What’s the Best App for Tracking Calories?

Think of a food-tracking app as your own personal nutrition assistant. Whether you’re trying to maintain your weight or lose a few pounds, an app makes it easier to keep tabs on your calorie intake, eat a more balanced diet and stay motivated to live a little healthier.

But with so many to choose from, it can be hard to know which is the best app for tracking calories. Here are five fantastic (and free) options:

MyFitnessPal

Unsure how much you should be eating to see results? Enter your current weight and weight-loss goals, and MyFitnessPal gives you a recommended calorie budget. Track your daily intake by entering food from its native nutrition database, add custom foods or enter nutrition facts for packaged items manually using the built-in scanner. You can also enter your daily exercise to keep tabs on how many calories you’ve burned. The app is available for iPhone and Android.

Lose It!

Visual food icons, a comprehensive supermarket and restaurant meal database and built-in pedometer make it easy to track your daily calorie intake and activity level on Lose It! You can even create calorie counts and serving sizes for your favorite custom recipes. To determine how many calories you should be consuming, the app offers personalized recommendations that match your weight-loss goals. It’s available for iPhone and Android.

Noom Coach

Noom Coach marks foods as green, yellow, or red to make healthy eating simple. You’ll stay motivated to make smart choices, too, with a daily dose of nutrition tips and tricks and a built-in pedometer. Upgrade to the pro version for $9.99/month for access to personalized support groups and recipe ideas. The app is available for iPhone and Android.

Calorie Count

If you’d rather not type every single detail of your diet into your phone, Calorie Count is the app for you. Using voice interpretation, you can literally say, “salmon with broccoli and brown rice” for dinner and move on. The program’s goal-setting feature also lets you create and check off health-related to-dos, like eating five servings of produce or jogging for 30 minutes after work. The coolest part? At the end of the day, you get a letter grade to let you know how you did. The app is available for iPhone and Android.

My Diet Diary

This comprehensive app helps you track your daily food choices together with exercise, weight-loss and hydration. You get a comprehensive rundown of your daily nutrient intake, making it easy to know if you’re getting enough of one vitamin or falling short on another. For motivation and support along the way, check out My Diet Diary‘s daily health tips or community forums. The app is Available for iPhone and Android.

Ready to eat healthier? Grab your phone, download a program and get tracking. The best app for tracking calories puts a more nutritious diet a tap away.

Reviews are not scientific and are the sole opinions of the reviewers, not an endorsement by BCBST of any specific mobile application.

Five Fitness Trackers & You: Reviews for All Walks of Life

If you’re looking for motivation to get more active each day, you may be thinking about buying a wearable fitness tracker. With so many options, all with different features and capabilities, you may also be unsure about which device is right for you.

We’re here to help. Twenty-five BlueCross employees are testing five popular fitness devices and sharing their experiences so you can make a better choice about which one is right for you. We’ll be reviewing these trackers:

More About Our Testers

Our employee testers are a lot like you – they’re trying to be healthy while balancing busy lives. They come from all over Tennessee and have different lifestyles. Some prefer walking. Others run marathons. Some do a little bit of everything, from weightlifting to swimming. They all share a goal you might identify with: staying active enough to feel good and live the life they want.

What They Are Testing

Each person will try two different trackers, for two weeks at a time. They’ll take a survey to give us comparative data about all five trackers. Here’s some of what each of our testers will report on:

  • How easy the devices and apps were to set up
  • Which features they used most and liked best
  • How easy it was to check their status and how often they did
  • How accurate they felt the stats were
  • Whether they set and met fitness goals using their devices
  • What impact using the device had on their daily lives

We’ll also interview them and share some of their individual experiences. When you read their stories, you’ll get a glimpse at their real lives. You’ll also learn how using a fitness tracker can help you reach your own goals.
 

Learn more about getting fit.*

Stay Tuned

This week, you’ll get to meet Matt, who went from being at high risk for a heart attack in his 20s to running marathons in his 30s. He’s been using the Misfit Shine and likes how easy it is to see his goal progress without taking his phone out of his pocket.

Soon we’ll have full reviews of all five devices. We’ll highlight the features that our employees found most valuable and share their tips on how to get the most out of using a tracker.

Ready to Get Started on the Path to Wellness?

BlueHealth Solutions, our member wellness program, can help you reach your goals if you’re lacing up your sneakers for the first time or preparing for a triathlon. Our programs support you along your journey.
 
Reviews are not scientific and are the sole opinions of the reviewers, not an endorsement by BCBST of any specific device.
Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.

Brian’s First Impressions: Garmin Vívosmart

Brian is one of our BlueCross employees testing five popular fitness trackers and sharing his experiences so you can make a better choice about which one is right for you.

It’s hard to believe that at one time, even the most seasoned athlete had to rely on a simple wrist watch, a pedometer or even driving a route in their car to get good information on their workouts.

Whether you’re already disciplined with your training or looking for a tool to help you get there, the Garmin vívosmart might catch your eye.

Our next fitness tracker tester, Brian, is a veteran to the running scene. While he may already be self-motivated to get up and moving, his busy lifestyle calls for a tracker that’s accurate, easy to use and extremely responsive.

Smart: It’s in the name

“I can find some real value in some of the features of the vívosmart,” Brian describes. “I may only check my activity during a workout, but it has some qualities that are definitely smart and help keep me balanced and organized.”

Brian’s top three vívosmart features:

  • Easy-to-understand text display
  • Bluetooth connectivity to phone
  • Comfortable, waterproof fit

“I really like how the vívosmart displays text instead of mysterious icons or dots,” he says. “The Bluetooth connectivity allows me to check my email and messages from my wrist as well. And if I listened to music during a workout, I could control it from my wrist.”

At set-up, Brian notes you need to be able to go to a specific website and submit your email or phone before you can use the vívosmart. There’s also the Garmin Connect app you can use, but as Brian explains, everything you need to see is visible on the text display.

“Just a few taps and you can scroll through everything. The waterproof feature makes it easy to wear all the time without worrying about damaging it, and it’s comfortable enough to wear while you sleep without noticing it.”

Reveal your sleep and sitting habits

Not only can the vívosmart cheer you on while you achieve your goals, it can tell you a thing or two about your sleep and sedentary patterns.

“It’s pretty intuitive so if you’re not very active one day or haven’t been sleeping well, it will tell you,” Brian explains. “The same thing happens if you’re very active and getting good sleep – the vívosmart will tell you immediately and make adjustments to your goals so you can steadily increase your activity and maintain good sleep quality.”

Reviews are not scientific and are the sole opinions of the reviewers, not an endorsement by BCBST of any specific device.
Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.

Tracye’s First Impressions: Fitbit Charge HR

Tracye is one of our BlueCross employees testing five popular fitness trackers and sharing her experiences so you can make a better choice about which one is right for you.

When you have a good support system, you may find it easier to develop the healthy habits you desire most. Perhaps you’re the type of person who needs that “extra umph” to get on your feet and get moving.

If you need a pat on the back or a little friendly competition to get your feet moving, you may like having the Fitbit Charge HR (with heart-rate tracking) on your wrist. In fact, our next fitness tracker tester, Tracye, says those features are ones she can’t live without.

Fitbit Challenges spurs friendly competition

“I rely on the Fitbit Challenges tool to keep me moving,” Tracye explains. “It gives you that extra push to go beyond the goals you’re setting. I’d have a hard time staying motivated without it.”

Tracye was already a Fitbit Flex user when she started using the Fitbit Charge HR – losing 10 pounds in the first month with the Flex. Today, she’s influenced several coworkers to join her in using a Fitbit for the Challenges.

“We have a ‘work week hustle’ to see who gets the most steps during the work week and a ‘weekend challenge’ to keep us competing throughout the weekend,” she says. “The Charge HR also sends you encouraging messages, trophies for achievements and lets you know if another person on the challenge is getting close to your steps – that gets the friendly competition going.”

Tracking more than just steps

If you want to keep an eye on your calories, the Charge HR can answer that call. The heart-rate tracking feature of the Charge HR gives a better indication of how hard your heart is working allowing for more accurate data on the amount of calories you’re burning. Tracking your steps alone can’t give you that detail.

“You can go a step further by using the MyFitnessPal app to count how many calories you’re taking in, too. The Charge HR syncs with that app,” explains Tracye. “But, one of the best features of the Charge HR is that it shows you all your information on your wrist – you don’t have to go to a computer or phone to check it.”

The only device you’ll need throughout the day

Having all your information in one place is something Tracye describes as “necessary.”

“There’s a clock on the Charge HR too so I can check the time without having to wear a watch at the same time,” she says. “That’s very convenient. The Charge HR is truly the only device I need throughout the day.”

Reviews are not scientific and are the sole opinions of the reviewers, not an endorsement by BCBST of any specific device.
Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.

Matt’s First Impressions: Misfit Shine

Matt is one of our BlueCross employees testing five popular fitness trackers and sharing his experiences so you can make a better choice about which one is right for you. 

For most people, becoming a parent is life-changing in many different ways – especially when it comes to your health. It can be easy to neglect your health when no one else is depending on you.

That was true for Matt, one of our employee testers. When he was just 21, he wasn’t making great choices. He drank four to five sodas a day and never exercised. His doctor told him he had prediabetes, high cholesterol and an increased risk for a heart attack. So Matt stopped going to the doctor.

“That was in 2003, but I knew that mindset had to change the day my daughter was born in 2007. I knew I couldn’t become healthy overnight though,” said Matt, who reconsidered his doctor’s advice after becoming a parent – losing more than 60 pounds after taking up running.

Easy-to-Use Goal Setting

“Since beginning my journey towards good health, I learned there are tools that can help you set and achieve goals. So you can bet I was happy to test out some fitness trackers for BlueCross.”

Matt’s been using the Misfit Shine. If the thought of using a fitness tracker intimidates you, the Misfit Shine might be the device for you.

Matt-portrait-final“I’ve used devices that are a chore to set-up and use – the Misfit Shine is not one of them,” explains Matt. “The instructions were straight-forward and set-up was quick. You’ll get immediate access to the number of steps and distance you’ve achieved anytime of the day. I run longer distances, and so far the tracker has been pretty accurate.”

Matt has competed in marathons and half-marathons since his transformation, and he compliments the goal-setting feature of the Misfit Shine.

“It’s easy to set goals and make adjustments if they’re too hard or easy,” he said. “It’s fun to share achievements with your family. My wife and kids are my biggest fans as I train so I’m motivated by their support as I share my progress with them.”

Sleep-Tracking Feature Stands Out

The most surprising feature of the Misfit Shine helped Matt improve his sleep schedule. “The sleep-tracking feature was a little creepy at first. It tracks every bit of movement while you sleep,” Matt explains. “But it’s interesting once you understand how quality of sleep relates to your daily activity and workouts. If you’re not sleeping well, it can show throughout the day, and you can use the information the tracker provides to try to make adjustments.”

Whether you’re training for a race or just kicking it around on the weekends, Matt calls the device ‘simple and easy-to-use’ but also chuckles when talking about how it fits.

“It has a very strong magnet so while it’s great that you can attach it almost anywhere, it can stick to other things,” he said. “You won’t notice it unless it sticks to something else. Really there’s really nothing negative to say about this device. It can fit in well with even the busiest lifestyle, which goes a long way when you’re trying to stay healthy.”

Janice’s First Impressions: Withings Activité Pop

Janice is one of our BlueCross employees testing five popular fitness trackers and sharing her experiences so you can make a better choice about which one is right for you.

When you begin your journey toward living a healthy lifestyle, it’s easy to feel lost. It can be scary to see so many people around you going in many different directions. You find yourself faced with many loaded questions, and you feel overwhelmed.

The good news is there are many tools, like wearable health trackers, that can help you find your way. Janice, our employee tester, is someone who knows all too well how helpful these tools can be when trying to be healthy.

Janice-portrait-final“Getting the chance to take a closer look at fitness trackers you want to know more about is a welcomed surprise,” explains Janice. “It’s even better when you know the process might help others find the direction they need to get started on their own journey.”

A Comfortable Fit

Janice has been testing the Withings Activité Pop. If you’re someone who likes wearing a watch or a bracelet, the Activité Pop is a fitness tracker you’ll definitely want to consider.

“It looks and fits like a wrist watch, but I don’t normally wear a watch and take my jewelry off to sleep so it took a few days for me to get used to wearing it,” Janice describes. “The fit is very comfortable though.”

Janice describes the set-up instructions as ‘pretty simple’ and said you can’t use the fitness tracker unless you have a smartphone or tablet to download the app. One thing she said she didn’t know was that a Wi-Fi connection is ‘a must’ when downloading the app.

“That bit of know-how can save you a couple days of set-up,” Janice states. “But it’s good to know that product support will get back to you within a day of reaching out. After the app downloads, you can begin tracking your activity right away.”

Janice and her husband started their wellness journey more than five years ago. She explains that staying motivated can be hard, but she is excited about using the Activité Pop because she can share her progress instantly with her husband and kids.

A Pocket-Sized Health Coach

“The app acts like a pocket-sized coach helping you set and achieve goals,” Janice said with enthusiasm. “It’s waterproof too so you don’t have to worry about sweat or water ruining it. If you’re a swimmer, you’d definitely love using it.”

Janice-Close-up-finalBut to get the full benefits of the device, you should wear it 24/7 because it can track your sleep movement.

“At first I thought I’d only use the Activité Pop to track my activity, but I’ve been checking my sleep movement daily, too. It also has the ability to track your blood pressure which is something I might try to explore soon.”

Overall, her ‘top five favorites’ of the Activité Pop are:

  • Accurate tracking
  • Comfortable fit
  • Watch and app communication
  • Waterproof
  • Long battery life