Over the summer I had the pleasure of having two volunteers work with me at Fuel Up Nutrition. One of the projects I had planned was to create a personal review of today’s most popular nutrition apps. I had one of my volunteers download 5 of the most common nutrition apps on today’s market. She spent a period of time trailing each of these apps and created a personal record of her experience. Below is a review of her experience with each app. Hopefully, this will provide you all with some insight into today’s world of nutrition apps available. Both pros and cons are provided!
“A Personal Review of Today’s Most Popular Nutrition Apps” – Marika Laird, Nutrition Student
Below is a chart summarizing my experience using five of the most popular nutrition apps. This experience is personal and your opinion may differ, but all-in-all my experience was positive. While these apps all offer similar platforms, each differs depending on your personal goals. In totality, these apps are most beneficial for those wishing to track eating and fitness habits for a goal – most popularly weight loss.
The App Chart – for a clearer view of the above chart click this link
Considering these apps mainly offer the same content with minimal differences, including subscription add-ons, the decision on what app to use might be confusing you. So, what is the best route for nutritional planning? The answer may surprise you.
With all these apps, time is an issue. To log and track all your foods requires a large amount of effort and in some cases stress. I found I was always worried about what I was eating because I wanted to make sure I could find it in the food database. It was easy to forget to log because days are busy and it’s not a habit of mine. In saying this, I found I did eat healthier using the apps because it was a literal log of my eating and it made me aware of the quantity and quality of my food.
Nutrino is the anomaly, not calorie tracking but instead meal-planning to help those who find healthy eating stressful and time-consuming. The largest downside is the cost of the subscription. But for some, the benefits would outweigh the low monthly cost of around $5.00 per month. I didn’t pay for any subscriptions apart from Nutrino, which I use mainly during the school year to help in meal-planning. I find the stress of planning meals while studying is too much, so this app has helped me continue to eat healthy while on-the-go.
If you are looking for help staying on track with your journey to a healthy lifestyle, starting off with MyFitnessPal, MyNetDiary, Lose It!, or MyPlate might benefit you. After using them all, the differences were so minimal that the better app truly does depend on the user. The biggest issue for me was ease of use and format of the app itself since the content was very similar across the board. I am most comfortable with MyFitnessPal and find that its longtime reign as the most popular nutrition app makes syncing it with other apps seamless. Its competitors have continued to improve on themselves by adding popular logging features so I would give them all a try to see which form you prefer. Seeing as they are all free, there really isn’t a downside.
An important point about nutrition logging is the connection. These are all apps, tied into technology. Our usage and dependence on apps and software to manage our lives can be consuming. I have had to acknowledge the increased stress of managing so many devices in recent years and make a point of disconnecting myself in ways that calm me and reset me physically and mentally. Everyone has their own “peace”, mine being biking, hiking or camping. In all three, I ditch the phone and just enjoy the moment outside – whether it be with friends, family, or just me alone with my thoughts. Having to e-mail, text, phone, Facebook, instant message, Instagram, Snapchat… (you get the idea), makes me stressed just thinking about it. Adding something else to manage isn’t for everybody and does add unneeded stress. Eating is a frequent and necessary part of life, and shouldn’t be something else you need to control and hyper-manage.
If you’re looking for a long-term solution for weight loss, or even to manage your weight, constricting yourself to calorie counting is not sustainable. These apps are beneficial for those who need help with accountability for their dietary and fitness choices. Otherwise, the stress of managing these apps might not be worth it. Therefore, as a start to creating a long-term lifestyle change, these apps are perfect… but really do keep in mind that diets, in general, can be mentally stressful and lead to unhealthy mindfulness. These apps also have food databases where anybody can create foods and isn’t a Dietitian-level database. This means the foods you are logging may not be nutritionally accurate and the number of calories they are suggesting doesn’t consider the individual or their lifestyle – only your height and weight. Overall, I wouldn’t suggest depending on calorie counting to maintain weight long-term. It is a helpful foundation to create healthy habits. Most importantly, if you have dietary restrictions or health issues, contacting a professional will be the safest and most effective option.
Karly Meincke, BASc, RD
Registered Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist