Author: Cecilia Snyder, MS, RD
Keeping track of your daily calorie intake is one of the oldest weight loss tools of the modern age. The practice is centered around the basic idea that, in order to lose weight, you must consume fewer calories in a day than the amount that you’ve burned. We can estimate how many calories we burn each day using a variety of different equations. And then once we know that number, we can aim to keep our calorie intake below it in order to encourage weight loss.
Many of the food tracker apps used today are simply fresh digital spins on what originally started out as a paper food diary or food journal that your doctor or nutritionist might recommend you keep as a way to track your daily calorie intake. Although the basic concept hasn’t changed much, digital food tracker apps make the process much easier and more efficient since you’ve typically got access to a full database of foods and nutrition information to scan through and find just the right type of item that you’re looking for.
On top of that, food tracker apps will usually help to calculate your daily calorie budget for you. Not only does this help with accuracy, but a food tracker app will consolidate an entire day’s worth of calorie information into an easy-to-read summary. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that you can access all of this at the tip of your fingers, any time of the day, on your very own phone or tablet.
But are food tracker apps really all that they’re cracked up to be? Is it possible that the risks associated with food tracking could actually outweigh the rewards? And does food tracking alone really have the potential to help you lose weight and keep it off for good? Let’s find out…
Here’s the catch with food tracker apps!
Like most things in life, food tracker apps have their pros and their cons. With weight loss, it’s hard to deny what a large role calorie intake plays. But it’s just as important to remember that calorie intake alone is not the only factor that influences weight loss.
While food tracker apps are useful for their intended purposes–tracking calorie intake–they’re not as useful when it comes to changing your calorie intake. But with weight loss, successfully changing your eating habits is where the difference is usually made. Food tracker apps show you what you currently eat, but they don’t really help to explain why you eat that way. And they also don’t help to explain what or how you should be eating instead if you want to lose weight.
So here’s the kicker… it’s really hard to change your eating habits without the what, the why, and the how. Food tracker apps can help with this, but chances are that you might find them to be much more helpful if your pair that tool with other behavior change techniques, rather than relying on a food tracker app alone.
Is policing your portions worth it?
Food tracker apps are a useful tool for self-monitoring your daily calorie intake. But if you decide to use one, it’s important to remember what exactly it is that you’re trying to keep track of throughout the day. Is it simply your calorie intake? Or is it the quality of your diet overall?
With food tracker apps, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the numbers. And putting such an emphasis on the numbers and a strict daily budget can be stressful and anxiety-provoking at times. Making food choices under that kind of pressure is not easy… it’s certainly not enjoyable… and there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll end up feeling burnt out on your weight loss plan sooner than you’d like.
For long-term weight loss, finding a way of eating that’s healthy, enjoyable, and sustainable usually requires that you focus more on the quality of your food choices over the quantity. When you’re relying on a food tracker app alone, you might be staying in budget each day, but if it’s by eating smaller amounts of less-than-ideal calorie dense foods, is it really serving your purpose?
This might help with weight loss in the beginning… but will it be possible to maintain this way of eating long-term and still lose weight? Will it provide you with the flexibility that you need to navigate the different situations you’ll find yourself in from time to time–traveling, holidays, office parties, family dinners, and more? WIll it help you build self-awareness around the why and the how of your everyday food choices?
Probably not! But there is another weight loss program that can do all of this and more…
Try Noom and reevaluate your relationship with food instead!
The Noom app makes it easy to take a holistic approach to weight loss. It’s an approach that uses a combination of psychology and nutrition to help you learn the why, the what, and the how. You’ll still have access to the Noom app’s very own food tracker, but it won’t stop there.
With the Noom app, you won’t just learn how to count your calories, but you’ll also learn:
- How to choose nutritious foods that make it easy to stay in budget
- The psychology behind your own food choices and behaviors
- How to rewrite your script and form new healthy lifelong habits
And it gets even better from there. With a Noom subscription, you’ll also have full access to:
- Self monitoring tools including including daily weight logging and an in-app pedometer
- A recipe database stocked with a ton of quick, healthy, and delicious meal ideas
- Daily articles to keep you motivated, learning, and moving forward with weight loss
- Two of your very own health coaches to help guide you along the way
- A group of peers on a similar weight loss journey than you can lean on 24/7
There’s more to weight loss than counting calories. Sign up for Noom and learn more today.