Friday, March 2, 2012

Count Calories on the Go with the Mobile App Logo

I have never in my life counted calories and I never thought that I would.  I thought I was eating healthy, but I knew something must be wrong if I never lose weight.  As I mentioned before I started counting calories a couple days ago and I mentioned I was using an Android app to do so.  I am using's app to track my calories and exercise (Also available for iPhone and iPad).  

Example screenshot from app

Once you download the app, you will be required to create an account and fill in some personal details.  It asks for things such as age, weight, height, and daily activity level.  I believe it also asks how often you will be exercising.  Once completed with that it will ask what weight is your goal and how many pounds you wish to lose a week (within reason).  Finally, it will give you your recommended daily calorie allowance.

Now each time you eat, drink water, or exercise you pull out your phone and enter the details.  Exercises are pretty straightforward, for example you type push ups and hit search and then enter sets and reps.  If you search running it gives different speeds, but if you put strength training it will give sets, reps, and weight.  Exercises that burn calories will subtract from the food you have eaten for the day.  For example if you ate 1500 calories and went running and burned 500 calories, you would only have 1000 calories counted against your daily allotment.  MyFitnessPal does not count calories burned from weight lifting or strength training.

You can also add water which is just a nice way of keeping track of how much you drink each day.  Food is where the app really shines in that it is extremely easy and useful at the same time.  This morning I took a multivitamin, drank a low carb Monster, and ate a sausage and cheese muffin from Burger King.  While taking the multivitamin; I pulled out my phone, clicked on the app, hit add to diary, chose breakfast, and scanned the bar-code on the vitamin label.  The app scans the bar-code and puts the nutritional value into your diary.  I also did the same for my Monster, and searched for my breakfast sandwich.  Throughout the day you can look at your nutritional goals and see where you are in excess and where you are lacking. states that they have nutritional details for over 1 million foods!  If you can't find something you can add custom entries and even recipes.

The first day of calorie counting I really thought I was doing great, but at the end of the day I noticed that I had consumed about 90g of sugar over top of my allowed total.  Yesterday, I had more cholesterol than I should have.  I can see where my vitamin deficiencies might be and when I don't have enough protein in my diet.  The app stores all of these details and you can look back and see what foods you might want to avoid next time.

The app and website ( have a plethora of other features as well, the biggest being a social network.  I don't use this yet, but I might look into it.  From MyFitnessPal's research, those with friends on the service tend to lose 3 times as much weight as those that don't.  This is because you are not only sharing these details with yourself, but also with others who can hold you accountable or motivate you.  The site has forums, chat, and blogs to help motivate and educate.  On the website you can also run reports on various things such as nutrition, fitness, and weight loss.

Example report of my net calories consumed

At the end of the day each day, you can close out your diary for the day.  At this point it posts to your "wall" saying that you finished your day and how you did.  My favorite part however, is that after you finish for the day it pops up and gives you an update.  It is along the lines of, if everyday was like today you will weight XXX.X pounds in X weeks.  Last night mine said that I will weigh 221.5 (from 235) in 5 weeks, even if those numbers aren't true, it sure is a great motivation.  I have noticed over the last 2 days that at night I feel like I should have a snack before bedtime, I fire up the app and think to myself is it really worth it?  I imagine in my head how that one snack every night could be an extra pound lost each week and I forget all about having a snack.

Example of what you see at the end of each day

All in all, I think that this will really help me to keep track of my weight loss and exercise.  You can never have too many tools for this type of thing.  It is the convenience for me that makes this a real winner in my book.  If you would like to join me on the site, my username is ryanlthornton.  The Android market and iTunes links are below.

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