Recommended food tracking apps?

Greetings QSers,

I’m looking to track my food consumption (as I’ve been having weird blood sugar lows) and make it part of a more general QS tracking plan.

My 3 criteria are:

  • iPhone app
  • able to export data to excel
  • able to capture both bar codes for when i eat packaged foods, and pictures / text, for when i eat healthy, like.

Oh, and stupid simple would be good. Any favorites from the bunch out there from this group?

Thanks
Stephen

Hello Stephen. I’m curious which food tracking apps you have looked in to so far? Would love to learn from you.
We are working on a new app http://foodcamera.com and would love to have you as an early user.

hey stephen,

i suffer from severe reactive hypoglycemia (aka postprandial hypoglycemia) and want to log all my food and other variables in order to identify the determinants of my well-being. since i don’t own a smartphone, i’m currently planning to write all data into an excel based meal planner (e. g. a customized version of this one http://www.true-natural-bodybuilding.com/graf/diet-plan-true-natural-bodybuilding.xls) and then analyse it through statistical software (e. g. SPSS).
honestly, i think it’s difficult to find a software that will capture bar codes because it will take a looooong time until the databases will be large enough. furthermore, your analysis will be limited to the data disclosed by the food producer (e. g., many producers don’t indicate all vitamins and minerals included, which is supposed to be important to controlling low blood sugar)
i’m still looking for a butter solution to record than the above mentioned meal planner, because I need it to log other variables that will be included into the analysis (e. g. mood, hunger, times of the day when the meals are eaten, numbers of daily meals, time spent in my favorite hobbys, and much more).
if you need any advice or have a tip for a better tool, don’t hesitate to contact me

cheers

Kai

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my fitness pal maybe all that you need - the food database is pretty impressive if you don’t mind the UI focusing on weight loss goals.

I think a good food tracker would be the killer app of QS. I’m tired of being asked if I ate 1 serving or 100 grams of something. I haven’t known how much 100 grams is since the 6th grade.

I’ve just reviewed 6 web apps for food tracking - Lose It, myfitnesspal, USDA Supertracker, fatsecret, WebMD and Fooducate today. They all suck in one way or another.

WebMD, Lose It, USA Supertracker don’t have the most basic foods.

Lose It, MyFitnessPal don’t have food photos.

Fooducate has foods and photos, but you can’t added them to your food log. There’s no interface to update data - you have to email them. The first food I looked up, Trader Joe’s Uncured Turkey Dogs, had outdated data.

fatsecret can’t evan calculate calories right (screenshot)

myfitnesspal has a massive duplicates problem, and their solution is… editing the food title to include the words “DUPLICATE PLEASE DELETE”, after which their engineers will allegedly review them.

TheDailyPlate / LiveStrong I won’t touch with a 10-foot pole. I volunteered with them a few years ago enough to get featured on their website, but they never fixed the issues I had pointed out. Essentially, their database schema was badly screwed up, which prevented any progress.

At this point, I track my food intake in an Excel spreadsheet.

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This is a topic I plan on hitting at some point in another discussion I am have in the QS furom, but I like what I am seeing here. My topic is based on the idea of how to make a product better. I picked the Zeo for personal reasons, but doing the same thing here for a food tracking app would be cool. Picking one then pointing the thread out to the app makers might motivate them to update their app or someone else to make one to meet the needs.

Hi Kai,

What other things will you track? For a condition such as yours it seems wise to track blood glucose as well as do some urinalysis – though the latter is a bit subjective. Have you done any of that?

I can suggest two APPs that work together that will provide you with part of what you need. The first is FatSecret the second is MyFitnessCompanion. You can import FatSecret into MyFitnessCompanion and then export the data as a CSV to import into your excel sheet. I will attach a example of what it exports.


I do have to admit that almost non of the trackers that I have looked at (not that many) have had a few of the things I want to track in them. “Caffeine” this and anything that could interfere with sleep or aid in sleep.

Howdy, QS’ers. Have been into self quantification for about a decade now and that passion resulted in a project: TextCalories.

TextCalories enables you to track your dietary and fitness activity using text messaging and the Internet. As someone passionate about nutrition and self quantification, I’m hoping folks will try it out for at least a week and give me your feedback!

www.textcalories.com/tryit.html
TextCalories in 2 minutes: http://youtu.be/Wy-mDO601mM

David Chase
TextCalories
david@textcalories.com
www.textcalories.com | www.facebook.com/textcalories | www.twitter.com/textcalories

How can I export my data from Text Calories?

Great question, Gary. Unfortunately, that is not a current feature, but one we’re hoping to roll out in our next set of features, hopefully before year’s end. In some sense, if you backup your text messages you’ll have a feed of your data, but obviously not in the matched and organized structure that TextCalories provides.

I want to assure you and any other QS’er that this IS a feature that TextCalories will offer in the near future. We’re just taking baby steps and trying to get a significant following so that we can get more traction and, more importantly, more resources devoted to getting better features like exporting rolled out!

Thanks for that fast and thorough answer. Export is a must have for me. I like the idea of texting a food journal, but only if I can then export in a nice csv format for mashing with my other data…

I like Pictrition, it’s a new app that just launched tracking food photos. The idea is based on food journaling and presents more of a quality look at your overall intake vs. focusing on macro/micro nutrients.

It’s simple and free.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pictrition/id721125149?mt=8

2016 update: I’ve been using MyFitnessPal, albeit reluctantly. They’ve introduced “Verified foods”, but they still leave a lot to be desired - for instance, if you search for “cucumber”, you’ll find 40 (forty) almost identical entries, all “verified”.

Or check this gem:

Many other users have complained about “verified foods”. I’ve found tons of typos in the food names, as well as duplicates and abused or misunderstood brand names (like in the “chicken” example above).

MFP doesn’t record when you ate a meal; you can assign some vague time to it, breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks. This is highly frustrating, and at the same time pretty easy to implement.

As of October 2016, you still can’t report incorrect foods from the mobile app.

MyFitnesPal don’t offer a data export option, even though it’s a task an intern could probably complete in a week, and tons of 3rd party solutions have cropped up.

However, once you accumulate a list of recent foods, it becomes easier to track if you keep eating only those foods.

I take psychotropic medication and had a BMI over 30 for many years. Last year I started working on a very simple voice calorie counter for Android phones. I lost about 13 lbs using it (some weight crept up over the holidays but I am getting back on track.)

Using Google speech recognition to enter in food values is pretty cool. I do a lot of guesstimating on calories but I have found that even just tracking the number of items I eat and especially the number of servings of fruits and veggies (I try to get 7) is really handy.

My calorie data is very very noisy but the sheer simplicy of entering food so quickly makes my app enjoyable for me to use and despite the noise, a least squares fit of data does indeed seem to show that I am eating less and less over time:

The beauty of fast voice entry is that you are more likely to be honest with recording data. I can’t tell you how many times I wouldn’t record a late night snack on myfitnesspal. On my app, it’s so easy I don’t have an excuse.

Calorie values are practically only good for one or two significant digjts. Simplicy of logging is what I am finding to be most powerful.

Check out my prototypes at:


https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rfo.voCalPRO

This is my weight log while using my app… I usually average about 0.25 to 0.3 lb weight loss. It may not seem impressive but I take Risperidone which notorious for causing weight gain and metabolic problems.

We are working on an iPhone version which may be out in a couple months.

If you would like to contribute to our project, check out our indiegogo campaign:

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So today was pretty good… After using it for over a year, I am finally figuring out what works best for me to use the app to help me lose weight and eat healthy… A great diet hack I finally started applying this week is waiting 4 hours between meals. I use the hrs timer on voCal to check when I last consumed calories and it works great! Also been tagging my fruits and veggies and making sure I get at least 5 servings every day. (version 3.04 published today should be launching much zippier since I eliminated another major bottleneck this afternoon)

I suggest using cronometer, you can create and save your own food database and if you are serious about results it will seriously help you reflect on your intake. Most importantly for you it meets your criteria.

2019-April update

MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter is what I’d recommend. It does let you edit nutrition information if you find it mismatches the label, and you can use the edited product right away.

2016-October update

It’s mind boggling how not one single Android app I’ve tested lets you fix/override the incorrect nutrition data it gets from their database, or add missing macros:

  • SparkPeople Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker (also, doesn’t support weight gain goals)
  • Lose It (also, doesn’t support weight gain goals)
  • LiveStrong MyPlate Calorie Tracker

Again, all the apps above don’t let you fix incorrect nutrition data. These apps have millions of users and very well-funded companies behind them, yet apparently have focused resources on marketing rather than functionality.

I live in California, so I’m eating some of the most common foods these apps target, yet there are still mistakes.

MyNetDiary PRO is the only app I’ve found that appears to support editing foods, but:

  • they call the feature “Custom foods”, which other apps (e.g. MyFitnessPal) have as well (and for free) - you just enter the nutrition data from scratch, as if you prepared the meal yourself
  • they charge for a feature that enriches their databases. This is crowdsourcing done wrong. Plus, you can add custom foods from the website anyway. Don’t know what they were thinking.

The best food tracking app of the lot

Despite its shortcomings, so far the best choice among these apps is MyFitnessPal. While you can’t correct data in the mobile app, you can do so on the website, and the data will sync to the app within seconds. If you scan a barcode and there’s a mismatch against the actual nutrition label, you can search for the item on the website (by name), correct the data (please add something like “per 2016-Oct label”), then match the barcode to the food you’ve just corrected.

In its premium/subscriber version, MFP also lets you have different caloric+macronutrient goals per day of the week, which can be handy for certain diets, e.g. extra carbs on bodybuilding training days for muscle gain.

Note: I haven’t tested MyNetDiary yet.

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+1 to all of the deficiencies pointed out on this thread about existing food tracking apps, including the fact that you have to export your data into Excel to draw any causations/correlations/insights to begin with.

The idea to build a one-place holistic health app that makes inputting your food quick and confident + gives you insights by drawing correlations and causations from your food, exercise, etc. data + helps you build habits you need to ramp up overtime to achieve your goals has been rattling in my head since 2013. In the past month I have gotten really serious about pursuing it as a full-time effort. Such a thing needs to exist.

I am currently doing customer interviews to understand (a) if there are problems beyond what I pointed out above, and (b) what are the top use cases, even within the broad problem areas I pointed out above, that need to be addressed in a first MVP. My plan is to first create an early private beta of 10 people who already log their food daily, co-create/iterate with them rapidly week over week to get to a product we all feel is well worth the effort of inputting data, then expand the audience from there slowly in progressive rings.

If you are interested in being part of this co-creation/private early beta or have further questions, please email me at richa.p1@gmail.com. Thanks!