Favorite phone apps, Part 1: Nutrition

Every year, it seems like my cell phone is becoming more and more useful. I answer emails, make my grocery lists, read books, catch up on the news, shop and even control a light switch in my house all from my phone. Ok, I admit I love technology! I get {really} excited when I receive a new gadget as a gift or the newest update is available for my iPhone! So, why not use my phone as an aid to living a healthier life!? There are thousands of phone applications out there that are geared towards fitness and nutrition, but it’s hard to know which ones work and those that don’t.  So, I have decided to narrow down the list to some of my favorite nutrition and fitness phone apps! My hope is that this will be a convenient, and even fun, way to track your fitness and nutrition goals. First up, a few of my favorite nutrition apps!

My FitnessPal (free, Android & iPhone): 

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Think of this as your electronic food diary! This is, hands down, my favorite application/ website out there to track my fitness and nutrition goals, and the one I recommend to all of my clients. When signing up, you enter in basic information (age, height, weight) and your desired goals (maintain weight, loose weight, gain weight). From there, a recommended calorie level will be provided and be your guide when entering in your intake each day. {Remember, this is a general recommendation and for more specific guidance (and to make sure your calorie level is accurate), we are happy to provide a calorie estimation!} The best part of My FitnessPal, in my opinion, is the wide range of foods available. From restaurants to store brands at the grocery store, the database of foods on the app is the best I have seen. I also really like how you can scan a barcode to easily find a product you want to add for the day. You can also add water intake, analyze homemade recipes and enter in fitness minutes. The nutrient analysis is extensive and is not just macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) but also many vitamins and minerals. Once you enter in your day’s intake, you can look at your total analysis for the day- specifically, which nutrients you lacked and which ones you exceeded. One last aspect I really like is the fact you can enter in your information online or on your application – everything is located in the same account. This is an all around great food diary, and I recommend it for anyone wanting to follow a healthy lifestyle!

Fooducate (free, Android & iPhone): 

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This application has a variety of components including a tracker for your daily intake and weight similar to My FitnessPal. But, my favorite part of this app, is the ability to scan a product’s barcode to learn more about its nutritional makeup. It even analyzes nutrition labels based on your personal settings and preferences. They rank products from A to D (using their own standards) and provide healthy alternatives. For instance, in the pictures below, you will see an example product, Whole Foods 365 Tahini. The first screenshot shows the product details, letter grading and comments that reviewers have written. The second screenshot (or explanations tab) shows why the app ranked the product like they did. The next screenshot (nutrition tab) shows the nutrient breakdown and the last tab shows healthy alternatives to the product you are purchasing.

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*Once the app is downloaded, it requires you to create a log in and password. After setting that up, it will ask you to answer a variety of questions regarding your nutrition, weight and fitness goals as well as diet preferences (such as avoid GMOs, following a paleo diet, lower my blood pressure, etc). Remember, the suggestions on this app are general recommendations. You should not replace a doctor’s and/ or dietitian’s advice with the information provided in the app, but instead, use it as a resource to aid you.

HealthyOut (free, Android & iPhone):

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Eating Out does not have to be a detrimental part to your diet with the right resources (such as our Quick Bites series). This app serves to help you find healthier options at restaurants near you. Once the app is downloaded, you can immediately start searching for restaurants nearby or by plugging in a specific address/ zip code. From there, a list of restaurants will appear. Once you click on the restaurant, you will see a list of dishes that meet certain standards. You can click each dish to learn more about what makes it a healthier product – such as low fat, low calorie, balanced, etc.  It also provides ways to modify the dish to make it a healthier option. Lastly, if nutrient analysis is available for the dish, you will also see that. Here is an example of restaurants nearby a Houston zip code; I decided to choose Chipotle. Once you select a dish you are interested in, you can view ways to modify the dish and nutrition information. One other aspect I like is that you can filter a list of restaurants nearby by certain parameters like calories, ingredients, type of dish, etc.

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*We have not been able to analyze every dish on this app to ensure accuracy, so still be cautious when ordering. But hopefully, this will give you a quick and easy way to narrow down healthier options available when eating out. And as always, please contact us if you have any specific questions on eating out or requests for future Quick Bites posts!

Shopwell (free, Android & iPhone):

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This app, similar to Fooducate, assists with the grocery sopping process. However, the products you scan are analyzed more on your personal preferences. For instance, if I state that I am using this app for general health and my preferences are to avoid sugar and preservatives, the product will be analyzed taking those aspects into consideration. One thing I really like about this app is that it analyzes the ingredients as well, not just the nutrients. So for instance, the things that I want to avoid are in yellow (whether a nutrient or ingredient). The app also provides healthier suggestions for a similar product. One downside of this app is that it did not appear to have as extensive of a food database compared to Fooducate, but the personalization of the app makes it unique! This app might be especially helpful for someone looking to avoid an ingredient that may be found with numerous names – such as sugar, gluten or GMOs.

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*Once signing up for this app, you will be asked to select various goals or conditions that may apply to you – such as general health, gluten intolerance, pregnancy, weight management, etc.  You are then asked to narrow down to ‘things you want, things you don’t want and allergies or intolerances.’  With this, you are able to tailor the app to your preferences. Lastly, you are asked to enter in your age, height, weight and activity level or you can skip this. It will provide you a calorie level; however, as discussed before, these are just general recommendations. You should not replace a doctor’s and/ or dietitian’s advice with the information provided in the app, but instead, use it as a resource to aid you.

We will continue this series soon with more nutrition and fitness apps. But, in the meantime, talk to us! What apps do you use to help you reach your nutrition and fitness goals?

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  1. […] as many of us balance work and families.  We looked at how our phone apps can help with our nutrition goals, and we are back today to look at some of the most helpful fitness focused phone […]

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