2017-02-01 And the Winner is…

A month of the year is gone already. In that time, I’ve been focussing on exercising more and, for those who are following along, now tracking the foods I am eating too. I think I have been somewhat successful with adding more activity to my days/weeks thus far but came to the conclusion yesterday that this deep dive into analyzing the calorie tracking applications on my phone sort of became a mechanism enabling me to procrastinate actually making changes in my diet. Recognizing this, I know I need to close the book out on that so I can start some forward progress.

With that, it’s time to declare a winner. At present, the two remaining candidates are MyFitnessPal and MyNetDiary. They are both very, very similar in most aspects and I think what it comes down to is what one app does just a little bit better and offers just a little bit more of than the other. So no real deficiencies for the MyNetDiary, but MyFitnessPal is just better.

The databases are both good, but MyFitnessPal had about 98% of items I was searching for by keyword and actually had 100% of items I scanned the barcode of. Those numbers were slightly lower with the other app. If you recall, strength of database was one of the primary reasons the first two got cut. It’s pretty important because I don’t have time (or don’t want to spend my time) looking up or manually inputting nutritional info.

Noteworthy is the use of foods other people have “contributed” in what can be searched and selected. There are two main problems with this.. One, I found, is that people might have entered in the calories for an item but not the nutrient breakdown. If you want to track carbs, protein, and fat, then you will have inaccurate data in your calculations throwing off the numbers. So garbage in garbage out applies. The second thing with this is that using these in the search sometimes yields 10 + things that match and have varying degrees of numbers, so the confidence is not high that there is any verification of the data that’s been added whatsoever. This is a design choice. Allowing folks to enter their own numbers is a good and necessary feature, but dumping that into what should be your “gold standard” database is completely different.

I will say that MyNetDiary has a setting to turn off showing “contributed” foods, but in doing so, I found that greatly reduced the number of positive hits on a keyword search. So then I circle back to the DB not being as strong.

Here are the top three items that put MyFitnessPal over the top…

– Data analytics. I can get 1 day or 1 week views of nutritional charts and graphs with breakdowns both by nutrient and then within each nutrient by meal of the day. The other app had very little to offer in this area without purchasing the premium version. (and I would never spend money on an upgrade without even having a sneak peek at what I was going to get).
– I was able to add a recipe and save that for future use AND edit it after the fact when I realized how the serving size was going to affect what I was actually eating from that recipe. The other app allowed me to put in a recipe, but again, one would have to buy the premium version to do any edits.
– I was able to sync MyFitnessPal with my Fitbit. This automatically pulled my step count each day which plays into the calculations of how many calories I could consume above the baseline. The simple fact that it was easy to sync up the apps and again, not requiring the purchase of a monthly subscription, was very nice.

I may at some point do an official breakdown of my analysis of all four apps, but I’m not making any promises on that because it’s time to get on with things and start using the data. I wanted to establish a realistic baseline of what I am eating now, and I think I have that. So in February I’d like to “maintain” on the exercise front and start making better choices in my day to day eating that will lead to a positive change. I just have to take it one day at a time and one meal at a time. Today is a good day to start. 😃

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