It’s January. The month where people refresh their lives, begin their resolutions, and tackle their fitness or weight loss goals after the holidays settle down. If your goal is weight loss, one of the most efficient ways to accomplish it is to track what you eat. Before the birth of smartphones, it was much harder to keep track of every bite that went into your mouth. People actually had to write down what they ate on paper! Gasp. Thanks to modern technology, you can now track what you eat on an app! Who would have thought that your smart phone could aid in your diet? Things you’ll need to know when using a food journal app:
1) Eat at least 1,200 net calories a day to lose weight (or inches!) If you’re exercising, you’ll need to eat 1,200 PLUS the amount that you burned. If you’re maintaining weight (and not exercising), you should eat around 2,000 calories a day, depending on your age and other factors. Click here for an estimation of calorie requirements to maintain weight.
2) Many apps have a barcode scanner. This means you can use your phone to scan the barcode on packaged food that you purchase. It will then automatically tell you the nutrition information in one serving. Should you choose to eat it, the app can log how many calories you just consumed.
3) You might have to guess occasionally. Guestimation is normal, especially if your eating fresh food and cooking yourself. It’s hard to be super precise. Use you’re best judgment. If there are a few different food options to choose from, I choose the one with the most calories to be safe. There are quite a few food journal apps out there. Thanks to an iTunes gift card, I purchased and downloaded 12 food journal apps, although some were free. Here is what I liked and what I didn’t like about them.
Meal Snap – this app is for those of you who don’t really care to be super accurate. You actually take a picture of your plate, and it gives you an estimate of how many calories you ate. It’s pretty cool. I had a salad, cheese grits, and steak on my plate. The app correctly identified my salad and steak, but called my grits mashed potatoes. The estimated calories seem to be a wide range. It estimated 477-716 calories and the actual calories was 637 (I used another app to accurately calculate for comparison.)
In the App Store Search: “Meal Snap”
Track Online: No
Things I liked: Pretty cool that it recognized some food.
Things I didn’t like: Not accurate enough for me either in calorie count or identifying food.
MyNetDiary Calorie Counter - the app promises that if you upgrade to the PRO version, it comes with a commercial grade barcode scanner. I like that it has a Daily Nutrition Summary. You can scan food with the barcode scanner. I was unable to find something I scanned, but maybe because it was an off brand. It is nice to look at, because when you add food, it makes cute tiny pictures of it.
In the App Store Search: “My Net Diary”
Track Online: Yes
Cost: Free ($3.99 for the PRO version)
Things I liked: You can keep track of your measurements!
Things I didn’t like: There isn’t a daily summary that shows food and exercise together. You have to select each category and individually go to that page to see it.
MyFitness Pal - This is the most detailed food journal app I’ve come across. While it isn’t the prettiest looking, it is so well designed that it makes up for it in my opinion. On the Diary page, it keeps a running list of food and exercise that you frequent. This app has the most extensive library of food. You can search almost anything, from any restaurant or grocery store.
In the App store search: “My Fitness Pal”
Track Online: Yes
Things I like: You can create and store your own recipes, choose your serving size, and add it to your daily entry.
Things I didn’t like: It looks so boring.
Lose It by fit now - The first thing I searched for (Glutino Gluten Free Bread) I was unable to find. When I scanned it with the barcode scanner, it identified it as romaine. Not a good start. The second thing I looked for (pumpkin spice cream cheese) was also missing. The barcode scanner did correctly identify it as cream cheese though. When I used the barcode scanner it activated the light on my iPhone 5. This would be helpful in low light settings. When you add exercise, there is a pretty good list to browse from. You can also store personalized recipes.
Search: “Lose it” (If you search “Lose it app” you wont be able to find it)
Track Online: Yes
Things I liked: I love that it has a pie chart breakdown of the day’s nutrients. With just a glance you can tell if you’re getting enough protein or too much fat for the day.
Things I didn’t like: The lack of specific food. I always had to choose a food closest to what I was eating, rather than what I was actually eating.
MyPlate by Livestrong (lite version) - This app is great because you can earn points toward gift cards every time you log in and track food. Granted, the 5,500 points it takes for a $5 gift card might take you around 200 days to earn, but it’s a cool idea to keep people accountable. You can also look up different forms of exercises and it keeps track of how many calories you burned. If you purchase the regular version, it syncs to the online journal, where you can log in and track your progress on a computer. I must say, compared to the app, the online version is much easier to use.
In the App Store Search: Livestrong Calorie Counter
Track Online: Yes
Cost: Free (regular version is $2.99)
What I liked: I like the calorie goal screen. It was attractive and it kept track of my net calories (calories consumed minus exercise.)
What I didn’t like: I wasn’t able to find certain foods in the search bar. The app wasn’t as awesome as the online version.
My favorite is probably MyFitnessPal. Because I cook so much and eat gluten free, it has the widest variety of foods and I love that I can store recipes. Recent studies suggest that you are 80% more likely to lose weight if you write down everything you eat. That’s a HUGE motivation to keep track. Try out a few apps and let us know what your favorite is! Stay motivated to stay healthy! Sources: fitsugar.com, webMD.com