Sunday, June 19, 2011

How Do You Track Your Calories?

Well, your answer should be "I live in the technology age, silly!" Those of you who know me well probably knew this was coming. Since I discovered websites and phone apps that help you track how many calories you consume and burn every day, my life has become way better. Well, I do say a lot of things have changed my life so take that comment with a grain of salt. But you know what I mean…

It’s pretty difficult  to try to figure out how much you should be eating and how much you are actually eating, so when there is someone or something else that can do it for you, celebrate it. Most of the websites estimate how much you should be eating and burning based on the information you enter into your profile (weight, age, activity level, weight goal, etc.). And then every day, you can go in and enter what you ate and what exercise you did, and they help you estimate how much more you should work out or eat in that day.

Granted, these are only estimates, but they are much better than nothing. Imagine going to a restaurant and trying to figure out how many calories chicken parmigiano or jollof rice is, when you can simply enter it in and something else calculates it for you (yes, some of these websites have Nigerian food too).

Over the last few years, so many diet and exercise trackers have emerged, but the ones I will list below are 100% free, and also have apps that you can get for your smart phone. They also have healthy recipes for when you need advice on what to cook.

Before I list them though, here’s a basic idea of the details contained in each, and how exactly it benefits you:
  • Customized weight loss goals: You start by joining (for free), and then entering information about yourself, including your weight, age, sex, and your weight loss goals. This information is used to calculate the nutrients you should be eating every day (calories, protein, etc.). As the day progresses, your food consumption will reduce how many nutrients you are allowed to eat for the rest of the day, and your exercise increases your allowance. So remember, no cheating!
  • Calorie tracker: With your customized goals, it is now easy to figure out how your daily caloric intake fits on the good vs. bad scale. You enter every meal or snack you eat, and it calculates how many calories you have left for that day.
  • Exercise tracker: These sites also contain the number of calories you burn when you do various exercises. So based on what you do each day, you can put the information in to the database, and it re-calculates the amount of calories you have left for that day. The good thing is that doing more exercise gives you a higher calorie allowance each day.
  • Community: Of course, there is also the advantage of community. You can track your weight loss with your friends or strangers, so you can cheer each other on, you can ask questions, and you can even contribute by recommending new foods to be added to the site.

Alright, now you know what they do. Do you know where to go? See the list of 5 of my favorite diet and exercise trackers below. Again, there are many more out there, but these are the ones I find have great user interfaces and are pretty easy to use. Of all of the sites I have used, this one has one of the best user interfaces. It’s organized, and you can view things in a calendar form. The only problem is that if you don’t join, you can't really use any of the tools, like checking how many calories a person burns by running at 7mph for 30 minutes. A Twitter friend was kind enough to recommend this to me, and I already love it. It is very easy to join, and has all of the great tools you need to stay on track. There are even challenges that you can join too. And apparently, it has a great iPhone app. With this site, I find that the app is actually better than the site; a little slower, but better organized. On the website, the daily food and exercise trackers are in different sections and that bugs my lazy bone, but I still love that it gives you a summary, and you can create reports to see how well you have been doing. This is another beautifully arranged site. You can tell that they put a lot of work into it. It is easy to find tips, and just test out the site even if you are not a member. I think this site was one of the first to get into the app world. You can sign up to receive newsletters, or join a group working to reach a goal. They do give awards and points to teams doing well, so if you’re super-competitive, here’s your shot to use that to your advantage. My favorite feature is that they have specialized sections for teenagers and pregnant women.

Do you have a favorite calorie tracker?  Please tell us about it!

Cheers Eights & Weights!


  1. I like sparkpeople and use them most of the time. The more involved you become in their community boards, etc. just like you said, the better. I also use calorie counter sometimes. Thanks for the heads up on the other sites.

  2. Nice...I'm trying to build some muscle and tone up.
    You just inspired me to join myfitnesspal and I also downloaded the app for my blackberry.


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