Monitoring your meals consumption by counting energy or macros (AKA macronutrients, that are protein, carbs, and fats) generally is a actually useful approach to make sure you’re in a calorie deficit — or surplus or at upkeep, relying in your aim — and a calorie counting app is a helpful approach to try this.
Two of the most important gamers within the discipline are MyFitnessPal and Nutracheck, however it is perhaps that one of many two fits you higher than the opposite, so selecting the best app for you may be the important thing to your fats loss success.
That can assist you make that call, I’ve used each apps and reviewed them for ease of use and practicality, well being steering, price, additional options, and extra.
Having used MyFitnessPal on and off for over a decade, I do know the app rather well — it’s typically the primary calorie-counting app folks attempt — so I used to be intrigued to obtain Nutracheck and see the way it compares.
A month later, I discovered myself pleasantly shocked by Nutracheck.
Learn on to search out out whether or not Nutracheck or MyFitnessPal is the most effective calorie counting app and which might finest enable you obtain your health and fats loss objectives.
The advantages of counting energy
Whilst you do should be in a calorie deficit to lose fats, you don’t essentially must rely energy — in actual fact, doing so isn’t for everybody, and for some can result in over-restriction, obsession and an unhealthy relationship with meals.
For many who can keep a balanced strategy, nonetheless, counting energy may be an extremely helpful technique for reaching your health objectives, in addition to an interesting academic instrument.
Counting energy shouldn’t be endlessly, however studying in regards to the power density of various meals can train you about wholesome portion sizes and provide the information it’s essential keep weight reduction with out monitoring afterwards. Nobody needs to be scanning barcodes in a calorie counting app and weighing each ingredient for the remainder of their lives, in any case.
However calorie or macro-counting is a instrument you’ll be able to all the time come again to, whether or not you determine you wish to lose a bit weight once more, gasoline your health higher, observe your consumption of a sure nutrient like fibre or protein, or concentrate on constructing muscle by consuming in a calorie surplus.
Because the saying goes: What will get measured will get improved.
And analysis helps this for weight reduction. This 2019 examine by Brown College, for instance, discovered that individuals who monitored their meals consumption higher misplaced extra weight.
If you happen to’re somebody who loves planning or numbers, it’s possible you’ll discover a sense of satisfaction in counting energy — on the finish of the day, it’s science: If you happen to can eat a specific amount of meals each day, and accomplish that fairly persistently (sure, which means monitoring your children’ crusts and people licks of peanut butter), you’ll drop pounds, and there’s some consolation in figuring out the system will work when you can keep on with it.
It’s price allowing for that calorie counting isn’t a precise science — the dietary info on meals labels and restaurant meals aren’t all the time correct, and our physique makes use of extra power simply digesting sure meals (protein requires probably the most, adopted by carbs, and fats) — however when you take all the pieces with a pinch of salt, calorie-counting may be a particularly efficient approach to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
So, now we all know why it’s price monitoring your meals consumption, let’s get into the meat and greens of Nutracheck and MyFitnessPal. First issues first, let me let you know a bit about every of them.
Nutracheck: The Fundamentals
Nutracheck is a British calorie counting app, and it prides itself on that.
I don’t imply there are Union Flags emblazoned throughout it, however once I signed up, I used to be advised that there could be “no US cups and measures” they usually featured over 300,000 meals from UK supermarkets and eating places. Good to know in your subsequent journey to Nando’s.
As soon as I bought caught into making an attempt the app, I realised this was really extremely useful, however we’ll get into that extra later.
After you enroll and set your vitamin targets, you’re then in a position to seek for and log meals and drinks as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks.
Logging meals in Nutracheck.
Nutracheck presents train monitoring too, and you may sync it along with your telephone or exercise tracker (it’s suitable with Apple Watches and Fitbits) to drag in information together with steps.
There’s additionally a bit on the each day web page for notes, and on the backside, you’ll be able to see your progress on water consumption, five-a-day, energy eaten and burned, in addition to every other nutrient it’s possible you’ll be monitoring — that is actually helpful when you’re somebody who is worried about hitting a protein goal, however perhaps not too bothered about their fat and carbs.
In addition to sections for saving meals and recipes, Nutracheck has a “Progress” tab the place you’ll be able to observe your outcomes on a graph. This isn’t simply weight although, it’s also possible to log measurements like hips and waist, BMI, physique fats proportion, garments measurement, and muscle mass.
Nutracheck’s Discussion board and Progress tabs.
That is nice not just for seeing your progress visually as information, but additionally for making certain you don’t get too hung up on the size, which may fluctuate for all kinds of causes, from the place you might be in your menstrual cycle as to whether you ate a saltier meal so are retaining extra water.
Nutracheck additionally has a “Discussion board” part of the app the place customers ask questions and assist one another, which appears to be actually energetic.
MyFitnessPal: The Fundamentals
MyFitnessPal presents most of the identical options as Nutracheck, however it’s extra US-focused. You’ll be able to nonetheless select whichever metrics and measurements you favor although.
They are saying they’ve 11 million meals of their database, however having extra entries isn’t essentially an excellent factor. Anybody can add meals or components, which typically means you’ve gotten a number of entries of the identical meals, not all of that are correct.
Every day’s diary has sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, water and train, in addition to a field you’ll be able to click on so as to add notes for the day, and one other to see a extra detailed dietary breakdown of the meals you’ve logged.
The app homepage options articles on the MyFitnessPal weblog, from inspirational weight reduction tales to wellbeing suggestions.
MyFitnessPal’s fundamental model options adverts.
There’s additionally a “Progress” part, the place you’ll be able to log your steps, weight, measurements like hips or waist, and even Fitbit-tracked sleep minutes. It doesn’t have as many choices as Nutracheck although, missing issues like physique fats proportion and muscle mass.
You’ll be able to hyperlink MyFitnessPal with an array of well being and activity-tracking units and apps to import different information, together with Fitbit, Strava and Garmin. And there’s a bit the place you’ll be able to add and save recipes too.
MyFitnessPal has a “Neighborhood” part much like Nutracheck’s discussion board, however it’s not as distinguished — it’s important to go on to the “Extra” tab to get there.
Trying to find a cinnamon bagel in MyFitnessPal, and the app’s Neighborhood part.
The app additionally presents exercise plans and routines and recipes, organised by numerous elements akin to post-workout, vegetarian and beneath 500 energy.
What calorie counting app is the most effective worth?
MyFitnessPal is free to make use of as a “Lite” member, however this implies you’ll see adverts. For me, this reveals up as one small banner advert — often selling the Premium model — on the prime of my meals diary, and it’s very straightforward to disregard.
There are greater adverts on the Homepage, however personally they don’t trouble me both as I by no means scroll down or click on on the articles there.
MyFitnessPal presents a one-month free trial of Premium, after which level it prices £15.99 a month or £64.99 a yr when you pay in a single go, so it’s not low-cost.
The Premium model of the app presents entry to particular meal plans and customized settings for low-carb diets or macro-tracking, and it’s also possible to set calorie objectives per meal.
You’ll be able to nonetheless observe your macros utilizing the free model of the app, it’s simply ever so barely extra effort — it’s important to click on the vitamin button on the backside of your diary and you may then see your breakdown of protein, carbs, and fats.
Nutracheck presents a seven-day free trial, and it doesn’t auto-renew so that you don’t have to recollect to cancel something (we’ve all made that mistake and unintentionally ended up with a hefty invoice, haven’t we?).
After the trial, when you don’t pay, you’ll be able to solely log 5 meals a day, which, fairly frankly, is ineffective. I can’t see any level in logging 5 meals a day, until you simply wished to work out the dietary content material of, say, a specific sandwich or omelette you have been making.
For 12 months of app-only membership, Nutracheck usually prices £29.99, however is usually on provide for £23.99.
It’s considerably cheaper than MyFitnessPal Premium, however in contrast to the US-based calorie counting app, Nutracheck isn’t actually usable as a free member for greater than every week.
What calorie counting app has the most effective Design?
Whereas MyFitnessPal’s design is a quite simple white and blue, Nutracheck’s is extra vibrant — the principle branding is an ombré greeny blue, however there are multicoloured touches all through the app.
There are additionally cute cartoon photos for meals, akin to a boiled egg for breakfasts and a sandwich for lunches. This may not be everybody’s fashion, however I assumed it made the app appear hotter, friendlier and extra enjoyable than MyFitnessPal’s fairly scientific fashion.
On Nutracheck it’s also possible to select to modify to darkish or darkest mode when you desire to not have a white background.
Well being Steerage
It’s in all probability a good assumption to say that almost all of individuals signing as much as both MyFitnessPal or Nutracheck accomplish that with the aim to drop pounds, however apps like these are notorious for suggesting customers set their energy unsustainably low.
I used to be intrigued to affix each as a brand new consumer and see what they set for my calorie goal.
If you signal as much as Nutracheck, it asks in your weight, peak, age, gender, job exercise ranges (I selected sedentary) and leisure exercise ranges (I selected energetic), in addition to your aim (weight reduction).
Signing as much as Nutracheck.
For weight reduction, it asks in your aim weight and says, “set life like objectives — we advocate not more than 10% at a time.” Whereas it’s refreshing to see a message encouraging a wise strategy, the app doesn’t clarify what “life like” or “at a time” actually means.
Equally, the ten% restrict doesn’t consider that completely different folks have roughly weight to lose, so will probably be ready to take action sooner or slower.
I enter that I’d wish to drop from 70kg to 67kg, which is 4% weight reduction. You select your most popular charge of weight reduction — 0.22kg, 0.45kg, 0.68kg or 0.9kg per week. I chosen 0.45kg, and was shocked when Nutracheck put me on 1,417 energy.
As somebody with expertise monitoring energy, I do know that is far too low for me, and I’d be too hungry to stay to it. Once I modified my charge of weight reduction to 0.22kg per week, Nutracheck upped my energy to 1,666, which nonetheless felt low. Once I determine I wish to enter a weight reduction section, I often purpose to eat 1,850-1,950 energy a day.
The app additionally tells you when it is best to supposedly attain your goal date, and I can see why folks would wish to know that, however sadly weight reduction isn’t linear, and fluctuations and plateaus make it very exhausting to hit deadlines or particular dates.
Regardless of being shocked by my 1,666 calorie goal, I carried on with the app and it quickly turned clear to me that Nutracheck’s default is so as to add on energy from train. You’ll be able to change this setting although, which I did.
Not solely are the energy burned in train wildly overestimated by exercise trackers, in accordance with analysis, I additionally don’t suppose it’s a wholesome mindset to train with a view to burning energy. It’s higher to coach to really feel good, get stronger and fitter, and empower your self, moderately than pondering of it as a strategy to burn meals.
Once I modified my train setting, Nutracheck upped my energy by 200, to 1,866, which lastly felt like round the suitable quantity for me.
The app appeared to ship a contradictory message round train — it mentioned to not eat again all of the energy you burn, but additionally it is best to purpose to burn 200 energy a day so you’ll be able to eat 200 extra.
Becoming a member of MyFitnessPal is fairly much like Nutracheck. You enter many of the identical private information like peak, weight and age, however solely say how energetic you might be in your job, not whether or not you train round that.
Signing as much as MyFitnessPal.
MyFitnessPal recommends 0.5kg weight reduction per week, which specialists usually say is a wholesome quantity, however you’ll be able to select sooner or slower — and the difficulty with that is that virtually everybody needs to drop pounds as quick as attainable (forgetting that slower weight reduction is mostly extra sustainable, in accordance with research).
Nevertheless, even once I chosen 0.5kg per week weight reduction, MyFitnessPal put me on a measly 1,310 energy, even decrease than Nutracheck.
MyFitnessPal additionally syncs steps out of your telephone and exercise tracker and routinely provides energy on to your each day goal because of this, so the extra steps you are taking and the extra motion you do, the extra your calorie goal will enhance.
Whereas on a easy stage, fats loss does come right down to power in vs power out, many individuals overestimate the significance of figuring out for fats loss, as formal train solely makes up 5-10% of our general each day calorie expenditure. For that reason, each apps’ insistence on incomes extra meals by transferring extra is problematic.
Nevertheless, MyFitnessPal additionally means that you can flip off the setting so you should use it merely to log your meals.
Each apps routinely set macros for his or her customers, however you’ll be able to modify them and set your personal on MyFitnessPal. Seeing your macros over the course of the day, nonetheless, requires premium.
Each apps’ protein targets have been beneath the suggestions prompt by most private trainers and nutritionists in terms of muscle upkeep and fats loss although. Aiming for 1.6-2g of protein per kg of body weight is commonly cited as an excellent aim, which might be as much as 140g of protein for somebody weighing 70kg.
Once I entered my weight as 70kg, MyFitnessPal set my protein goal at 65g and Nutracheck set it at 70g, so each far beneath what’s advisable.
Which calorie counting app is best to make use of?
If you happen to’re within the UK, the possibilities are you’ll discover Nutracheck simpler to make use of than MyFitnessPal. Sure, there are fewer meals on there, however that’s in all probability not an issue since you seemingly gained’t be shopping for, say, American Twinkies or corn canine.
What you’ll find very simply, nonetheless, are M&S’s mini Colin the Caterpillar muffins — 159 energy properly spent, I’d say.
It’s extremely easy to seek for meals on Nutracheck, and gadgets are prompt as you sort. There are additionally photographs of most gadgets making it straightforward to search out what you’re on the lookout for.
Whereas each Nutracheck and MyFitnessPal have barcode scanners, I not often had to make use of it for the previous as a result of the gadgets are usually all verified for accuracy.
Nutracheck says they’ve a group checking meals gadgets each hour, and once I enter a protein powder that wasn’t of their system already, the app requested me so as to add a photograph of the container and of the dietary info to assist them verify it, which was spectacular.
This isn’t the case on MyFitnessPal. Once I looked for my mini Colin cake there, numerous entries got here up that had been logged by customers through the years, and I needed to verify which really had the suitable dietary info.
For that reason, I did much more barcode scanning when logging meals in MyFitnessPal within the hope of discovering the suitable one, which is extra effort — and requires getting up off the couch (arguably good to spice up your step rely, however a little bit of a ache).
Each apps are user-friendly and fairly intuitive. If you first obtain both, it would take a few days to familiarize yourself with, however you rapidly work out the way it all works.
However in Nutracheck, it’s simpler to see, say, the place you might be in your five-a-day, because it’s listed on the backside of your diary.
Whilst you can’t set a protein goal on Nutracheck with out going Premium, you’ll be able to nonetheless simply see your protein per meal when you select it because the nutrient you wish to present alongside energy, which isn’t an possibility in MyFitnessPal.
Each calorie counting apps definitely have their deserves and make calorie counting and meals monitoring fairly easy.
All in all, I feel Nutracheck is the higher app for UK customers, primarily as a result of all of the meals gadgets are verified but additionally as a result of it’s aesthetically pleasing and makes it straightforward to observe your protein (or nutrient of selection) alongside energy.
Nevertheless, not with the ability to use the app free of charge after seven days is a giant issue to contemplate. Arguably, what you’re paying for is that group verifying all of the meals gadgets, and thus the comfort that offers you.
For some folks, that’s price it. And it’s additionally price stating that investing some cash in one thing — whether or not that’s a private coach or an app — might help lots of people keep on observe. It’s like one other sort of accountability: If you happen to’ve paid for it, you is perhaps extra seemingly to make use of it, and use it correctly.
Nevertheless, when you’re brief on cash and don’t thoughts placing a bit extra effort in to verify the gadgets you’re logging are listed appropriately, in addition to the odd advert, as a calorie counting app MyFitnessPal does the job completely fantastic.