Just like counting calories or sorting socks, tracking what you eat all day every day can be a bit of a chore. But if you’re looking to lose some weight, you may want to try it, says Michelle Blum, nutritionist, and owner of Nurtish Mish. In fact, she’s noticed that her clients who track their food consistently lose 80 percent more weight than those who don’t.
You could keep a handwritten food diary, but you may find it easier to manage on your phone. It’s always on us, after all. Plus, with food tracking apps, you’ll get much more intel into what you’re eating. Some even look for patterns, like when you’re eating, where you’re eating and who you’re eating with, so you can get a better idea about what may be causing any digestive issues, where you can cut back or if one of your friends is a bad influence when it comes to dining out.
That said, apps don’t always perfectly translate all information. “For example, if you use a specific brand of a food, selecting a seemingly similar brand might give you inaccurate data if the nutrition information varies, which usually it does,” says Blum.
She adds, “App users need to be mindful that the information a food tracking app will give you is only one piece of the puzzle. If your calories seem to be on track, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee you will lose weight, because calories might not be your problem. But that is a limitation of the technology.” Bottom line: Make sure you’re using the best food tracker for your weight and/or eating goals.
Blum shared information about two of her favorite food tracking apps to help keep you on track.
Blum recommends MyFitnessPal because it has one of the largest food databases with almost 2 million items. “My Fitness Pal has the ability to track exercise, scan foods, track water, remember recipes and meals that you enter, and it has social function, which makes it fun,” she says. On top of food tracking, you can also input any workouts you’ve done to see how many calories you burned.
Rise Up is another one of Blum’s favorites because it can track your mood, location, and who you were with when you ate. “This helps you become more in tune with your own eating habits,” she adds. The app also provides a daily inspirational quote, a podcast, a blog and empowering Spotify playlists.
No matter what app you think is best for you, always remember to take the suggestions and total calorie count with a grain of salt. Apps like Rise Up and My Fitness Pal are simply a guide, but the truth is, you’re the one in charge.