MyPlate calorie tracker app review

MyPlateWith so many diet apps out there, choosing the right one can be a difficult decision! To make it easier on you, I decided to try out the MyPlate Calorie Tracker app. MyPlate Calorie Tracker is a free app that was developed by LIVESTRONG with the goal of helping users transform “smart choices into natural habits”. Here’s what I learned:

MyPlate App Features

When first signing up for the app it asked me to input my age, current weight, height, gender, weight goal (varies from maintaining to gaining/losing 1, 1.5, or 2 pounds per week), and activity level (sedentary, lightly active, moderately active, very active). Based on these characteristics, the app computed the calorie amount I needed to accomplish my weight goal. Calorie goals can range from 1,200 to 9,000 calories. Once signed in, there were multiple features that I was able to utilize.

  • Nutritional Information: The site offered a myriad of nutrition information on topics such as cooking tips, vitamins, supplements, “splurge” foods, diet plans, and recipes created by members.
  • Calorie Tracker: I added my foods by either searching a food and finding the closest match to what I consumed or by scanning the barcode of the food I ate. Serving suggestions were listed and I could alter the serving to reflect how much I ate. There was also a water button to record the amount of water in ounces I drank per day.
  • Exercise: Calories burned through activity can be recorded for each day. I was able to either manually input the amount of calories I burned through exercise or my phone could track how many calories I burned through its movement.
  • Weight: I could input my weight per day to track weight loss.
  • Progress: The app tracked my progress through weight and calories consumed over a period of time and the percentage of macronutrients I consumed per day.
  • Community: The community section allows other users of the app to post on the site. This ranged from their progress using the app to recipe sharing, physical activity challenges, and nutrition advice.

 My Experience as a Consumer

  1. After inputting my foods, the app gave me a breakdown percentage of macronutrients eaten each day (carbohydrates, fat, and protein). I found this helpful to see how accurate I was in following the nutritional recommendations for each macronutrient; however it only provided the caloric breakdown per day. It would be more helpful if the app provided this breakdown over a period of time since nutrients are balanced out over time and the requirements do not “re-set” each day.
  2. The nutritional data on the app is composed of many different sources such as the USDA federal database, supermarkets, and restaurants. Other users are also allowed to add items to the database, which may not always be reliable. One way to ensure reliability of the items is to choose the ones that read “verified by livestrong.com”.
  3. Under the activity section the app doesn’t give example activities and how many calories you would burn from them. In other words, I could not record that I walked for 30 minutes and have it compute the amount of calories I burned from that. Instead, it had me add how many calories I burned from exercise myself. This was not convenient because I had to track my calories as I exercised (see below). You can however add the type of exercise you completed on the website and it will compute the calories for you.
  4. There is a feature in the activity section called “track my activity” which was able to track my smart phone movement and adds the calories burned based on those movements. This was more convenient than inputting the calories myself, but it did mean that I had to have my phone on myself at all times.
  5. It is time consuming. Adding in each type of food consumed, especially when making meals from scratch and not being able to scan a pre-made meal barcode can take time and effort. Although recipes can be added, it still takes time to add each ingredient, which can be a burden. Recipes and regularly eaten foods can be saved and edited for future use however, so it is less time consuming if you eat the same foods on a consistent basis.
  6. The community section of the app is not regulated; therefore people can offer nutrition advice that may not always be accurate. The advice posted is not from credible sources, consequently I would not advise users to trust what is posted.

My Recommendation

The app would be useful in showing users how many calories one consumes on a daily basis as a general picture of their diet, which could be a way for users to fully understand their eating practices. It can also be a useful tool in understanding portion sizes and deter mindless eating. There are downsides to the app as well however. For example, although having a large nutritional database is beneficial for the user, there are many options for each food which can make it hard to choose the correct option if none are verified. It can also take up a large amount of time to input each food item and type of exercise if one’s food that is consumed changes regularly.

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