Blog Post

Count Those Calories With LIVESTRONG.COM

It’s been a chart-topper for a little while now, so I decided to check out LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker. I have to admit, I was a little put off by the use of all-caps in the app’s name, but I suppose it’s primarily meant as a promotional tool for “LIVESTRONG.COM”, and if aggressive branding is the price you pay for an otherwise free app, it’s no big deal.

I was greeted with another minor nuisance when I opened the app for the first time, since I was prompted to sign up for a LIVESTRONG.COM account in order to use the Calorie Tracker. Registration grumbles aside, once signed up I began to see why the app had climbed to such heights in the iTunes rankings. Calorie Tracker does much more than its name implies, and actually combines the functionality of a number of other apps in the same category.

First, the app does indeed track calories. At the “My Plate” or home screen you can see your progress towards you daily calorie total, as established by your height, weight, activity level, and weight loss/gain/maintenance goal, which you enter when you set up your account. The progress bar is calculated based on foods you’ve eaten and exercise you’ve done over the course of the day. Foods and exercises logged are displayed underneath the calorie tracker.

The app also provides weight monitoring, charting your progress towards your goal. You can see your graph in the “My Weight” screen, accessible through the bottom nav bar.  Each day you can return to the app and enter your current weight, accurate up to one decimal point.

Calorie Tracker provides two more functions as well: nutritional and workout information. For both, you can search for items using LIVESTRONG.COM’s online database. From your search results, you can choose an item, review its details, and select the one that most accurately reflect the food you actually ate or exercise you actually performed.

LIVESTRONG.COM’s Calorie Tracker app has a lot going for it. It combines the functionality of a lot of other individual applications, provides access to a large database of foods and exercises that is constantly being updated by users, and presents all of this in a package that is pleasing and user friendly. Still, it has its downsides as well. You must register for an account, something I’m really tired of doing for iPhone apps, and the app places annoying calls home to update information far too regularly. Also, if you’re not able to connect to any network, you’re out of luck, as none of the information is stored locally. While I can see how useful this is for people looking for an all-in-one solution, it will never have a permanent place on my home page because of usability issues.

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