Can apps help us to lose weight?

Weight loss is certainly no new concept however, the way we can approach it has changed over the years especially now with technology at our finger tips. Technology could be blamed for making society more lazy, less active and staying indoors; but if used right it could actually help us. If one types in ‘weight loss’ into any online app store there are streams and streams of results. We will try help you to see what’s out there and how to determine if it’s good or not.

Types of apps
There may be many types of apps but most of them generally will vary by focusing on one or more of the following:1

  • Daily weight loss tips
  • Weight loss recipes
  • Exercise programs
  • BMI calculator
  • Calorie counters
  • Exercise trackers
  • Diet plans

Examples of apps 1,2,3,4
As one could stroll for a long time on the app store with the vast amounts of apps it is challenging to try give advice of what apps to use as there are just too many. Below are a few we looked at.

App name Logo Platform Cost Features and review Rating
FatSecret Icon1 iPhone & Android Free We found this easiest to use with the most application for South Africans including many products even the new FUTURELIFE® SmartDrink. It is easy to use and understand. 4.3/5
MyFitnessPal iPhone & Android Free This app is well known for its easy to use interface and ability to monitor your diet. Upon downloading, this app guides a new user nicely on how to use the app step by step assisting in quickly being able to use the app. SA products are listed with accuracy including the complete FUTURELIFE® range. 4.6/5
Calorie counter PRO MyNetDiary iPhone & Android There are many options and functions from entering a food diary, exercise, extra notes and more. However, the main flaw is that it does not offer SA products so this makes the food diary inaccurate and so not the best option. 4.4/5
Fitbit iPhone & Android Free The app is fairly easy to use however the food diary lets this one down. The exercise tracking being linked with ones FitBit device leads it be very accurate and efficient. The food diary doesn’t have many SA products and not many add-on’s like others. 3.9  / 5
Nike + Running  icon2 iPhone & Android Free This one is popular more for exercise than dieting. It has an easy to use interface which helps you track your exercise using GPS. It also has helpful exercise challenges or coaches to aid you to lose weight. 4.4 / 5

Rate them yourself
As there are so many apps let’s think how we can practically assess them for yourself to see how good they are.

  • Just because you have to pay for it doesn’t mean that it is better quality
  • It should be easy to read and easy to use for the average consumer
  • How much detail does it contain?
  • How accurate and precise is it? Does it ask you to estimate how many grams of bread or pasta you used instead of guiding you what a serving would be?
  • Is it applicable in SA? Most apps are developed overseas which means in the food lists there are many products that aren’t applicable here and then not useful. However, some apps allow you to scan products or add in the nutritionals if it’s not in its library which is better.
  • Be careful of the goals you can set. Most apps allow you to choose how much weight you want to lose and by when. If you are not aware of what is healthy, realistic and safe you may try be lose too much too quickly and harm yourself

Hold caution
Be careful that not all apps are written by professionals. Anyone can develop one and post it. This may mean that not all of them use sound and correct information and won’t have professional experience behind it. It is advisable to still see a local dietician, doctor and personal trainer for their expert advice and guidance.

Apps are often quite generalised and won’t address your own unique needs and habits. Weight loss tips, plans and education should not be given as a blanket statement for all people. The best results are shown when plans are individualised according to your current diet, history, culture, economic status, location and more. Visiting a local dietician will help you individualise weight loss and be happier following the plan.

Summary
Apps are an incredible development of technology and why not take advantage of them to help with weight loss. It has been seen that people who self monitor themselves as such with apps have a greater awareness of habits and so this aids behaviour change.3 Explore what is out there but use our advice for filtering what’s good or not. In the end still visit your local dietician to help you really effectively lose weight the way that’s right for you.

References

  1. Android play store https://play.google.com/store/search?q=weight%20loss%20apps&hl=en
  2. http://www.healthline.com/health/diet-and-weight-loss/top-iphone-android-apps#2
  3. Gilmore LA, Duhé AF, Frost EA, Redman LM. The Technology Boom: A New Era in Obesity Management. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology: 2014, Vol. 8(3) 596–608
  4. http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/best-weight-loss-apps