The Takeaway: Calorie control is a staple among all of the popular diets. You can use technology to help manage your calorie intake, and to help reach your health and fitness goals. Consider MyFitnessPal, MyPlate, or a calorie counter to help you track.
Today, there are countless obstacles that keep people from living healthier lives. Thankfully, technology can provide useful resources against the factors which otherwise keep us from our goals. Whether that goal is losing body fat or gaining lean muscle, it’s paramount that you consume the appropriate amount of calories.
Thousands of people are looking to the web for their nutrition and exercise related advice. Two of the most popular websites for tracking calories and exercise are MyFitnessPal.com and MyPlate by Livestrong.com. These websites can turn your average, slightly unhealthy, person into a nutrition and fitness nerd, mainly because it makes calorie and exercise tracking fun with interactive features and infinite health information. However, you want to invest your time in the best possible resource, because if tracking your data isn’t convenient, you won’t continue doing it. This article will review MyFitnessPal and LiveStrong’s MyPlate, two of the top online services available.
First, you’ll want to look for which service is going to take less time out of your day. Using MyFitnessPal is fairly quick, as you can easily search for foods eaten and add them to your daily list under breakfast, lunch or dinner. There’s also a “quick add calories” option if you know the amount of calories in your meals, but don’t want to find the individual foods. However, MyPlate does the same process with 3 screens less and is therefore much faster. You can even preview a food’s nutritional information while searching before adding to your daily list. When inputting foods day to day, this adds up for big time savings.
The next thing to consider is the food database. These are the lists that include most commonly eaten foods. Both MyPlate and MyFitnessPal have a great variety of grocery store foods, restaurant items and even supplements. Also, both allow you to create your own foods or recipes in case something you eat isn’t listed. Both rank well in this category. Furthermore, both websites have very accurate data on the calorie, vitamin and mineral content of their listed foods.
When tracking calories, it’s important to take into account the calories that are expended through activities and exercise. Both websites allow you to input any exercise you do and they automatically calculate the approximate amount of calories burned from that exercise. MyPlate has some neat features like tracking your average heart rate and distances, but MyFitnessPal only inputs calories and not much else. Calorie estimates are not 100% accurate, but they are close enough to keep the average person in line with their goals.
If you think these website tools sound practical, you’ll be excited to hear that both have super easy phone applications that make all this tracking even simpler. The MyFitnessPal app is very intuitive, simple and seems to be even faster than inputting foods on the regular website. You can easily add foods eaten, exercise completed and even scan bar codes of food products for their nutritional information (something MyPlate doesn’t include). MyPlate provides the same basic functions with a slightly better home screen and fun progress reports. The only downside is that MyPlate will cost you $2.99 for their app, while MyFitnessPal is free.
As far as all the other features, LiveStrong’s overall website is more in-depth than MyFitnessPal. The MyPlate calorie tracking service links with dozens of other features like community challenges, health “dares” for motivation and detailed articles on related nutrition and exercise topics. It is basically an entire social media experience centered around health and fitness. Those who want simplicity or those who are not technologically savvy may find MyPlate’s feature rich site overwhelming.
MyFitnessPal has some great additional benefits too, like success stories, the ability to share food diaries and some social media input, but it just doesn’t match up to the infinite data on MyPlate. In the end, the decision between these two websites may come down to your individual preferences. MyPlate is a little more difficult to use but provides greater functionality while MyFitnessPal is simpler but has less features.
Lastly, if you’re just not interested in using the web on a daily basis, take a stroll by your local electronics store for some of the new calorie counting gadgets. There are intelligent heart rate monitors, high tech watches and even Wi-Fi linked scales that provide super accurate data on calories, percent body fat and other measures. Weigh individual factors like cost, convenience and goals to determine what the best fit may be for you.
If you’re trying to improve your health and you only have enough time and commitment reserved for one or two changes, calorie tracking is a great place to start. Since most weight goals are centered around calorie control, keeping track of your calories covers the biggest obstacle in achieving your goal. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you already know a great deal about the foods you eat and activities you do. Many exercise and nutrition experts still rely on these technological tools to stay on top of their habits. Picking up on these latest health resources will keep you accountable and ensure success in your efforts toward living a healthier life.
About the Author: Trainer T. is an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, founder and owner of TD Fitness. Follow Trainer T. and TD Fitness on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter to receive posts like these in your inbox.