TRACKING APPS: THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY
Diet and exercise tracking apps are being used more and more in daily life. People track the steps they take in their day, the amount of food they are eating, the quantity of water they are drinking, etc. What I find the most common is that tracking apps are used for managing or overseeing intake of calories VS calorie expenditure for weight loss purposes. Let's start with what folks viewed as pros (please note these are not our beliefs or views rather this comes from research) : • Fitness apps allow you to keep track of your progress/allow you to build your own workout routine. – Meaning they allow you to keep track of how you are progressing through your workout routines. This is based on your goals, weight loss, strength, muscular endurance/gain. These are the apps that will customize a workout plan based on your level of fitness and do not require you to have access to a gym.
• Keeps you aware of what you are eating and why you are eating- Brings to light emotional eating, mindless snacking. It also shows the nutrient value of foods being consumed (macros).
Now let's get into the cons: • Tracking apps are not developed by medical professionals- medical professionals are usually not involved in the developing process of most diet/ food tracing apps.
• There is a large room for user error- some of the food tracking apps have “food libraries” that are composed of entries by other users. This goes along with the fact that sometimes the calorie or nutrient values of some items verified by the app differ from the label of the food you are entering.
• Calorie deficit/unsustainability- Most tracking apps have you complete a small questionnaire about you and it simplifies it to weight, weight loss goal and how often your workout or how much calories you expend on average. Once you complete this you are given a calorie budget. The deficit is so extreme that it's unsustainable in the long term.
• Lack of balanced diet- because of the inaccuracy of some food groups nutritional value people stop consuming these foods as they cannot properly enter them into their log. These usually happen with unprocessed foods (fruits, veggies,)
• Obsession- tracking can lead to obsessive behavior. You must track everything and you must meet the budget for both calorie expenditure and calorie consumption.
As someone who has been in diet culture rabbit hole i can tell you this: You do not need a tracking app to tell you how to eat, when to eat or how to live your life! While some of these apps have some good uses such tracking progress ( reps, weight being used) the main issue I see with these tracking apps is that they revolve around weight loss- diet culture standards. If there was an app that was free from calorie counting and weight loss talk but allowed you to manage your workouts and track your strength progress would that be something that you are interested in?