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Smart phones can be just that: smart.
By Pip Taylor
When the ability to track, monitor and educate is right at your fingertips, you are more likely to stick to resolutions and be more accountable for what you are eating. There are thousands of apps out there, and more being created every day. For more nutrition and training apps, check out the expanded version of this article online at Triathlete.com/nutritionapps.
Whether you want to gain or lose weight, change body composition, or just eat more fruits and vegetables, diet trackers are a great accountability tool. The best apps will not only track the macronutrient content of your diet (fat, carbohydrate and protein) but will also show other valuable targets, including sodium, micronutrients, etc., indicating where you might be falling short and where better choices can be made. But you need to be honest about portion sizes, and sometimes assumptions and estimates need to be made. Many trackers will also allow for exercise input, but don’t rely on the caloric budget generated by the app—a lot more goes into caloric requirement than can be determined by even the smartest apps. Use it as a guide and a personal reference only.
Some of the best:
Tap & Track—Calorie Tracker. Large database of common and brand/restaurant foods. Can be used offline and also has a Web interface you can sync with. (iPhone $3.99 also available for iPad $9.99) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tap-track-calorie-tracker/id307749752?mt=8
Calorie Tracker by Livestrong. Big brand backing and possibly the most popular of the diet trackers. Search will bring up just about every possibility, plus you can input your own foods and meals for easy adds. (iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry $2.99. Lite version for iPhone is free) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/calorie-tracker-livestrong/id295305241?mt=8
Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal. Another popular choice with a large food database and quick food entry. Allows you to make notes for both food and exercise outside of the daily log as well as track progess over time. Synchs with a web based interface. (iPhone, Andriod and Blackberry, free) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/calorie-counter-diet-tracker/id341232718?mt=8
Daily Burn (iPhone, free + BurnBot open source app for Andriod, free) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dailyburn-calorie-workout/id378928008?mt=8
Shopping, cooking and eating out
The key to eating well is first shopping well. Apps are an incredible resource, especially when you are traveling. Search for local healthy food choices, look up the nearest farmers’ market, check out what’s in season and what to do with it, or even compare best options from fast-food chains.
Some of the best:
Fooducate. Navigate food labels and ingredient lists—simply scan a product and it will give you some of the highlights and lowlights. Will even alert you to food recalls. (iPhone, Free) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fooducate/id398436747?mt=8
Seafood Watch. Shop for and eat sustainable and healthy seafood no matter where you are or what the season is. (iPhone and Android, Free) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/seafood-watch/id301269738?mt=8
Seasons. Locate farmers’ markets and what is in season locally. (iPhone $1.99) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/seasons/id300214071?mt=8
Whole Foods Market Recipes. Find the nearest Whole Foods market plus browse for healthy recipes including for various dietary requirements. (iPhone and iPad, Free) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/whole-foods-market-recipes/id320029256?mt=8
The Food Guide. A food reference, tips on selecting produce and seasonal guide. Nicer interface than Seasons, but no farmers’ market locator (iPhone $0.99) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-food-guide/id369641323?mt=8
Fast Food Calories. Handy for when you are travelling and stuck for choice. Brings you more than 100 of the most popular restaurants with their menus and nutritional information. (iPhone, free. Pro version without ads $1.99) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fast-food-calories/id402447013?mt=8
Restaurant Nutrition. Similar to Fast Food Calories and for both iPhone and Andriod (free) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/restaurant-nutrition/id285180322?mt=8
Zagat to Go. The guide for quality dining post race (iPhone, iPad and Android $9.99, BlackBerry $19.99) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zagat-to-go/id296428490?mt=8
Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List. When you’re stuck for inspiration or just clueless about what or how to cook something, recipe apps are a savior. If you can have just one cooking app, this might be it. Thousands of recipes and more added constantly plus the search options are unbeatable. Takes you from simple, quick, healthy eating all the way through to 5-star weekend cooking indulgences (iPhone, iPad and Android, free) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/epicurious-recipes-shopping/id312101965?mt=8
….a bit more specific: Need to avoid gluten? Dairy? Track your sugar intake? Plenty of apps can help you do this.
HappyCow VeginOut Guide. Uses happycow.net to help locate vegetarian and vegan options. (Android $1.89 and Lite version free)
VegOut. Not perfect, but great for travel, this app also uses happycow.net to locate vegetarian restaurants. (iPhone $2.99) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vegout-vegetarian-restaurant/id301275521?mt=8
VeganXpress. Takes some of the challenge out of finding something you can eat by pinpointing local restaurants, stores and other vegan-friendly options. (iPhone and iPad $1.99) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/veganxpress-menu-shopping/id307591991?mt=8
Is That Gluten Free? (iPhone and iPad $7.99) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/is-that-gluten-free/id324483597?mt=8
Diabetes Buddy – Control Your Blood Sugar – Help manage your diabetes by tracking, monitoring and planning (iPhone and iPad $4.99, Lite version FREE) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/diabetes-buddy-control-your/id387128141?mt=8
OnTrack Diabetes – (Android, free)
Allergy Translator. Simple, smart and essential if you are traveling to a foreign-speaking region. Choose your food allergy or restriction and the language and let hosts, servers and cooks know what you can and cannot eat. (iPhone $1.99) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/allergy-translator/id332715333?mt=8
Sports nutrition and training:
WADA Prohibited List 2011 (World Anti Doping Agency). Check your medication (prescription or OTC). A great resource for professional athletes and those who care about what is going into their bodies. (iPhone, free) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wada-prohibited-list-2011/id408057950?mt=8
iPee Daily. Helps you in creating your own hydration plan using urine color and body weight changes. (iPhone $2.99) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ipee-daily/id408625281?mt=8
Bluetooth Weight Scale. Collect and chart measurements from Bluetooth-enabled scales. (Android $0.99)
Fat caliper. Calculate body fat percentages by imputing skin-fold measurements from various body sites. There is a variety of standard equations and a guide to where and how each site is measured. You need your own calipers to take the measurements though. (iPhone $2.99) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fat-caliper/id360711195?mt=8