Five apps that help dieters track food intake, exercise

Posted Friday, Apr. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Time is running short to get ready for swimsuit season. Not to worry. Losing weight (or just maintaining your current hot bod) can be as simple as keeping a food journal.

Rebecca Dority, instructor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at TCU, says keeping a food journal is a great way to reach health goals.

"I think that many people are surprised at how much mindless eating contributes to overall caloric intake during the day -- especially unplanned handfuls of snack foods, candy and so on," she says.

Dority says that keeping a food journal can make you more aware of the foods you consume and keep you accountable in choosing wiser options.

"My first recommendation for starting a food journal is finding an app or online tool to make the process easier," Dority says. She recalls keeping a paper food journal, looking up each item that she consumed and then writing it in a notebook she took with her everywhere. "That is still certainly an option, but now there are many advanced options that include food items, including brand-name items and restaurant foods."

Dority also suggests writing down the foods you consume right after eating them. "I suspect that [by the day's end] most people would have difficulty remembering every food item they consumed during the day," she says.

Her final recommendation for beginning a food journal: Measure and input accurate portion sizes. This can be a daunting task, she says, but over time it becomes easier to visually estimate portion sizes.

Ready to get started? Here are five apps that can help you on your way. Happy tracking!

The Eatery

Price: Free

Compatible with: iPhone

Think Instagram meets food tracking. If actually "journaling" sounds like too much work or just isn't your thing, you can use this app to snap pictures of your food. Users are given a breakdown of strengths, weaknesses and ideas for improvement. Because the app provides more than just calorie counting, it can make the process of keeping a food journal a little more fun and creative.


Price: Free

Compatible with: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone

By far one of the top-rated apps for calorie counting, MyFitnessPal has more than 2 million foods in its database, and even includes fast food and an exercise entry. The app comes with a free barcode scanner so you can easily find foods you've eaten before. It even syncs online and is available offline as well -- great for plane rides or in areas where Internet connection is unavailable.

MyPlate Calorie Tracker by Livestrong

Price: Free Lite version; upgrade version $2.99

Compatible with: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone

With access to MyPlate, which includes more than 1 million foods and fitness items, the calorie tracker allows you to track not only food and restaurant items, but also fitness goals and water intake. The free version does not include synchronization between devices or with, but if you choose to upgrade to the full version later, your data will be moved over.

MyNetDiary Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker

Price: Free; Pro version $3.99

Compatible with: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone

This app is equipped with a database of more than 475,000 foods, with lightning-fast food entry that searches for results as you type. Like MyFitnessPal, this app includes a free barcode scanner and free website access, and works great offline.

Lose It!

Price: Free; Premium account $39.99 per year

Compatible with: iPhone, Android

Lose It! has taken the concepts of calorie tracking and peer support and stuffed it into one handy app. Adding new foods to the existing comprehensive database is easy, and you can quickly sync your journal online once you set up an account. One thing that sets this app apart from other similar free apps is the lack of advertisements. Given the rave reviews and its track record for helping people lose weight, Lose It! can have you slimming down and shaping up in no time and at no cost.

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