The Top Diet and Fitness Apps: Get Fit With Your Phone
Diet apps. Ugh. Just the thought of all that data entry, counting and tracking can be a little frightening. And that’s without those alarming charts and graphs that pop up without warning at the end of the day.
Numbers don’t lie. Perhaps that’s why we fear nutrition and diet apps. Do I really want to know how many calories are in the family-size bag of potato chips I ate for dinner last night? No sir, I don’t.
But rather than fear them, why not use numbers to your advantage? The fact is, accountability is a powerful thing. Accountability to a trainer (for those who can afford it) is an incredible motivator. Apps make us accountable to the most important person in the world: ourselves.
Collecting data offers us a lot of insight into our strengths and weaknesses in the realm of diet and exercise. What’s more, that data forces us to think twice before reaching for a second handful of gummy bears or grabbing that free donut in the lunchroom.
Bonus: dieting is way more fun with apps. In some ways, they far surpass our limited human brains. They can predict the optimum time for weight loss.They can recommend diet plans, exercise regimens and more. Significantly, fitness apps keep us honest and aware of what we eat, which is perhaps the most powerful tool of all.
Top 5 Diet and Fitness Apps
My Fitness Pal
Cost: Free! (iOs, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone)
Pros: In Consumer Reports’ survey of 9,000 readers, My Fitness Pal topped the charts. It is far and away the most popular health and fitness app on the market. Even better, it’s one hundred percent free. No gimmicks. No upgrades necessary.
MFP offers a user-friendly database of over two million food choices, even if selecting an exact match can be a bit daunting. This availability of already-calculated food information is extremely important when counting calories, since entering nutritional information manually is tedious and often exasperating. A free barcode scanner can also be used for easy logging. This app remembers your favorite foods and syncs automatically to store your information online.
Cons: It’s free, so expect advertisements. Most of the data is user-submitted, meaning it’s prone to error. Nutritional information, measurements and exercise stats can be unreliable. Verifying these figures can be time consuming and a bit of a pain.
My Plate by Livestrong
Cost: $2.99 USD (iOs, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7)
Pros: My Plate’s pretty, minimalist design makes it a joy to use. In addition to a large database of foods both homemade and store bought, the app offers a large variety of exercise and levels. For example, the app allows users to choose between hatha yoga, power yoga or Bikram’s, giving a much more accurate count of calories burned.
Got a late night craving for pizza or chicken wings? This app can recommend how much and what kind of exercise you’ll need to burn it off. Another major selling point that sets My Plate apart from similar apps is the motivational component. It comes with a built-in community of support groups, forums and expert Q & As.
Cons: A common fault among fitness apps, My Plate allow users to input age, height, weight and level of physical activity (sedentary, light, moderate, active), choose any weight loss goal no matter how unrealistic, and the app recommends an equally unrealistic calorie intake. Not recommended for extremists.
Tap & Track
Cost: $3.99 USD (iOS only)
Pros: Tap & Track’s main feature is that it’s available offline. For those looking to conserve data or simply spend less time online, this app is a good bet since all of its food databases are available sans internet connection. The calorie-counter allows users to build their own recipes, which can also be accessed offline.
This app is good bet for those who eat a lot of the same dishes regularly. The Tap & Track database includes 300,000 food items and 700 restaurants. Huge plus: this app has no ads, and their customer service is excellent.
Cons: While the pie charts and graphs are great for visual learners, they require a background in nutrition to be interpreted. Many food items are measured by servings or weight, which creates some ambiguity and can make for inaccurate results.
Zombies, Run! 5K
Cost: $7.99 (iOs + Android)
Pros: A revolution in the world of fitness apps, Zombies, Run! 5K is not just an app. It’s an audio adventure crafted by experienced actors and writers with an engaging storyline where the user is the hero/heroine. The story unfolds as you run with the playlist of your choice, taking your mind off the toil of jogging. With 23 missions to choose from, jogging will never be tedious again.
Cons: Running with a phone isn’t ideal. Also, if you can’t get excited about collecting supplies, ammo and medicine, or saving the post-apocalyptic world, you’re out of luck with Zombies, Run! 5K.
The fact is, there’s no software that can turn that caramel latte into a sprouted salad. Getting fit and staying healthy is a lifelong commitment that takes more than a few bucks and some simple software. There’s a lot more to good health than eating the correct number of calories daily.
What’s more, numbers actually do lie. Sometimes. We aren’t all built the same way. We don’t metabolize food in the same way. No machine should override what you know in your body to be true. What foods feel good to eat? What foods create good thoughts or help you sleep at night?
These are questions no app can answer. What an app can do is create more awareness and help us to be honest with ourselves about how we treat our bodies. Many of us eat too many calories and don’t get enough exercise. Apps can be useful for driving that point home.