There are many food, weight and activity tracking apps out there and it can get overwhelming if you are just starting out.
Here are a list of some of the top and effective tracking apps:
- eaTracker (both on Android and iOS)
- MyFitnessPal (both on Android and iOS)
- SparkPeople (both on Android and iOS)
- MyDietCoachPRO (both on Android and iOS)
- CalorieCount (both on Android and iOS)
- MyDietDiary (both on Android and iOS)
- Pacer (both on Android and iOS)
- YouFood (both on Android and iOS)
- NexRrack (only on iOS)
- Lark (only on iOS)
- MyNetDiaryPRO (only on iOS)
- CalorieCounter (only on iOS)
- MyPlate (only on iOS)
- Ultimate Food Value Diary (only on iOS)
- Weilos (only on iOS)
- Diet Plan (only on Android)
- Diet Watchers Diary (only on Android)
- FatSecret (only on Android)
- MSN Health & Fitness (only on Android)
My Favorites are: eaTracker and MyFitnessPal.
Here’s a breakdown of these two apps -including their key features, the pros, the cons and a step-by-step guide for beginners.
eaTracker is a self-monitoring approach to help individuals’ live balanced lifestyles, generated by the Dietitians of Canada. It is used to track everyday food intake as well as daily physical activity. It is generally used to guide individuals to reach their fitness goals through maintaining a balanced diet and physical activity level. eaTracker is free service which you can use on your computer or download it as an app on your smartphone. This way you can input your food intake and physical activity throughout the day and look at your progress as you go. This is great eye opening tool because it tells you exactly how many calories you’re eating, what nutrients you’re consuming and how much. It also shows you what nutrients you’re lacking in your everyday life compelling you to make some important changes in your everyday diet.
Key features of eaTracker:
eaTracker consists of many important features including:
1) My Goals
In this tab users are allowed to enter their desired goals. They can either set specific goals for themselves or use “ready-made goals”. Ready-made goals include broad goals such as “I want to eat more fruit and vegetables” and then they goes into more specific and measurable goals which outlines how many serving of fruits and vegetables you want to consume every day this week for example. These goals help guide your daily food intake and activity level.
2) Daily Menu
In this tab users enter their food intake for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. You can search the food in the search bar and choose the option closest to what you actually ate. If you want a more precise food entry you can enter your own recipes with all the ingredients and the eaTracker will calculate the individual nutrient breakdown for you. The nutrient breakdown in the eaTracker includes calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, vegetables/fruits, grain products, milk/alternatives, meat/ alternatives. This breakdown helps individual’s assess their daily food intake, what they are meeting the requirements for and what they are lacking.
3) Activity log
In this tab users can enter their physical activities throughout the day. It can be as simple as going for a walk for 20 minutes to vigorous strength training for 30 minutes. After the type and duration of activity is added, eaTracker classifies the type of activity as low, moderate or high effort and displays an estimated number of calories you burned. Users can use this feature to see how physically active they are and how little efforts to be active can majorly contribute to improving overall health.
4) My Coach
This feature allows users to receive professional assistance from a registered dietitian with a personalized approach. You can add your registered dietitian (or me at email@example.com) as your coach. Where you can receive additional guidance and personalized tips to eating healthy and reaching your fitness goals. This will allow you to get results more easily because the dietitian would not be enforcing meal plans where they decide everything you are supposed to eat. Rather this will be individuals themselves taking accountability and making their own food choices and the dietitian is there to give suggestions and recommendations that you can easily add into your day-to-day life.
The Pros of eaTracker:
- eaTracker can be used by people of different activity levels and for both genders. Individuals starting from 14 years and up can use this tool, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women can benefit from it.
- Allows you to keep track of your food intake and daily calories
- Shows you a breakdown of all essential nutrients and whether you are meeting the requirements
- Helps you keep track of your physical activity level
- Even simple daily activities
- Adds up total calories burned throughout the day and total calories consumed
- Classifies whether physical activity you are doing is light, moderate or intense
- You can receive guidance from a registered dietitian to help you reach your fitness goals.
The Cons of eaTracker:
- Users need to add in their food intake and each meal into the system
- Sometimes the food search does not include the exact item you consumed. Thus it can misrepresent the food intake on the nutrient breakdown
- Can be demotivating if you are not reaching your goals (this can also mean you are setting unrealistic or too high of goal)
- Users need to add their activities throughout the day in order to receive an accurate estimate of total calories burned.
How to use eaTracker – step by step (for beginners)
- Enter your basic information including sex, age, height, weight and physical activity level
- Enter specific goals you have. Be sure they are measurable and realistic within the time frame
- Starting inputting your food intakes for each meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Input your daily physical activity from anything as basic as going grocery shopping to doing a treadmill run. Be sure to add in the time in minutes for how long each activity lasted
- Input your own recipes if you find eaTracker doesn’t have what you are eating on a daily basis – make sure to save the recipe
- Favourite the foods and activities you find you are doing on a daily basis to make it easier to input data
- Learn how your Registered Dietitian can coach you and help you reach your fitness goals faster and make them long-term.
MyFitnessPal (MFP) is another very popular app which helps individuals keep track of their daily dietary intake, as well as energy expenditure. It can be downloaded on the phone and also accessed over the computer. MFP efficiently calculates the daily nutrients, calories and vitamin intake for you and provides several key features that can help monitor and guide you in making healthy lifestyle changes. It stands out from other self-monitoring apps because it offers some unique features such as a large database of current foods and community discussion forums.
Key features of MyFitnessPal (MFP):
In this feature you can input your weight goal, specifying whether you want to gain, lose or maintain your weight. MyFitnessPal also asks about your activity level and some other basic information such as gender, birthday, height and weight. You can then decide how much weight you want gain or lose per week (unless they want to maintain their weight).
2) Food Log
Active users of this app log their daily food intake into the system. To do this you need to go into the “Food” tab then enter everything you ate for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the snacks you ate throughout the day. You need to select the food closest to what you actually ate, by specifying the food brand and quantity. At the end of the day you can see your progress and goal timeline.
3) Input Commonly eaten recipes and foods
If there are certain foods that you eat often, you can favorite those foods in order to make it easier to select them regularly. You can also input your own recipes in the system if the food is either culture specific or not found in the search tab.
You can set daily reminders such as reminder to log in your meals or exercise reminders.
5) Nutrient Goals
You can also set calorie and macronutrient (fat, protein and carbohydrates) range you want to achieve per day. This can be done by clicking “calories and Macro” and adjusting them to a desired level.
6) Exercise log
You also get the option to add your exercises manually by specifying the type of activity you engaged in and other details such as duration and intensity. You can also record your steps by entering it manually or by syncing it with other apps and wearables, such as Fitbit, Withings and Jawbone.
7) Connect with the community
MyFitnessPal can bee used independently without sharing updates and progress with others, but if you choose, you can connect to the MyFitnessPal community by clicking on the “community” tab. Where you can introduce yourself and join discussion groups. This is where people tell their success stories, share tips and discuss about popular health topics.
The Pros of MFP
- MyFitnessPal has a very efficient and broad search tool with a food database of 32, 820, 00 different kinds of food to choose from. This makes selecting food more convenient and accurate for users.
- Users can log in their food and exercise of the day using their phones without having to go on the computer to input this data.
- It is suitable for everyone because users can personalize their experience by inputting their recommended calorie and macronutrient intake.
- People are allowed to engage with the community and receive guidance from other users of MyFitnessPal. This feature has been very motivating for people as well as informative.
- Daily reminders help remind users to input their foods and exercise activities on time daily.
- MyFitnessPal allows users to scan the barcode of several products, which brings up the exact food they consumed. This allows for a more accurate representation of their diet.
The Cons of MFP
- One of the biggest disadvantages of using MFP is that most of the foods in the current database have been added by people just like you, and may not have accurate amounts of calories and other nutrients, and distorted portion sizes. I would emphasize that you double check your food labels with the information on MFP when choosing the right products.
- MFP does not allow users to adjust the quantities of the food consumed according their intake. It gives choices from which users can choose from but not all choices given match the actual intake amount. For example, if you had 80 ml of apple juice, that may not be this quantity provided to choose from. This compromises the accuracy of your food log.
- This app is not able to scan all product’s barcode. User may just need to search and enter the product closest to what they actually ate.
- MyFitnessPal estimates the amount of calories you burned. However, it cannot figure out the actual number of calories burned because it doesn’t take in account daily activities (causal walking, standing etc.)
- Though MFP sends reminders and gives advice, these are general recommendations. There is no option for adding a coach (trained nutrition professional) at this time.
How to use MyFitnessPal – step by step (for beginners)
- Start by signing up and making an account
- Set up your profile by entering some basic information including weight, height, gender, date of birth and activity level
- Add a username, password and zip code
- Input your goals for daily calorie intake and macronutrient intake (fat, protein, carbohydrates)
- Set up any daily reminders you think are important such as eating more fruits/vegetables, remind yourself to fill in the food and exercise log
- Input data into your food log with the quantities consumed as you through the day (Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks) – to make your search easier you can scan packaged food barcodes, enter your own recipes and favorite commonly eaten foods
- Enter data in your activity log- make sure to specify time, duration and intensity to receive accurate number of calories burned
- At the end of the day, analyze how you did according to your goal- check if you have met the calorie and macronutrient range. Go under reports to see what your estimated weight will be if your day represent how your entire month will look like
- You can connect with the community by going under the community tab, where you can engage in ongoing discussions with other fellow users of MyFitnessPal.
- BONUS: Add me (ShaisthaRD) as a friend and allow me access to you diary by following these steps:
go to Settings > Sharing & Privacy Settings > Diary Sharing – and allow “Friend only”. You could also set a KEY and send it directly to me so no one else can see your diary. If you are interested in my coaching services I can send you feedback about your diary via email!