Lose weight. Improve your diet. Increase physical activity. Decrease sugar consumption. Increase calcium consumption. There’s a lot to keep track of in cultivating a healthy lifestyle. It takes daily vigilance, a little math, and a lot of record-keeping. But, as the slogan goes, “There’s an app for that.” In fact, there is more than one app for that, but two of the most popular ones in the U.S. for the iPhone are Lose It! and My Fitness Pal. Lets compare the two apps.
Lose It! and MyFitnessPal apps for iPhone both have a full web portal where users can log the same information they keep on their smartphones, as well as manage a few other things regarding your profile, goals, and so forth. As much as the website may come in handy for some—especially if you’re going to enter custom foods to the database—the apps offers a much more realistic way to track calories, because you theoretically always have your phone with you. The number of foods most people eat in a day can get out of hand quickly, so the best way to keep on top of logging is to do it several times a day. That’s why apps are the best medium for this job.
Lose It! App
While Lose It! is classified as a “healthcare and fitness” app, at its core it’s a calorie counter and exercise tracker. You use the app to record what you eat in a day, how much exercise you get, as well as your weight. If you choose to set a goal, such as lose a half a pound per week until a certain weight, Lose It! will help you figure out how many calories you should be consuming and burning in order to reach the target weight. From a Registered Dietitian standpoint, the estimated caloric needs are pretty accurate. In addition, I like that you can view your daily nutrients in a pie chart. A good goal is to shoot for 50% carbohydrate, 20% protein, and 30% fat consumption each day. This feature makes it easy to see what you need to eat more or less of to meet this goal.
Lose It! Food Database
Lose It! for iPhone does indeed help you log your calories burned and consumed while you’re on the go, but not easily as it could. The biggest disappointment was Lose It’s database of foods. The database lacks a lot of items that I (and surely other people) actually eat. Lose It! does offer users the ability to create a custom food in the database, so you can add anything that’s not there, but it can be time consuming. This won’t be a major problem for you if you tend to eat the same thing over and over because your food items will be stored under “My Foods.” In addition, Lose It! does have a convenient bar code scanner to assist with logging prepackaged foods.
The exercise logging section of Lose It! is good. Options for activities are fairly comprehensive and include all the basics, such as a variety of sports and all the cardio equipment you’d find in a gym. Record having done an activity, and you’ll enter the amount of time spent doing it, as well as the intensity level when required . If you integrate Lose It! with Fit bit, an online fitness tracker that comes with a smart pedometer, Lose It! can more accurately offset your net calories for the day based on how much you’ve walked, run, and climbed (stairs).
For those that can’t spell! The fact that there isn’t auto spellcheck can get disastrous. So if you type in more information to try and narrow down the results… the more you type, the greater the chance you’ve introduced a typo. One typo can kill the whole search. It’s a nuisance, and when you’re already cranky from trying to reform your diet, you really can’t make enemies with the app that’s supposed to be helping you.
More visual than some other calorie counter and exercise logging apps. Free. Integrates with other sites and services. Easy to enter the same meal or food items eaten more than once. Has a bar code scanner. Accurate in estimating caloric needs.
No spell check. Not the most extensive database of food. Requires diligent activity tracking for accurate intake recommendations. No metric option.
The free iPhone app Lose It!, designed for counting calories and logging exercise, can help you lose weight, especially if you tend to eat name-brand American foods. But for avid home cooks and those with a more international diet, there’s a better app for you.
MyFitnessPal is also a calorie counter and exercise tracker. It is a mobile app and website that gives you a wealth of tools for tracking what and how much you eat, and how many calories you burn through activity. You use the app to record what you eat in a day, how much exercise you get, as well as your weight. From a Registered Dietitian standpoint, the estimated caloric needs are a little high. Not a lot…but higher than I would recommend for weight loss needs. It also offers a lovely pie chart which allows you to view your macronutrients (carbs, protein, & fat) in percentages for the day.
You don’t need to know how many calories are in each food you eat. MyFitnessPal has a database of over 3 million food items, including individual foods, meals at chain restaurants, and branded foods from your grocery store. Good luck trying to stump the database!
Sometimes the massive database can be a bit overwhelming. Searching for food items often reveals dozens of choices, some with conflicting information. MyFitnessPal allows users to add their own information to the database which results in an abundance of information, not all of it correct. Use your best judgment in choosing which option to enter into your diary.
When it comes to logging exercise, MyFitnessPal scores. There are loads of different exercises to choose from, from running, to skipping. All you have to do is log the amount of time you spent doing the activity or, if you used gym equipment, you can log the amount of calories the gym equipment told you that you’d burnt. In addition, MyFitnessPal can sync with many additional apps and devices to track your calories burned accurately.
It has spellcheck. Enough said.
Enormous database of foods and drinks. Easy to log food, meals, and recipes. Works with a long list of other apps and fitness-tracking devices. Free. Has spellcheck.
Estimated caloric needs are a little high based on my Registered Dietitian expertise. Requires diligent activity tracking for accurate intake recommendations. Any users can add their own information to the database.
MyFitnessPal is one of the best calorie counter app for the iPhone. A simple design, excellent interface, enormous database of food, and huge network of supported apps and devices makes it hard to beat.
Of the two apps, if I had to choose between the two, I have to give the nod to MyFitnessPal, and the reason is the database.
MyFitnessPal did a better job picking up foods I like to eat on the go. For instance, I love Qdoba. When I wanted to add “naked burrito with chicken and guacamole” from Qdoba into MyFitnessPal it was in the database — but nowhere to be found on Lose It. But either way, if you start typing in what you eat in MyFitnessPal or Lose It!, you could end up carrying around less weight in 2015. And we would all love that, right?