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2.05.2015

Ask a Health Advocate: Is there an easy way to track my calories?

Are you looking to lose weight, change your eating habits, increase your fruit and vegetable intake, or watch your portion sizes? Or are you hoping to make more mindful decisions when it comes to how, when, and why you eat? If so, calorie counting could help you meet your goal, and there are lots of free and low-cost resources available to help you!

Studies show that tracking calories can improve one’s awareness when it comes to eating, especially for people who are looking to lose, maintain, or gain weight. In simple terms, calories can be thought of as energy needed to fuel the body. Depending on if you are trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight, your body needs to input a certain amount of calories and burn a certain number of calories every day. Therefore, tracking your calorie intake can help you with these types of goals.

There are a number of different calorie tracking apps and websites available that can help you get started tracking calories. Here are a few of the most popular apps and devices you may want to check out and choose from:

  • My Fitness Pal – Free smartphone app that tracks food and exercise; it offers a companion website for online tracking as well.
  • Lose It! – Free smartphone app that tracks food and exercise
  • My Net Diary – Free smartphone app that tracks food and exercise.
  • Fitbit – This popular fitness tracking device is a great way to track your exercise throughout the day and also offers a nutrition log where you can input your food/calorie intake. Offers both an app and companion website for online tracking.
  • LiveStrong Calorie Tracker – Free online tracker that also includes motivational tips from nutritionists.
  • MyPlate Super Tracker – Free online tracker that also provides sample menus and educational information.

Most of the apps and websites mentioned above have similar functions and benefits, including the ability to set goals, track your progress over time, connect with friends for support and more accountability, and the option to also track exercise. They also each have a vast database of food options including restaurant meals and/or barcode scanners to make inputting your calories easy. Many of them also give you the breakdown of different nutrients you are consuming so that you see the nutritional value of the foods you are eating along with your total caloric intake. Best of all, they are all convenient and easy to use!

There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to calorie tracking. Look into and try out a variety of apps and websites, and then choose the one that feels right for you.

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the Wellness Coaching program, reach out to your Wellness Coach for more recommendations on other helpful apps and resources.

Have a question for a Health Advocate? Email nhess@healthadvocate.com, and your question may be the topic of an upcoming “Ask a Health Advocate” column!