Boost your odds of success by tracking your calorie and fitness goals
In the March/April issue, Diabetes Forecast rounded up the best apps for helping you improve your diabetes management based on how many of the seven self-care behaviors they encouraged. In this issue, we’ve focused on apps that inspire a healthy lifestyle based on two of those behaviors: healthy eating and being active.
Some of the health and fitness apps on the market today—and there are thousands—are part coach, part cheerleader, and part educator to move you toward your goals. But how do you know which is best for you? Diabetes Forecast asked people with diabetes, health care providers, and diabetes educators about the apps they’re most likely to recommend for calorie counting, fitness tracking, and shedding a few pounds. Here are their favorites.
Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal
Food journaling is made easier with this popular app. Use it to log foods and see how many calories you’ve eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between.
How it works: You can track what you eat by finding most foods and drinks, along with their serving sizes and corresponding nutrition information, in the app’s searchable database. (Some 6 million foods are reportedly listed in the database, which compiles food details in two ways: It researches some items, and users submit nutrition information on other items, making their reliability less certain. This is a common drawback among many food-tracking apps.) You can use your smartphone to scan bar codes of brand-name packaged foods to log meals and calories. The app also tracks the amount of calories you burn through the physical activity and minutes you log. You can sync it with other apps, including fitness trackers and Apple Health. Use the forums on the app to ask questions, discover new recipes, and more.
Cost: Free for Apple and Android devices. Upgrade (for $9.99 per month or $49.99 per year) to get extras such as the ability to set different calorie goals for different days and view carbohydrate, fat, and protein by percentages instead of grams.
Fooducate (Apple) Fooducate Weight Loss Coach (Android)
Use this app—the name differs for the two systems, but they function the same—at the grocery store to help learn whether the products you’re choosing are nutritious.
How it works: Scan the bar code on the food package you’re considering buying—cereals, yogurt, snacks, and more—and the app will rate it based on its nutritional value. The app also will suggest comparable products and healthier choices. Plug in your weight-loss goals and get a daily calorie budget that the app tracks for you, taking into account how many calories you’ve eaten. The app’s community forum offers recipes and other support information. The app syncs with the Apple Health app, so your exercise and calorie data are stored in the same spot.
Cost: Free for Apple and Android devices. Several premium packages are available (for a fee, though cost varies based on the package) that allow you to personalize an eating plan, account for food allergies, and even see suggestions for the best food for your pets.
Apple includes a general health app on the iPhone 4S and newer models—no download necessary. The app collects your nutrition and exercise information for easy access and culls data from other apps you use for a clear picture of your progress.
How it works: Using a motion processor within the phone, the app tracks your steps and distance traveled, and it can use data from other fitness and food-logging apps to record your progress each day. Use it as a hub for all of your health information: exercise and nutrition figures, medical records, data from other apps, plus test results (including vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate). Only a few blood glucose meters will sync with Apple Health; for others, you’ll have to enter the data manually.
Cost: This is free and available on Apple devices only.
Set a goal and track your food and exercise with this app. Join a community of people also trying to get healthier and move more.
How it works: Take a photo of the meal on your plate to get the nutrition information you need. That’s the concept behind the SnapIt feature (currently in beta testing) on the Lose It app. Once your photo is uploaded to Lose It, you’ll get the calorie count for the foods and serving sizes it sees in the photo. Browse the app’s database of foods (some 7 million are reportedly listed) with nutrition information, or scan bar codes of packaged foods. The app offers a daily calorie count for you to maintain, based on your goals and taking into account how many calories you’ll burn from, say, a long walk.
Cost: The app is free for Apple and Android devices. Upgrade to Lose It Premium (for $39.99 per year) to plan meals in advance, set macronutrient goals, and more.