kardashians working out

Kim, Khloe, and Kourt might want to expand their workout circle.

photo: Khloe Kardashian/Instagram

Having a workout buddy is a proven way to motivate yourself to go to the gym. However, a study by Northwestern University using data from members of CalorieKing.com shows that you don't need to know them IRL to help you reach your goals.

The study found that online fitness communities are a powerful source of weight loss motivation. But you have to be an active participant in the community and cultivate a support network — a big support network.

According to the study, "the larger your clique, the better your outcomes.” 

People who went about losing weight on their own lost approximately 5% of their weight, while people with two to nine friends lost close to 7%, and those with 10 or more buddies lost over 8%.

When it comes to pounds lost, "the frequency with which you report your weight is a good indicator of positive outcomes.” Which is exactly why services like Weight Watchers encourage weekly weigh-ins and group meetings.

Whether you pay to join an online group or find a free forum with robust and loyal members, an ongoing line of communication with likeminded and motivated weight loss buddies will do you good.

Combine that with a personal commitment to tracking your progress and you have the winning formula. (MyFitnessPal is an extremely popular and effective way to track diet and weight loss.)

While the study touts online communities like its data partner, Calorie King, social media can also play a role. Facebook Groups allows you to create your own community between friends, and Instagram is rife with fitness inspiration.

Finding a tribe can kick that weight loss into high gear and be a great source of support if you loose steam. 

Bonnie Spring, professor in preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and one of the authors of the study, noted the correlation between social connectedness and weight loss. "We could clearly see the benefit of the online social network for weight-loss success," said Spring.

So if you've been thinking about losing weight, don't start by clearing out your fridge or paying for some pricey gym membership. Start by connecting with friends, online or IRL.