By Jonathon Stavres MS, ACSM-EP-C
In previous blogs, we discussed the benefits of activity trackers, such as pedometers, accelerometers, or even However, there is another type of tracker that can aid in weight maintenance, and that is a calorie tracker.
While an activity tracker keeps record of step counts or “moves” with the goal of surpassing a certain threshold, calorie trackers keep record of food consumption with the goal of not surpassing a certain threshold. Some may think that needing assistance to track calories is unnecessary; actually, it is quite difficult to know exactly what you are eating when nutrition labels aren’t readily available.
For example, if you cook a beef pot roast, you would need to know the caloric content of different grades and cuts of beef to estimate how many calories you’re consuming with relative accuracy. That is where a calorie tracker comes in handy. These are often presented as applications on smart phones, but can also be accessed through any computer or tablet.
These smart phone apps record calorie consumption
A study by Franco et al. (2016) found thirteen popular (highly downloaded) smart phone apps that all recorded portion sizes and included a data base that already assigned caloric values to various portion sizes of specific food. Some of these applications also had barcode scanners that could simply scan the barcode of a purchased food item and record it into your daily log.
As you eat throughout a day you can simply pull your phone out and either select an item from a very wide-reaching database (a lot of the caloric values come from ADA recommendations) or scan an item you just purchased and automatically update your calorie count.
In order, to identify what your individual daily limit is, these apps will ask you to enter your daily weight and calculate your basal metabolic rate, which is one of the primary factors that influences caloric recommendations.
The app will also ask you for your fitness goal. This could be to lose a certain amount of weight in a certain time, or to gain weight if that is your goal. As you enter your weight in each day, your caloric recommendations will be automatically updated.
Many individuals struggle with maintaining diet and exercise, and many people also struggle to accurately keep track of caloric intake throughout the day. A calorie tracker may just be the boost needed to fine-tune a weight loss program.
Franco, R. Z., Fallaize, R., Lovegrove, J. A., & Hwang, F. (2016). Popular Nutrition-Related Mobile Apps: A Feature Assessment. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth, 4(3), e85. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.5846