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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

How Does Spark People Compare?
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User Feedback

(Page 3 of 4, 80 total comments)



Love it!! Very easy to use and has everything I need instead of using 3,4, or 5 diffrent sites.

posted Oct 26th, 2009 2:28 pm

Tia Pettygrue


I've been using Sparkpeople for almost 10 months and the community support is incredible! It's like having coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists, etc along with accountability and tracking! I went from size 12/14 to size 4/6 using the site!

posted Oct 20th, 2009 12:28 am



Site came highly recommended but I found it hard to use. So many features that the learning curve was more time than I could invest (esp nutrition tracking). They need a simpler more user-friendly option for site newbies.And some usability testing wouldn't hurt.

posted Sep 22nd, 2009 3:46 pm



I am so confused as how you could list things as a con:
* No pre-prepared meals.
This is great...you are not over paying for meals that might not be good for you.
* No magic-bullet pills.
Another great because losing weight is not going to happen magically or by pills. You have to learn how to eat properly and live a healthy lifestyle.
* More information than you can digest at one sitting. (It is best to take in each subject as it pertains to your personal goals).
Yes...there is a lot of info but you don't learn overnight it will take a while no matter what you are learning.
* Easy to "surf past" forums that might be pertinent to your current situation, since they are so varied.
Yes, but as you grow on the site you will learn about other teams that will be beneficial to you.

posted Aug 15th, 2009 10:27 pm

Rain Ness


Love it! Such a postive, healthy and productive way to create a healthy lifestyle change.

posted Jul 22nd, 2009 9:45 am


I have lost 35 lbs since joining sparkpeople April 14, 2009. This Web Site equips you with all the tools you need to lose the weight and keep it off (the healthy way). If I didn't run into sparkpeople by reading a blog, I would still be almost 200lbs, but thanks to SparkPeople I am 160lbs. and still losing. If you have fortitude and resiliency you will do great.

posted Jul 4th, 2009 9:37 am

Miranda Lynn Green


I like being able to track my foods and fitness with out having to do to much work writing down calories. I lost about 10 lbs and stoped using Sparkpeople just to gain it all back. Restarting again and looking forward to the results.

posted Jun 2nd, 2009 12:40 pm



I began with SP 1/14/08 and to date have gotten rid of 55.4 lbs and 33 inches overall. I couldn't have done that without SP.

posted Apr 27th, 2009 8:39 pm user comment



Sparkpeople is the best there is. if you're serious about losing weight then this is the place to be. It teaches you how to eat healthy, live a healthy lifestyle, and to be accountable for your self. No YO-YO diets here...this is for the long term weight loss goals.

posted Apr 20th, 2009 3:10 pm



I joined Sparkpeople on March 17th, of this year & I fell in love with the site instantly. It is the best site for weight lost that I have ever seen. I recommend
anyone who wants to lose weight to give Sparkpeople a try.

posted Mar 26th, 2009 11:01 am

victoria Cook


Love it! really useful.

posted Feb 26th, 2009 5:07 pm



Great way to lose weight. Fun! Great support system.

posted Feb 7th, 2009 8:44 pm

Liz Mason


The nutrition and fitness trackers are great but the community teams and the support they offer are the best. I love SPs daily info tips as well. I found some very useful blogs listing fast food menus with nutritional breakdowns to be quite helpful as well. It's just a great experience all around! And it's FREE!

posted Feb 1st, 2009 4:46 pm



I've been a member at SparkPeople for quite a while and overall I really like the site. The only downside I've found is that some of the nutritional advice offered by their "experts" is not particularly up-to-date. I've seen some really bad advice given out and if anyone points out the flaws in one of their nutrition articles, their comments are immediately removed.

But, free is free, so I guess you just have to take the bad with the good if you don't want to pay for a site with more well-known, well-regarded nutritionists.

posted Dec 27th, 2008 7:27 pm



I began using Sparkpeople on Jan 1, 2008. 2009 is now approaching; I've lost 30 pounds, am a size 2, and am incredibly fit. I did it all the healthy way, too--nothing magical, only hard work. I HIGHLY recommend Sparkpeople. (If you use it faithfully, it works!

posted Dec 27th, 2008 4:29 pm



I started SparkPeople last week - mainly to track my food intake and find out how many calories I was taking in. The first day I could not believe how many calories I had been consuming on a regular basis. No wonder I was having trouble losing weight. I have cut my calorie intake almost in half and I feel more in control of what I eat. I can tell the difference already. I want to slowly get more involved in other aspects of SparkPeople.

posted Dec 24th, 2008 8:58 am



I LOVE it is so help me i
lost 12 pounds in 15day
couldn't imagine my life without it.

posted Dec 10th, 2008 3:18 am



Love SparkPeople! Where else can you find all of this for no cost? I like it better than even Weight Watchers because it seems the most natural to me.

Coach Nicole's workouts are some of the best info on the site.

I find that when I visit it several times a day and use more than just the food journal, I do great. It sets my mind to a healthy lifestyle and a no self hatred attitude.

posted Dec 8th, 2008 8:58 am



No magic bullet; just a smart way to track calorie intake, exercise, weight, etc. Lost 45 lbs.

posted Dec 4th, 2008 10:16 pm



I've been on SP for 1-yr and have lost 15-lbs. It's a great, multi-disciplinary method of becoming healthier inside and out. It's diverse programs and tools allows a fit for practically everyone. It's a great social site to establish a solid support network as well as provide knowledge based information for the novice to expert. Many if not all of their article contributors are certified in various areas of health/fitness/psychology which makes SP a great place to start one's new LIFE journey- there are NO SHORT CUTS ON SP!

posted Dec 3rd, 2008 7:26 am


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