Nutrition Tracking Apps for All Levels!
Nutrition tracking can be a daunting, and overwhelming task. Some apps have you weigh your food. Some apps have you following a strict diet. Other apps are just happy when you eat more vegetables than usual. Because the market for this type of product is so large, it is hard to find what will work best for you. I've found three apps that I like best for tracking. One is very basic and just has you focused on eating healthier foods without logging every individual item. The second app allows you to track each individual item, but has a scan feature for the barcodes of products, which makes for a faster entry. The last app shows you exactly how many nutrients you should be consuming and at what time according to your sleep and exercise schedule.
***Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietitian or certified nutritionist, which means I am not qualified to tell you how much you should eat, or when. If you have a health condition, or are struggling with an eating disorder, please consult a professional before following the guidelines created by the tracking app you choose to utilize.***
Beginner Tracking App:
Start Simple with My Plate
The Start Simple with My Plate App, developed by the USDA, is an easy way to track your eating habits and improve your choices. This is not a calorie counting app by any means, and it is totally free. The app allows you to set healthy eating goals for each of the food groups. You can choose which goal you would like to accomplish in the app.
Some examples are:
Start Your Day with Fruit
Add Vegetables to Your Lunch
Have a Whole Grain at Dinner
Eat a Lean Protein
You can choose up to three goals for each food group. Upon completing the goal for the day, the app allows you to check it off the list. It will track your habits for each day. When it comes to your healthy eating journey, this is a good place to start. Creating more of an awareness of what we are eating allows us to create habits around choosing healthier foods before we begin to restrict calories. Having a solid foundation of foods you know you like to consume will make planning meals easier and more effective. I highly recommend starting here, because this app helps you get a better idea on how to create a balanced diet.
Intermediate Tracking App: Lose It!
For those who have been on a healthy eating journey for some time and would like to become more proficient in food journaling and/or calorie tracking, Lose It! is my app recommendation. There are many features in the free version of the app and even more if you subscribe to premium. The premium version allows you to track water, sleep, macro goals, and a few other things the free version does not. I will say that the free version gives you everything you need to be successful, but if you want to keep track of your journey as a whole, premium is the way to go.
In the app you can choose a goal, such as lose one pound a week, and the app will calculate the amount of calories you can eat a day in order to achieve that goal. Logging food is super easy! You can search for a food and choose an option that best fits. Because users are allowed to put in their own nutrition facts, these foods will show up when you search. Be sure to pick a verified option for the food you are logging. This will give you the most accurate calorie count. There is an option at the top right of the search page to only show verified foods. The foods that are verified have a green check mark next to them. Another great feature of this app is that it connects to third party activity trackers, such as Apple Watch, Apple Health, and FitBit. When you burn calories in a workout, it will automatically show up in the app. The app allows you to have these burned calories added into your food allowance for the day, or you can choose not to have them counted. Personally, this is the app I use for my tracking. After fighting the good fight with My Fitness Pal crashing all the time, I switched to Lose It! and have been using it since 2015.
Advanced Tracking App: RP Diet
The RP Diet app is really great! I'm sure you're going to ask "If you think it's so great then why do you use Lose It?" Thank you for asking! Because I cannot actively lift at the moment (shoulder surgery recovery), I am using an app that is less involved so that I still feel like I'm making progress. This journey is not linear and giving ourselves grace as our activity level and diet goes through changes is the key to being successful. Now, on to the app! RP lets you choose what type of plan you'd like to follow. You can lose weight, maintain your weight, or gain muscle. It will calculate your macronutrients based on the information that you provide them. Your daily schedule is also required in the app. By inputting your schedule, the app can tell you exactly when to eat, so that you are maximizing your nutrient intake.
Providing the app with your sleep schedule, and training schedule/ intensity, gives you a more accurate depiction of when you should be eating and how many macros you need to hit. A food scale is 100% required to utilize this app, so be sure to make that purchase before committing to this method. When logging your food, you will be able to scan barcodes for easy tracking. I will also mention that the RP app will not let you log food that exceeds your macro count. It is very rigid when it comes to what you're logging. It basically tells you "nice try," when you try to add too much food to a meal. This feature is nice because it creates an awareness of what portions should look like, and reiterates the fact that if you overeat any macronutrient, you will gain weight. RP Diet gives you a summary of how well you are following the plan and the streak of days you have logged. You will be able to track your weight in the app, as well. There is a graph provided as a visual aide to show your progress. This app does have a fee to use it, which is $15 a month. If you are looking to have a strict diet and really smash goals quickly, I 100% recommend this app.
Wherever you're at on your journey, there is a tool out there to help you along. Start Simple helps you create an awareness of your eating habits. It creates small goals for you to accomplish, so that you can start by adding healthy foods into your diet. Lose It! allows you to track individual foods or meals and helps you set a daily calorie limit. This app will also add in any exercise that is tracked by your third party activity tracker. RP Diet is the most advanced plan to follow. At $15 a month, this app controls your macronutrient intake based on your goal, sleep schedule, and training schedule. This is the most intense plan to adhere to, and should only be considered after months of successful use of an intermediate tracking app. The first step to conquering a healthy lifestyle is always awareness. What "bad" habits do you have that you'd like to replace? One at a time, starting overcoming those. Remember to celebrate the small victories so you do not become discouraged, and as always, reach out if you need some help!
To you, my Maiden Friend! -Coach Cojo