Question:

What nutrition tracking apps do you recommend? There are so many and I want to know more than just calories.

Answer:

I’m glad you want to see how your present intake meets nutritional goals! The most comprehensive way is to use a diet analysis program with an extensive database, preferably based on the USDA’s Food Composition Database. Finding an app that can do what computer software or a website can do may be a challenge, but you can get close since the database is public domain and can be accessed by app developers for free.1

Track by Nutritionix is comprehensive, boasting the largest verified food database.2 Consider MyFitnessPal, one of the top dietitian-recommended apps.3 If at goal weight, you may want to focus on nutrients not calories, like Foodility does.4 Calorie Counter by FatSecret offers the ability to see your average for the month, giving you an overall picture.5 Which app you choose may also depend on cost, ease of use, user reviews, and other factors tracked or calculated. Yazio includes an extensive exercise list6 while MyPlate Calorie Counter also helps you keep track of water intake.7

Don’t forget that to get an accurate assessment or your diet, tracking several days is best. Enter everything you eat and drink, the amounts, the actual method of preparation, and all condiments for at least 3 days. The more detailed and specific you are in entering what you ate, the more accurate the report will be. Technology is improving, and the ease is tempting, but don’t exclusively rely on photographic or scanned UPC label inputs.

Though assessing your diet can be an impetus for change, there is no need to constantly analyze what you’re eating every week. What you do with the information gleaned is more important than religiously recording intake. We could all stand to replace smartphone minutes with activity anyway!

Disclaimer: Author and Fitness International, LLC does not endorse or promote any particular nutrition app. Those mentioned are for reference and comparison only.

References:

  1. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/doc/index
  2. https://www.digitaltrends.com/home/amazon-alexa-adds-nutritionix-food-tracking/
  3. https://www.businessinsider.com/best-calorie-counting-apps-lose-weight-2019-3
  4. https://foodandnutrition.org/from-the-magazine/foodility-ios-version-1-1-9/
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-best-calorie-counters#section3
  6. https://www.trustedreviews.com/opinion/best-calorie-counter-apps-5-best-food-diaries-for-android-and-ios-2943730
  7. https://wa-health.kaiserpermanente.org/best-diet-apps/

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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