Apps: Can they help you reach your nutrition goals?

With the New Year  approaching I am excited about the  promise of a fresh start!   I’ve been wondering, how can I inspire individuals setting resolutions, to keep them?  Can apps perhaps be our saving grace from  resolutions set with good intentions, but soon forgotten? According to registered dietitian and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Marisa Moore, “Americans are increasingly turning to apps to support them in achieving their health goals, especially for New Year’s resolutions.”

The number of nutrition and diet related apps available for phones and ipads is mind boggling. But are they any good? Well, thanks to registered dietitians (RD’s) and spokespeople for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Americans have the answers to the highest rated, evidence-based apps to help them in three nutrition areas: losing weight, managing diabetes, and following gluten free diets. Thirty of the most popular free iphone apps have been reviewed by RD’s for each of the three categories and rated on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. The following are the top dogs in each category:

Weight Loss:

Sarah Krieger, MPH, RD, LD/N reviewed apps in this category. I am reporting the star ratings she gave and  some of the pros and cons she listed for some of the top weight loss apps.

Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by My Fitness Pal;  Current version 3.3.1; RD rating 4.5 stars.


• Large database of food (over 1.1 million foods) with option for food or recipe entry.

• Analysis of more nutrients than most other apps in this category. Provides analysis of  calories,  fat, protein, carbs,  fiber,  iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.


• Database content is average.

• Visually not as appealling as other similar apps.


Calorie Counter: Diets & Activities; Current Version 1.1;  RD rating 4.0 stars


• Tracks calories,  fat, carbs, protein, cholesterol, saturated fat, fiber, and fitness PLUS water.

• Has the ability to customize your own diet and activity plan.

• Can be integrated with facebook and twitter.


• Activity database is not comprehensive.

• Although tracking water consumption sounds like a good idea, the recommendations are not evidence-based.



Calorie Tracker by; Current Version 2.4.2; RD rating 4.0 stars


•  Database contains  more than 625,000 food and fitness items.

• Logs calories, fat, sodium, carbs, sugar , fiber and protein.

• Keeps track of calories like a spending in a bank account. You can visually see how many calories are left after you enter what was eaten.


• Does not include tracking for saturated  fat, iron, calcium and other vitamins.

• Lacks goal oriented information.


Sparkpeople Food and Fitness Tracker; Current Version 2.5.3;  RD rating 4.o stars

• Broad list of exercises and database includes more than 1 million foods.

• Tracks calories, carbs, fat and protein by counting backward from goals.

• Weigh-in page graphs weight progress over time.


• Does not track saturated fat, sodium, and fiber.

 Diabetes: Marisa Moore, MBA, RD, LD reviewed apps for managing diabetes. I am reporting the star ratings she gave and some of the pros and cons she listed for one of the top ranked apps.

Blood Sugar Tracker by Healthy Cloud LLC; Current Version 1.3; RD rating 5.0 stars


• Simple to use. Set desired blood glucose ranges, log blood glucose values from home page, and this app will graphically show you the numbers out of range.

• Blood glucose levels can be saved for one year.

• Internet not required.

• Ability to export information and forward to a health care provider.


• Data cannot automatically be backed up.


Gluten Free: Jessica Crandall, RD, CDE, reviewed the top 10 rated free iphone apps for gluten free. I am reporting her star ratings and some of the the pros and cons she listed for the top ranking apps in the gluten free category.

Gluten Free Daily; current version 1.0;  RD rating 4.5 stars.


• Free 7 day trial.

• Includes 24 weeks of meal plans as well as recipes.

• Includes both a grocery shopping list and medications guide.

• Visuals are helpful to indicate portions sizes of food.

• Calculates Resting Metabolic Rate, Body Mass Index and Thermal Effect of Exercise.

• Offers tips on eating out and better food choices.

• Includes listing of chain restaurants that offer gluten-free meals.

• Tracks progress with food and activity journal.


• After the 7 day trial, this app is not free.

• Encourages anyone to follow the gluten-free diet, even without diagnosis of celiac disease.

• Misleading.

Sorry, I could not find screen shots of this app.


Eating out G-free ; Current Version 1.0; RD rating  4.0 stars.

• Offers tips on ordering gluten-free at restaurants.

• User can input specific allergy restriction.


• Local restaurants are excluded.

• Focus is not on what to order, but on what to avoid.

To read the entire reviews visit

Interested in using an app? Consider what  you are interest in tracking. Not all apps track the same things. Remember, use of an app can be helpful, but cannot provide individualized counseling, custom meal-planning or the application of evidence based nutrition knowledge to solve YOUR eating concerns. Only a registered dietitian can do that.

Are you using any app for diet or nutrition or fitness? Which one(s) have you used? Which one(s) do you like?

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