Food diaries are so 2000. But are they? Writing down and tracking what we eat for successful weight loss has been suggested by professionals for decades, and while some people love the idea of writing down every single thing they put in our mouths, putting pen to paper can be tedious, time consuming, and just plain annoying. But there is truth in knowing what we are putting in our bodies and how much junk vs good we are consuming. Dietitians, nutritionists, and doctors have been recommending a food diary for their patients wanting to change to a healthier lifestyle and shed some unwanted weight. By writing down what you eat will not only keep you on a healthy lifestyle track but will also shed some light on the unhealthy food you’ve been eating and possibly aiding in health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and so on.
Really, there are two main factors in tracking what you eat.
The time it takes to write down what you eat at each meal (yes, including snacks and grazing) will either make you want to eat simple, clean, easy to track food and/or cause the grazing to stop because you simply don’t want to write it down.
Finding out that you stop at fast food joints one too many times or you drink an obscenely amount of coke or sugar filled drinks throughout the day is a great way to realize how much unhealthy products we consume.
So, it’s almost 2018 and the idea of actually using a paper journal and pen to write down every little thing we put in our mouth has gone to the wayside.
Cue Smartphones and say hello to Food Tracker Applications!
Yes! Now you can download apps that allow you to track your food for each day. And not only can you track your food, you can input how many calories you’ve burned that day from walking or exercising! There are even apps that are specific to certain diets like those people wanting to manage their carbohydrate intake.
The options are endless when it comes to wanting to help yourself transition to a healthy lifestyle and adding a food tracker app to your smartphone is the perfect place to start! But you may also be thinking “isn’t this just the same thing as actually writing down what I eat? I’m just using my finger to punch in every food I consume?”
Yes, in a way it is but so many apps have so many cool, easy, quick features that it can literally take someone just a few minutes to log their breakfast, etc.!!
Okay, so now you’re wondering which app to download, right? As someone who has experimented over the years with food tracker apps there are a few that stand out and I would highly recommend. I’ve made a list of my top 5 apps. Yes, there are a TON of apps you can use but I tend to lean towards the FREE ones!
For all of the food tracker applications, each one will ask for your age, current weight, and height. It will then ask what your goal weight is, how much you exercise (none, moderate, active, very active) and some ask how many pounds you want to lose each week. These questions help determine how many calories you should consume. Also, some applications let you set your Macros, or Macronutrients to achieve a weight-loss or weight-gain goal. These are the energy-giving caloric components derived from food which we are all familiar with: Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins! Once this information is complete, the app will let you know how many calories to consume each day to either lose weight, gain weight, or maintain weight.
Now you’re ready to begin inputting and logging food. It’s as easy as that! And to make it even super easy and fast, a majority of these food tracker apps have a bar code scanner so you can scan the bar code on the bag of chips or any food item with a bar code and enter how much of if you ate and the app will store it for later! It’s important to read the labels on the food you’re eating so when it’s entered into the app you know the portion size or serving amount you’ve eaten. Again, this helps the app figure out the exact amount of calories/carbs/fats/proteins and other important nutrients you’ve consumed!
So, here are my Top 3 lists of Food Tracker Apps I have used, tested, and recommend.
All of these are FREE; however, each offers a “Premium” upgrade with a nominal monthly or yearly charge, which you can try out for a one-month “free-trial” period!
**Please Note: The detailed information of the apps features listed below were provided by the application creators and found in each application details overview, which anyone can access.
#1. MyFitnessPal (MFP): $9.99/month or $49.99/year
Extremely User Friendly and Quick Food Entry!
6+Million foods in their database (start typing in a food and they will most likely have it! Example: Butter, Whole Wheat Bread, etc.)
Recipe Importer- Easily import the nutrition information for the recipes you make; you can either do this manually, or input the URL where you found the recipe (Pinterest, Food Network or any website) and it will easily import it for you!
Restaurant Logging- Log menu items from your favorite restaurants!
Personalized Experience- Create our own foods, recipes, and meals and save favorites!
Calorie Counter-MFP automatically calculates the calories in your foods, meals, and recipes.
MFP tracks ALL Nutrients- Calories, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, sugar, fiber, cholesterol, vitamins, and more.
Customize your Food Diary- Track breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Water Tracking- Log how much water in cups, ounces, or ml you consume each day.
Chose a goal- MFP supports weight loss, weight maintenance, and weight gain goals.
Goal Setting-Create your own goals or let the app create personalized goals for you.
Sync your workout with 50+ apps and devices
Choose or create your own exercises & workouts to log calories burned. This includes cardio exercises (running, walking, biking, swimming, yoga, pilates, and more) and weight lifting exercises (reps, sets, and weight per set).
The app has so many great features it’s fun to use and it really does make logging your food quick and easy!
#2. MyNetDiary: $8.99/month or $59.99/year
Super User friendly & Quick Food Entry!
Over 700,000 verified food database & updated daily
Customizable home screen-user picks what they want to see.
Not just calories and Macros to track; choose over 45 nutrients to see
Best Privacy-Does not require account creation
Built-in barcode scanner
Searches foods as you type for quick and easy logging
Syncs with MyNetDiary.com for online tracking
Syncs with fitness trackers and scales from FitBit, Garmin, etc.
PDF reports to print or share
PhotoFoodService- if a food is not in the database, send a photo from the app and they will add it!
Weekly diet analysis intelligent, comprehensive feedback.
Over 500 activities and exercises
Built-in GPS walking/running-no other apps needed.
Syncs workouts with iOS Health app
Set target weight, Plan for your target weight loss rate, Plan Macros
Track body measurements, test results, cholesterol, meds and symptoms.
Log foods, water, and weight
Connect with friends and a community forum supported by a Registered Dietitian!
Get daily tips
Another great user-friendly app to help lose, maintain, or gain weight! Check out more information about the app at http://www.mynetdiary.com
#3 Lose It! $39.99/year
User friendly & quick food entry!
Search their database or use their barcode scanner to enter food
Log food by simply taking a photo! Snap It is a feature within Lose It! That makes food tracking as easy as taking a picture.
Track calories, macronutrients, water, health, and body measurements goals.
Connect trackers, apps, and devices like FitBit, Misfit, HealthKit and more.
Set up different challenges for exercise and weight-loss motivation!
Serving Size Guide-use to get guidance for help determine portion size.
Meal Targets- calculates suggested calories per meal based on your plan to encourage more confident meal choices.
Meal Planning- customize your meal and snack names for more accurate records (Second Breakfast, perhaps?!); Do high fat breakfasts keep you on track? Learn about your eating habits and patterns to help identify what is helping or hindering your progress!
Check out more information about the app and its creators by visiting: http://www.loseit.com
There you have it folks!
Start your healthy lifestyle journey by downloading a food tracker app today! Keep in mind, there is a plethora of food tracker apps available so find the one that you think is right for you! I actually have all three of these apps on my phone but I use MyFitnessPal app the most, however, they all do a great job tracking my food and exercise programs.
Knowing what you are putting in your body is the first step in bettering yourself and your lifestyle and having a tool like a food tracker app will make your weight-loss or weight-gain/maintenance journey so much easier!