“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Steve Jobs
Making small talk at a recent dinner party, I met a woman who shared a common addiction to iPhone and iPad apps. Instead of the usual small talk, we had fun discussing our favorite tips, tricks, shortcuts, apps and “must have” gadgets. Steve Jobs would have loved our conversation because we are huge fans of Apple mobile devices.
Surprisingly, my new acquaintance’s favorite app was Tap & Track because it had helped her lose 25 pounds
She said she had more to lose but was confident that she had finally discovered her weight loss solution. Her overall goal was to try to eat more healthy but she didn’t obsess with perfection. She ate whatever she wanted as long as she stayed within her daily allotment.
At the party, she was enjoying the usual combination of healthy and high calorie foods. Tap & Track app kept her on track to not exceed 1,500 calories per day.
According to a Kaiser Permanente study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, dieters who keep daily food journals lose twice as much weight as dieters who keep no records
You will consume fewer calories by simply recording your food choices. Recording adds accountability and awareness. With her enthusiasm, this party attendee reminded me of the benefits of having a food journal.
SparkPeople Diet Tracker App Review
Awhile back, I had tried SparkPeople Food and Fitness Tracker App to track exercise and calories because I loved their community forums. Their app proved to be too time consuming and boring for me. Since the SparkPeople app was already on my iPhone, I decided to see if they had made improvements.
I entered my favorite foods. Several of specialty items, store brands and supplements were not in their database.
If you eat the same meals every day, the one time meal entries could be saved and tomorrow the meals could be recalled and entered in a few seconds. However, if you vary your meals and your foods are not in their database each SparkPeople meal entry can be tedious.
Bottomline: Through the years, calorie counting and food journaling with SparkPeople has not gotten better with age. Their manual system was too time consuming for me. SparkPeople has one of the best online communities, a great support system and this app has videos of different fitness exercises for inspiration. You can’t beat free so not a bad app to have for reference but there are much better apps to use daily.
Tap and Track Calories App Review
Next stop on my search for the perfect food journal app was Tap and Track. This app was highly recommended by my party acquaintance so I went online and discovered it was $3.99.
While the price wasn’t a deal breaker, I decided to read the reviews first and see if it was substantially better then the extensive list of free apps available. Turns out that many users loved the app but many complained that they wanted a bar code reader.
When I had looked at food journaling apps a few years before, this feature wasn’t an option. Decided to check out recommendations for free apps with bar coding.
After looking at the interface and reading a lot of reviews, this app is very similar to the manual entry method of SparkPeople which I had abandoned as too tedious. The woman who had recommended this app needed an offline food journaling system for her needs. Since I work from home, I wanted an online system with more bells and whistles.
Bottomline: Tap and Track is the perfect choice for those who have no internet access during the day or want to keep their bandwidth usage charges down. $3.99 is a small one time price to pay for offline access. If you have a limited data plan, this app will save you money in the long run.
MyFitness Pal Food Journaling App Review
Many reviewers on other apps pointed me to MyFitnessPal app because of their bar code reader. After downloading the free app, I entered the same meals that I had entered with SparkPeople.
What a night and day difference, you just hit the bar code icon next to the search field, align your camera over the bar code and magically your product nutritional information will appear. Input is fun, fast and amazingly easy. Your only adjustment will be for serving size.
In some of the other apps, reviewers complained that their favorite store brands were not in the database. I put MyFitnessPal to the test with supplements, herbs, Trader Joe’s store brands and specialty mail order food items. Amazingly MyFitnessPal was never stumped. It had all the nutrition information for all my items plus the exact product name.
For fitness tracking if your walking goal is 10K steps a day, you have to make adjusts with all the apps I downloaded. Most of the time you just have to choose a walking speed and input the walking time to come up with an equivalent for calories expended.
My new daily Bullworker workout is not in any app database that I tried but I was able to enter it manually in every app including MyFitnessPal.
MyFitnessPal deducts calories burned through exercise. This means that if you have a 1,500 calorie per day goal, MyFitnessPal says you can eat 2,000 calories per day if you burn 500 calories walking.
Talk about positive feedback! You quickly see the benefits of combining exercise and reducing calories with this app.
Bottomline: MyFitnessPal app is an elegant, intuitive interface with the most extensive database of any food journaling app that I tried. If you have Internet access, you can’t go wrong with this app. Input is easy, their community support system is inspirational and their social networking capabilities are exceptional.
Calorie Count Food and Fitness Journaling App
Calorie Count had a pleasant surprise. Turns out this app has voice recognition PLUS bar code scanning PLUS an easy way to enter just the calorie count for an item.
Voice recognition was super accurate and made input a total joy. Nothing could be easier.
This app would have been my hands down favorite except for one major problem . . . . my supplements, Trader Joe’s products and mail order speciality items weren’t in their database. Friends call me a Trader Joe’s fanatic so seeing misses on all my favorites was a total bummer.
Wish I could introduce Calorie Count to the wonders of Trader Joe’s because I am sure they would be a match made in heaven.
Bottomline: Calorie Count app with its voice recognition and bar code reader has the fastest and easiest input of all apps reviewed. Plus their analysis page is packed with information. It allows you to see your overall progress in a glance plus you can add water intake without having to navigate to another screen. However, if you shop at speciality stores, their database is small in comparison to MyFitnessPal’s database.
So which was our favorite food and fitness tracking iPhone app?
MyFitnessPal’s extensive bar code and food database never failed to find a match. Since Trader Joe’s is my favorite food store, I will use MyFitnessPal as my daily food journal. Wish they had a voice recognition feature which would make their system totally incredible.
Calorie Count app is, also, a keeper. As a programmer, I know that updating their database for specialty stores and products is super easy in comparison to the difficulty of all their other programming for this app. Any day my food favorites could appear.
We recommend that you download MyFitnessPal and Calorie Count free apps. You can lose weight, track your fitness, make new friends and share your passion for iPhone apps at your next party. What could be a better combination? Anyone who is fascinated with iPhone technology will love both apps.