Over the past year I’ve been using my iPhone to help me lose weight. I lost over 70 pounds, thanks in large part to my iPhone. As we enter the thick of swimsuit season, those feeling a bit round around the middle will find their iPhone an invaluable tool for shedding pounds. Here are a few apps to help get you on the right track.
Calorie Tracker – LIVESTRONG.COM ($2.99)
Last year I evaluated calorie counter apps for the iPad and decided Livestrong was simply the best. After a year of usage, I still think so. The program has an extensive database of every food imaginable. No matter how exotic or ethnic, it’s in there. No guessing how many calories your meal had: Livestrong knows.
Not only does the app track the calories eaten, but also has a database of exercises to take off the pounds. The app calculates the intake and expenditure of calories so you can accurately predict your weight loss.
The best feature for me was the seamless syncing of data across devices. iPhone, iPad, and website all synchronized so I simply had no excuse not to record what I ate. For me personally, simply recording what I ate made a huge difference.
Meal Snap (and previously the Camera app) ($2.99)
Before Meal Snap, I would take pictures of everything I ate. That made me accountable, keeping a visual record of what I’d eat throughout the day. The camera was also handy for those times where doing extensive calorie analysis was awkward or inappropriate; take a picture and figure out the calories later.
Once Meal Snap came along, my pictures had a whole new meaning. Not only did I know what I ate visually, but Meal Snap would guess the calories. Talk about being lazy. Snap a picture and you’re done. Later in the day when I would have time, I entered the data into the Livestrong app or website to record what I ate.
Some of the interpretations of the meals are funny, and reveal that actual human beings, likely with a cultural bias are viewing the pictures. I learned about some interesting Indian dishes along the way that had absolutely nothing to do with the actual pictures I snapped.
Bodymedia FIT Armband ($249 plus $6.95-$12.95 monthly)
Bodymedia is truly the future of technology that makes us healthier individuals. This is a monitor you wear 23 hours a day, taking it off only to recharge or when you come in contact with water.
The device monitors movement, heart rate and sweat to determine how many calories you’ve burned. I hate to throw buzzwords around, but this really is the “gamification” of weight loss. At the end of the day you can track how much you’ve walked, how much moderate and vigorous exercise you performed, and even how much you slept. The device communicates with your iPhone via Bluetooth, or via physical docking for recharging and advanced data computations. At the end of the day, you can see if you met your calorie burning goals.
What I really liked about this device, despite its high price, is that with the iPhone you get your calorie burning in real-time. And while many fitness machines will give you a count of “calories burned,” that doesn’t account for your personal metabolism. I was amazed at how off those can be. They also don’t account for potential cheating like leaning on the railing or skipping steps. The Bodymedia simply doesn’t let you cheat.
To embark on a quality workout, you can ask the Bodymedia to track your exercise by calories burned, not by time. So instead of saying “I’m going on the treadmill for 30 minutes” you can instead say “I’m going to burn 300 calories on the treadmill.”
The app has a rudimentary food diary, but it was severely lacking and pales in comparison to the Livestrong Calorie Tracker, but you can use the apps in concert with one another.
Each day I used the Bodymedia, I’d try somehow to break the previous day’s goal with one of the metrics: more sleep, more calories burned, more steps, etc. It was like a video game, but instead of points earned, it was calories burned. Win win!
When people ask me how I lost my weight, I can tell them I owe nearly 100 percent of it to my iPhone. It kept me completely accountable for my calorie intake and expenditure, and it can for you as well.