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5 Ways Social Media Can Help You Lose Weight

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    It Fosters Community

    Dieters who used the community-support benefits of social media lost more weight than their less-connected peers, according to a Northwestern University study. The deets? The online dieters for the study used CalorieKing, a weight-loss tool that raises eating-habit awareness, to access weight-loss tools and log their meals. Those who checked in regularly and "friended" other members lost 8 percent more body weight after six months.

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    It Gives You a Self-Esteem Boost

    Posting photos on Facebook can positively influence self-esteem, says a study from Cornell University. After all, you're able to edit and approve each image you post, so your Facebook profile showcases your awesomeness in the best light—and your followers can't help but click like. That's great news considering that separate research links self-esteem to healthy habits.

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    It Provides Support and Information

    In a University of Southern California study, one group of adults listened to two nutrition and fitness podcasts each week, while another group listened to the podcasts, reported their workouts, and connected with other study participants on Twitter. Turns out, every 10 tweets corresponded to a .5-percent weight loss, leading researchers to conclude that Twitter can be a useful part of a weight-loss program—possibly because of the increased social support, access to information, and accountability.

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    It Makes You More Accountable

    Setting a goal—and screaming it from the rooftops (or from your Twitter account, in this case)—sets you up for success. A new study from Dominican University of California looked at how stating a goal affects the likelihood of its success. A whopping 70 percent of study participants who reported their progress to a friend each week completed their goals successfully, compared to 35 percent of those who kept their goals to themselves.

    Fueled by the idea that the transparency of social media could help him lose weight, one New York Times reporter turned to Twitter in 2010 to drop unwanted pounds. Over the course of several months, he tweeted everything he ate—the good ("asparagus sted of fries") and the not-so-good ("cinnamon melts and hash browns"). Twitter provided cheerleaders and held him accountable for meeting his goals. He lost 90 pounds.

    Remember: Accountability can come through various forms. If you're not ready to put every bite out in the open, put some money behind your goals with DietBet.

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    It Helps You Keep Track of Your Diet

    Keeping track of your food intake clues you into every bite—yes, even the handful of peanuts you grab on your way out the door. While it can be an intimidating goal to track every meal, it can also help increase awareness of what you're eating. Apps like Meal Snap and PhotoCalorie prompt users to take photos of food to tally up calories—and share their progress with others. By logging every bite, you'll set yourself up to lose twice as much weight, says a study from Kaiser Permanente for Health Research. After looking at 1,685 adults, researchers found the number of days spent tracking food intake directly correlated to more weight loss.