Today’s post comes, as usual, from what I’ve been experiencing lately with my clients. I have found myself visiting the MyFitnessPal website multiple times each day and have come to both really like it while simultaneously cursing it out. Now this is only one of thousands of health and fitness apps out there (Lose it!, Livestrong, etc), but it’s a really popular one which is why I have chosen to single it out. If you don’t really care what I have to say about it, feel free to scroll to the bottom of this post for a list of nutrition apps I really like. Most are free, so why not have them? So back to MyFitnessPal…

What I don’t like:

I have to say that I am actually really anti-technology when it comes to the diet. For some of my clients it can be beneficial (really dialing it in), but for the vast majority I think technology just confuses them further. I am always trying to go in the opposite direction of what everyone else is doing to keep a step ahead and to stand out. Also, I tend to preach that what you are doing should be something you see yourself doing for the rest of your life. Plugging info into an app forever ain’t likely to happen. Besides, your body will keep an accurate journal regardless of what you put into your phone.

What I REALLY don’t like:

I feel like 99% of my clients come to me using the app and they all have the exact same recommendations. 1200 calories, 40 grams of fat, 50 grams of protein, etc, etc. Holy crap this pisses me off. For starters, 1200 calories isn’t shit nor is it sustainable. I can assure you that you are doing more harm than good. Nutrition is such an individualized field. Cookie cutter programs like this are what is wrong with the industry. So I inevitably have to change all of these numbers for my clients. Not a big deal, but what about all of the people out there that just don’t know better, that don’t have access to someone who can help them out?

What I do like:

It’s easier and more user friendly than ever before. In the old days (you know, 3 years ago) I had clients write out on paper everything that went into their mouths, even if it was a stick of gum. Again, I still actually prefer this method as I believe there is power in putting a pen to a piece of paper. It brings about much more awareness than scanning a bar code (although I’ll admit that’s pretty cool). But in my book, client compliance is even more important. You sometimes have to meet them in the middle. I get it, life is crazy hectic and carrying around a journal and a pen and jotting every little thing down is “just one more thing” to do. Additionally, I get to track my clients in real time by following them on the website. I don’t have to wait until they bring it to me. And the macronutrient breakdown is done for me too. Used to be that I’d get the information, then manually plug it into a relatively expensive nutrition software program (time consuming) and then meet with them later to go over what we had on our hands. Now I can scold them in real time! It’s the closest thing to being right there to knock that cookie out of their hand.

So while I still prefer the “old school” method there are certainly benefits to the new apps coming out. There is a lot of room for improvement, but it has the potential to be really great for the industry. And so now, below are some apps I think everyone can benefit from.

  • Unified Lifestyle’s “Restaurants”: No longer do you need to get online ahead of time to see the nutrition information at a restaurant. Just pop on here and get it in the palm of you hand while you’re at your table.
  • ShopWell: This app takes some of the guesswork out of trying to understand what the nutrition label means. It scores foods from 0-100 and color codes them in green “best”, yellow “ok”, and red “avoid”. I know some people will disagree with me on this and I don’t think it should be all that you use to choose foods, but in a pinch it’s pretty handy.
  • Fooducate: This app costs a couple bucks, but it’s detail is really good. It gets very in depth and is much more individualized than most other apps out there. Quite frankly, I’d be typing for a while to explain all of the features of it.
  • MealSnap: Ok, I’m actually on the fence with this one. I’m a bit biased though because the technology for this was just being started at Purdue while I was an undergrad there. Basically you simply take a picture of your food. After about a minute of analyzing, it gives you back a calorie range of what the meal or food is. It certainly isn’t perfect and is in it’s infancy, but it is the start of something that could really be a huge for the industry.

Did I miss some apps that you guys really like? If so or if you have any comments, just let me know!