Has anyone ever told you that you should write down everything you eat? Did you listen? If not, you should. Food journaling is not just a futile recommendation; studies have shown that people who keep a regular food journal are more successful at meeting their weight loss goals than people who don’t. One study published in the “American Journal of Preventative Medicine” reported that those who wrote down what they ate 6 days a week actually lost twice as much weight in a six-month period as those who only kept a food record for one day or less. But who has time for that? Luckily, there are several weight loss apps you can use to make this process a cinch.
How Does Food Journaling Work?
Let’s back up a minute and talk about how writing down what you eat actually helps you lose weight. For one thing, it keeps you accountable. Keeping track of every piece of food and drop of liquid that goes into your mouth allows you to see where extra, unnecessary calories are coming from. You’re also less likely to make poor food choices when you’re forced to write them down. Sneaking a bite or two of cake is one thing. Having to write down that you snuck a bite or two of cake is a completely different story.
The old school way of food journaling involved taking a notebook and a pen with you everywhere you went. You would write down everything you ate and drank, look up the calorie and nutrient content of each item, and then add it all up and see where you end up for the day. No wonder so few people actually stuck with it!
Fortunately, today’s technology makes food journaling a cinch. There are several apps that you can download that help you keep track of your calorie and nutrient intake easily. Some of these apps even allow you to scan a barcode and will give you information on whether the item in your hand is a healthy choice or not. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
Weight Loss Apps
MyFitnessPal is arguably one of the most popular weight loss apps on the market right now. When you open the app for the first time, you log your height, current weight, and goal weight. The app automatically sets up monthly goals for you and then gives you access to a database of over 750,000 foods. You can use this database to track your foods or add in your own foods. MyFitnessPal also allows you to obtain nutrition information of specific foods by quickly scanning the barcode of a packaged item. As you log your food intake, the app keeps track of the calories and nutrients you’re taking in.
Lose It! works the same way MyFitnessPal does – by providing a database of commonly eaten foods and allowing you to scan barcodes to keep track of intake. The app has the added benefit of tracking sleep patterns and larger wellness goals – like macronutrient intake (for those of you following specific diet plans like keto) and body measurements. You can also connect the app to fitness trackers, like a FitBit, so that you can log all of your progress in one place.
In order to make healthy choices, you have to actually know which choices are healthy. That’s where the Fooducate app comes in. While you’re in the grocery store, you can pull up your Fooducate app to scan the barcode of almost any food or drink. The app will give you an immediate health rating from A to F for that food based on things like calories per serving, amount of excess sugar, and nutrient content. Fooducate will also alert you to other potential problems, like packages that tend to lead to overconsumption (we’re looking at you chips). The app also tracks your weight and helps you create healthy grocery shopping lists.
Nudge is designed around the importance of community and support. Instead of helping you track your food, Nudge offers different social clubs where you can connect with other people who have similar health goals. You can use theses social groups for inspiration, advice, or just plain ol’ support. If you need a little extra push, you can also connect one-on-one with coaches through the app.
StepBet ups the ante on weight loss, literally. With the StepBet app, you define a weekly goal and then put your money where your mouth is. You place a small wager on your weekly goal and your money is put into a pot with others who are betting the same pool. At the end of the week, the total is split amongst all of the participants who have successfully completed their goal. You can sync the StepBet app with most fitness trackers, including FitBit, Apple Watch, and Apple Health, which comes preinstalled on the iPhone.
With so many weight loss apps available to you right at your fingertips, there’s no excuse not to start keeping a food journal. Logging each meal takes about as much time as sending a text message or updating your Facebook status, and it’s far more productive. The best part about all of this? All of these apps have a free version on both iOS and Android. You can also upgrade to premium memberships on some of them to gain access to more features. Either way, you’re only a download away from having success right at your fingertips.