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Nutrition Trackers: What Do They Really Do?

Author: Anna Frinzi

Nutrition trackers have been around for a while and have become a major part of the weight loss industry. It can be challenging to determine which ones are most accurate and what benefits they can offer to your weight loss journey.

What do they do exactly and how can they support your path to losing weight? Read on as we explore these questions around nutrition trackers and discover what assistance they can provide.

What Can a Nutrition Tracker Do for Me?

There are many apps out there that help with nutrition tracking and are specifically designed to accurately log food. These applications typically include a food diary where you have the capability to choose foods from a database and log them in the app. This helps give you an idea of what foods you tend to gravitate towards and displays a pattern of your eating habits over time. Logging foods is also intended to provide a more mindful awareness around your eating habits and help you take a moment to consider WHY you are going for that specific food item. Along with a comprehensive food log, nutrition trackers typically recommend a calorie budget based on information entered in the app, such as sex, gender, activity level, etc.

Each nutrition tracker is slightly different so it is important to investigate the apps individual features and choose one that meets your unique needs. Some nutrition trackers, such as MyFitnessPal has its own recipes or includes the ability to create your own custom recipes that are easily accessible in the application. Depending on the tracker you choose, it may have barcode scanning which is a fairly new technology that makes logging food increasingly simple. Some of the most popular nutrition trackers include LoseIt!, FatSecret, MyNetDiary, MyPlate Calorie Counter, and MyFitnessPal. Investigating the pros and cons of popular nutrition trackers out there today can be helpful as you embark on your weight loss journey. A recent study was done on smartphone apps for weight loss and gives an overview of what they offer here in terms of food or nutrient tracking, energy intake and overall functionality (Chen). Based on the findings and research of this study, Noom received the highest ranking overall (Chen).  Each food logging app has its unique features and some dive deeper into breaking down your nutrient intake and explore a detailed macro and micronutrient analysis of your diet choices, which can be useful depending on what you are looking to gain from food logging.

What is a Macronutrient?

Chances are that you have heard the phrase, “macro counting” at the gym or from a health-minded friend or acquaintance, but what does this concept mean exactly? Macro-counting involves keeping an intensive record of your dietary intake and hitting specific calorie goals in each category. The categories of macronutrients include carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Each of these macronutrients has their own unique properties that influence our health, but they all provide energy for the body (Carreiro). There are varying diets out there that favor one macronutrient over others such as low carb, high protein, low fat, etc. but when considering body weight specifically, energy is the common factor to focus on (Carreiro).  This study done found that it can be beneficial to favor certain macronutrients over another depending on your individual needs, but it is more important to focus on total energy intake rather than its source in regards to changing weight (Carreiro). A nutrition tracker can help you track your macronutrients and determine a caloric intake for each of these categories based on your individual health needs, which can get complicated. These needs vary depending on your resting energy expenditure, non-resting energy expenditure, sex, and activity level. According to the research, it is more effective to consider the entire energy input/output rather than specifically focus on one particular macronutrient (Carreiro).

What is a Micronutrient?

Contrary to macronutrients, micronutrients are nutrients that your body needs in smaller quantities, hence the label “micro”. Micronutrients includes vitamins and minerals and can be divided into four categories: water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, macro-minerals, and trace minerals (Micronutrients). Water-soluble vitamins include Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, and Vitamin C (Micronutrients). The fat-soluble vitamins are Vitamins A, D, E, and K (Micronutrients). Macro minerals are needed in larger amounts and include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, and sulfur (Micronutrients). Trace minerals are required in a lower amount and include iron, manganese, copper, zinc, iodine, fluoride, and selenium (Micronutrients). Each of these micronutrients has a unique recommended intake, function, and comes from various food sources; which makes micro-counting increasingly complicated. As you can deduce, it is important to eat a wide variety of foods in order to ensure all vitamins and minerals are included in your diet.

Consider This

When reflecting on nutrition trackers and what they can do with measuring nutrient intake, it is also important to consider additional factors towards a goal of weight loss. Diving deeper into your calorie intake and determining what types of foods are typically included in your diet is important but it is key to be realistic with what works for you. That is where Noom comes in! Noom will work with you if you find macro, or even micro-counting to be beneficial for your health journey and offers additional support and accountability to nutrition tracking. Noom has created an extensive food database with incredible features that helps create mindfulness around your food choices and has extreme accuracy with its logging system. This recent study done on smartphone apps discovered that those who monitor their weight and diet more frequently have more successful weight loss and have higher chances of maintaining that loss (Chin). With that knowledge, take a moment today to sign up for Noom’s two-week trial and see how you can start losing weight for good!