jun 26, 2014 | by AIF

You can often train harder than you thought possible in a personal training session. Yet this hard work will be cancelled out if you haven’t considered the effect of what you’re eating. Shaun Radford, Master Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness in QLD, considers whether a food diary is effective.

Physique changes such as weight loss or muscle gain are common goals for many Australians, and nutrition is a critical factor in achieving results. Food diaries can be one of many effective tools to achieve such goals by providing a record of your eating patterns in real time.

So should you use a food diary? Here are some pros and cons:


  • You will gain an insight into quantities of food are they enough or too much?
  • You can record when you have meals to test what works best for you.
  • The types of foods you are eating can be researched. Then you can seek advice on the quality of current nutrition and macronutrient breakdown.
  • You can identify food behavioural patterns and then put strategies in place to mitigate any negative patterns, such as eating when you’re bored, stressed or tired.
  • Using a food diary increases accountability and awareness. For example, mindless eating while watching TV will now have your full attention.


  • You feel guilty about putting certain foods down and start lying to yourself.
  • Portions may be underestimated or dressings and sauces forgotten about.
  • It’s a time consuming task and you may not know what to do with the results. You may need the advice of your Personal Trainer and their Nutritionist.
  • This could exacerbate an obsessive’ relationship with food or exercise.

Food diaries aren’t for everyone. If you’re not sure about it then do your research or consult with your Personal Trainer to decide whether it would be a good method for you.

If pen to paper is a bit old school for you, there are plenty of free online tools you can use like My Fitness Pal or Calorie King. Alternatively, you can make one specifically on a Word document or Excel spreadsheet.

Don’t forget the ultimate goal is to make you more aware of the food you’re consuming on a daily basis and change your behaviour to achieve long-term success.



The Australian Institute of Fitness
The Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) is the largest and longest established fitness training organisation in Australia, with purpose-built campuses in and around every major Australian city and expert course coaches nationwide - spanning fitness, massage and nutrition. The AIF qualifies more Personal Trainers and fitness professionals than any other provider in Australia, as well as offering a broad range of continuing education courses (CEC), upskilling resources and partnership programs for existing industry.

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Important Information: As of 9th November 2021 SIS40215 Certificate IV in Fitness and SIS30315 Certificate III in Fitness have been replaced by SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness and SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. A transition period applies to enable currently enrolled students to fulfil their study goals and complete their qualification. The transition period concludes on 8th November 2022. If you have not completed all the requirements by this date you will be transitioned and enrolled into the replacement qualification SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness and SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. View the SIS40221 Master Trainer Program Flyer here. View the SIS30321 Certificate III – Fitness Coach Flyer here.