You’ve decided it’s time to lose a few pounds, and want to use your iPad to help. We’ve got you covered with a rundown of the top food diary and calorie counter apps for the iPad. Can you convince your accountant that the iPad is a legitimate medical expense? Probably not.
This application is an iPad version of Livestrong.com, a website developed by Demand Media and the Lance Armstrong Foundation (remember those ubiquitous yellow wristbands?). The iOS app is universal, and syncs your food diary among all your iOS devices and on the web.
Of all the apps I reviewed, Livestrong had the most extensive database of food and exercise. I was simply amazed at the details it had on various ethnic dishes and esoteric foodstuffs. You have no excuse for not counting your calories with this app, except if you lack an internet connection. Like many other apps, Internet access is required in order to track calories.
The user interface of the app features the standard yellow and black of the Livestrong brand, and is lacking in terms of pizazz. Every food entry shows up as a generic apple and any exercise shows up with a dumbbell icon. Although the application was best of breed in recording food and exercise, it made poor use of the screen size and power of the iPad. Still, this is the app I settled on for my own weight loss program due to its stellar database of information.
Unlike Livestrong, MyNetDiary is a complete rewrite of their companion iPhone App, “My NetDiary,” and is sold separately. The use of screen real estate is outstanding, and the user interface is reminiscent of the top screen tabs of “Numbers.” Not only can you see what you ate for the day, but on the same screen you can see the calories, fat, carbs and protein breakdown to more accurately plan your next eating choice.
The other tabs in the app include “Plan,” in which you set your goals and calculate your Body Mass Index and your Basal Metabolic rate: two key factors in determining your weight loss strategy. “Exercise” is tracked in a separate tab and leaves rooms for notes so you can track how winded or refreshed you were after the workout.
Included with the app is a great little library of weight loss topics such as “the dreaded weight Plateaus” and “vegetarian diets.” Similar to Livestrong, the MyNetDiary website database requires internet access and syncs your data among your devices. MyNetDiary is an excellent use of the iPad features and is a great choice if you’d prefer a more feature-rich app, though with a slightly smaller food information database.
If you want most of the features of Livestrong and MyNetDiary, but don’t want to shell out the money, then FatSecret is the app for you. Fat Secret supports syncing to a website and other iOS devices and is ad-supported. This iPad-only app is very similar to its separate FatSecret iPhone counterpart, but uses the larger iPad screen to ease navigation and display more nutritional data.
Unique to FatSecret is the ability to scan or enter the barcode of the item you are eating and receive nutrition information if you’re connected to the internet. If you want to start tracking what you eat, but also want to save a few bucks, and don’t mind ads and a more limited food and exercise database, then this app is a great value.
GoMeals HD (Free)
For people who only want to track what they eat and have no desire to sync their food diary with other devices or a website, GoMeals HD might be the app for you. Unlike the previously mentioned apps, the database is accessible offline, making this app ideal for those calorie counters who don’t always have internet access.
The application is supported by the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis, but doesn’t have any direct ads. When the iPad is connected to the Internet, the map function will look up restaurants nearby so you can make healthy eating choices. This is a great free app for those needing basic calorie counting.
If calorie counting isn’t your goal, and all you want is to be aware of what you eat, this universal app keeps things simple. Just click on the picture of the food group you ate from, mark the number of servings and you’re good to go. I’m not sure “sweets” count as a food group, but they’re included in FoodTracker.
This app contains no database and no syncing — just some pictures. The app might be good for those for whom literacy is a barrier to their calorie counting, and pictorial representations serve as a simple way to provide rudimentary tracking.
For free-form entry of calories consumed, iFood Diary is a great app. Unlike Foodtracker, this is all about words. Write down what you ate, where you ate it, and any notes you want to add. Although the app doesn’t support syncing, it does allow you to email your diary to yourself and your nutritionist.
There you have it! Of course, none of these will actually remind you to log what you eat, but they should at least provide a helping hand on the path to weight loss.
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