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Spark People

Spark People

SparkPeople is the largest free weight loss community on the web.

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  • Established: 2001
  • Founder: Chris Downie
  • Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Accessibility: Online, book
  • Diet Type: Free online weight loss community; low-calorie, low-fat, increased exercise
  • Gender: Male, female

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Check-out the new book by SparkPeople CEO Chris Downie, The Spark.

SparkPeople is a community. SparkPeople is a health site. SparkPeople is a fully-developed free diet plan. It incorporates a lifestyle-change approach to healthy living. It bases its nutritional components upon the food pyramid and its diet plan on the premise that you must take in less calories than you expend, in order to lose weight.

SparkPeople does not simply provide a one-line synopsis of what dieting should or shouldn't look like. Instead, it guides you through a four-stage program that you initiate and sustain through education, group support and motivation. All this is done online via a community that exchanges information through forums, shared recipes and stories of success or failure, from people who are navigating through the same journey as yourself.

SparkPeople began in 2001 as a goal-setting site. When it became apparent that nearly all of the contributors and community members shared the goals of wanting sound nutrition, fitness and healthy lifestyles, they flung themselves full-heartedly into providing the best information about health that they could find. This lead to a full-scale discussion about the kinds of dieting programs that consistently produced results. What they came to believe, after all the study and input was complete, is that there is no magic bullet when it comes to living healthy. Being healthy is about both daily and lifetime choices. The site that exists today is a collaborative effort and attracts nearly two million users. In 2006, SparkPeople was ranked as the 6th most visited site in the "Health and Medical-Wellbeing" category and 3rd amongst diet sites. Spark's mission is about creating support that translates into success and "sparks" the desire to pass "lessons learned" to others.

  • Providing our body with a total fitness regimen, including all the nutrients that a diet rich in variety can provide
  • Provides exercise/fitness support
  • Emotional support
  • Complete four-step plan and educational tools to make each step understandable.
  • Forums and support modules on-site to help direct and support each member's efforts.
  • Email reminders that help you remain true to goals, or offer alternative methods when life gets in the way.
  • Diagnostic tools for determining Base Metabolic Rate (BMR), age, weight, etc., which take into account the time frame you desire to reach your goal and help devise a weight-loss plan, accordingly.
  • Thousands of user-suggested recipes and comments from those who tried them
  • FREE. The plan, the support and the community remain one of the few free weight loss regimines in the world.
  • May be more information than you can digest at one sitting

There are several tools available to help you eat a healthier diet. Spark members have access to Spark Recipes which offers over 200,000 different recipes. The web site also includes a calorie counter and meal plans. The beauty of the information available through Spark is that everything is free. When you are documenting your meals, there are thousands of common foods to choose from in the database. Meal plans can be printed out and you can also print your grocery list directly from the meals you will be eating each week. If there are any foods you don’t like that are showing up in your meal plan, you can simply remove them. Below is the sample day of eating with a Spark meal plan:

  • Breakfast: Yogurt with fresh peaches; wheat bran muffin; tea
  • Lunch: Spinach salad with cheese, shrimp and strawberries; roll; tea
  • Dinner: Chickpeas and spinach with feta; roll; banana
  • Snack: Bean dip with salsa; carrots

In October 2011, Chef Meg Galvin authored The Sparkpeople Cookbook for the popular weight loss brand. It includes hundreds of healthy, satisfying recipes that serve as healthier versions of some of America's favorite foods.

A sampling of the recipes can be found here at DietsInReview.com:


Exercise is a focal point with the SparkPeople community. Incorporating some fitness acivities will help lead you to a healthier life. It will also help you reach your weight loss goals faster. Once you sign up, you will answer some questions about your current workouts and your goals. This helps create your workout schedule which will consist of cardio and strength training exercises. Each day you log in, the site will tell you how much cardio or strength training you should do that day. There is a tutorial for how to work with the exercise component. If at any time the workout schedule you have doesn’t work you can easily change your options. You are in complete control of how long you workout, what days include certain exercises and what specific exercises you do. On your cardio workout days, the system tells you how many calories you need to burn. How you burn them is completely up to you. Some of the suggested cardio exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Various house chores
  • Aerobics
  • Cycling
  • Circuit training
  • Hiking

The SparkPeople fitness database offers a wide selection of workout activities to choose from. Once you’ve selected your activity, you type in how long you worked out and save your calorie burn to your SparkPeople profile. The process is the same whether you are recording cardio or strength training time. SparkPeople offers several demonstration photos and videos to help you maintain proper form in your workouts. Members can talk to each other on the various SparkPeople message boards for inspiration or help in finding the proper workout.


The Internet now affords us neighborhood meetings from the comfort of our own home. For those brave enough to enter even one discussion group, the opportunities for growth are limitless. The SparkPeople have filled an enormous need by bringing some of the best information they can provide to the general site, and then, by offering varied groups of people at differing stages of the journey, who can share, encourage and enjoy one another. Spark is most likely for that person who is willing to take personal responsibility for their progress, while enjoying the obviously well-intentioned input of others who have met and overcome their own hurdles. By sharing what works and doesn't work among one another, no task seems nearly as daunting.

Common MisspellingsCommon Misspellings

Spark People, Spart People, Spark Diet, Sperk People, Spark Peeple, the spark

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User Feedback

(Page 1 of 4, 80 total comments)

Nadia Gauci

I like it, you also have a mobile app to just post everything you eat and it tells you how much is left not to go overboard, and I have been losing weight at a slow pace but not suffering any hunger

posted Aug 21st, 2015 6:34 pm



Need to learn more about cholesterol numbers and how to get motivated to get off the couch! New, as in never heard of this 5 min ago. How do I go about learning how to best use. I'm 74, live alone, don't cook much. Just heard I have mod high cholesterol, and don't want to take meds!

posted Jul 24th, 2015 3:05 am



I've only in the last week started using it, but one of the things I have always struggled with is meal planning. Tracking what I eat is good and all, but the nutrition tracker actually prefills your days with meals according to your goals. This is the silver bullet.

In addition, it allows you to exchange food and meal you don't like for ones that do. In one hour, I was able to plan all my meals for a week, take into account feeding a family of 3, and generate a shopping list. I can also print out my meals and stick it on the refrigerator for easy reference. That has greatly reduced my frustration.

In addition, they have the Spark*D program for diabetics. The nutrition goals are in line for those of us fighting diabetes.

posted Jan 3rd, 2015 4:20 pm

Mel Fouch


This is a really helpful site, and I like the fact you can take a s much or as little form it as you feel you need.

You can use it simply to log food eaten and exercise taken, or you can make us of the wide variety of articles, exercise videos (courtesy of the excellent Coach Nicole), message boards, Teams etc.

Above all I appreciate the really common-sense approach it takes. It's not a faddy diet that might get the weight off but won't help you keep it off. It's a way to permanently improve what and how you eat and so improve your overall health.

posted Jun 3rd, 2012 7:29 pm



This is a great way to track food & exercise & read tons of information!!

posted Mar 30th, 2012 5:15 pm

Brenda B.


I have been a member off and on for a couple years, I have not had a great deal of success, but that is due to me not the site, sparkpeople is great and offers a wonderful assortment of tools. You have to be ready for it like any other part of your life.

posted Jan 5th, 2012 7:31 pm

Vicky D

Sparkpeople is amazing!!!!! So much wonderful info, great ways to connect with other people and FREE!!!

posted Oct 26th, 2011 12:25 pm



II found sparkpeople on Sept 19 and immediately started their calorie counting diet plan. Just weighed myself yesterday, Oct 4 and have already lost 10 pounds. I want to lose over 100 more pounds and believe I can do it following their calorie counting plan. Highly recommend it.

posted Oct 5th, 2011 7:38 am



I've been using it for 3 months, and i haven't lost any weight. HOWEVER, i feel better and have more confidence in myself, and i've been making better food choices by learning what has what in it, and what are better options.

posted Jun 26th, 2011 8:50 pm


I LOVE SP; been on this site for 3 months now and have lost 17 lbs and have so much more energy, postive outlook, self esteem. true, the website is loaded. I started with the book, which was a great way to get started. The only way to lasting change is taking personal responsiblity. the fact that there are no "magic pills" or " pre-packaged foods" is a plus, not a minus. those things are ways to evade reality and a source of revenue for the producers..guaranteeing that you'll be back again to spend your money. This site is free. all it takes is your determination and committment to your own self. When those flag, lots of tools and community support to get you going. It is an inner as well as outer change.

posted Apr 9th, 2011 10:39 am



I've been a member of SP for five years and cannot say enough positive about it! It can be overwhelming at first, since the site is so extensive and varied, but if you just stick to one tool at a time (start with the nutrition tracker, for example) you will be so thrilled with the usefulness and FREEness of sparkpeople.com!! I lost 30 lbs using the tools and menus here. While I occassionally gain back 5 or 6 lbs here and there, the tools, trackers, articles, threads, recipes, and teams help and motivate me to get RIGHT BACK on it, so that the creeping 5 can get lost again. I love SP! SPREAD THE SPARK!

posted Jan 8th, 2011 7:33 pm



It is great...just need to start the new year off right for 2011

posted Jan 1st, 2011 4:47 pm



I've been with SparkPeople for a year now. I've lost over 40 pounds from my overall 290 pounds and am far more active, definitely am aware of what I'm eating and how much I'm consuming, participate in about 30 minutes of core, upper and lower body exercises accordingly daily (exercises I can do anywhere...no expensive equipment, etc.) I personally walk over 10,000 steps daily and I'm feeling so much healthier than I have in a long, long time. It's a lifestyle change, not necessarily a diet. The "plan" holds you accountable, provides you with tools, with ideas, with encouragement but expects you to hold yourself accountable and expects you to make it happen at your own pace.

Personally, I love it. It saved my life. I was on it before and loved it then... lost 40 plus pounds but things happened in my life re: loss of family members, etc. and I just went into a depressed state and fell off the lifestyle several years ago. I rejoined last October when I was bumping 300 pounds. I'm down to 245 now and am still losing as I go.

Again, this lifestyle saved my life. I'm not hyping it for you, I'm just telling you what it's done for me... and others I know.

Besides... it's free and it works...

posted Nov 28th, 2010 5:56 pm



I signed up. How do I sign off?
Too many "sign in's". I would be on the computer all. day? Why all the passwords. Most of what you have to say is plugging drug companies. (I did lose a lot of weight in my fingers, however.

posted Nov 2nd, 2010 5:47 pm



There is no magic to control weight, my experience is that getting informed is the most important approach. Sparkpeople is amazingly detailed and I'm able to customize the information to my personal needs.

If I just want to count calories, I can do that, If I want to watch carbs/proteins, I can do that. The web site interface is confusing, other than that, great!

posted Oct 13th, 2010 12:10 pm



I LOVE SPARK!!! It gives me the tools I need to succeed as well as the accountability. I love the team community and getting to interact with others dealing with the same issues as I am. I have lost 44 pounds so far on Spark.

posted Sep 21st, 2010 5:54 pm



i am disabled in wheelchair . i am a last losing a little weight. any suggestions, but glad any other diet had me just maintaning.

posted Sep 17th, 2010 3:01 am


I have been on SparkPeople for 9 months and lost 80 lbs of 210. I like the flexibility, the feedback I can get by simply tracking my food, in terms of how I'm doing, and I rarely feel hungry (in fact, at first it was hard to get used to eating so much).
It's free, the site is a bit clunky, but you get used to it in a couple of weeks, and I've met all sorts of great people.
Even more important than getting to a healthy BMI is the fact that I can access the experience of other members in how to maintain weight loss--because only 5% of those who lose weight keep it off.

posted Sep 16th, 2010 4:02 pm



SparkPeople.com is an amazing site. I have already lost 15 pounds. This is not a diet site, it is a site to help with the steps for a life style change, which is what most people need. I love it.

posted Jul 29th, 2010 1:43 am



Spark is a plan for a healthy lifestyle. I wasn't even planning on going on a diet and have lost a little over 10 pounds. My goal is to lose 5 more. Better yet, I am eating better and exercising. It is a great community! Try it!

posted Jul 19th, 2010 11:38 am


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