I don't need to tell you that eating only pizza, cookies, cheeseburgers and ice cream won't do your health or waistline any favors.
Research shows that diets high in processed carbohydrates and sugar negatively impact health. Even simply eating more calories than you burn will cause you to put on pounds, no matter what you eat.
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If you are looking to eat better or lose weight, thankfully there are plenty of products that can help. From fitness and nutrition apps to fancy smart scales, this guide lays out handy tools to use. They make it easier to mind what you eat, and can even motivate you to hit the gym after one extravagant meal too many.
Know what you eat
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), a healthy diet isn't just what you eat but also how much you eat.
To truly get a handle on that, the NIDDK recommends keeping a detailed log of your food intake, including meals, snacks, drinks, alcoholic beverages and dessert. It doesn't really matter if your record is on paper, in a spreadsheet, or with an app (more on that later).
What does matter is that you don't guesstimate amounts. For the most accuracy, weigh what goes on your plate, in your mouth, and ultimately into your stomach. You don't need to spend a lot of money to do this -- any kitchen scale will do.
Read those nutrition labels too. No matter if you plan to limit carbs, fat, or calories, packaged food labels are a handy method to digest this info. Just remember to factor in a label's suggested serving size, and then compare that against what you actually eat. Keep in mind that a serving size is often a fraction of a food container. Weigh your servings on the scale to double-check your portion size.
Count calories with these apps
Recording every morsel you consume isn't anyone's idea of fun. So let an app do the heavy lifting for you.
Both the MyFitness Pal (iOS, Android) and Loseit! apps (iOS, Android) offer detailed databases of the nutrition stats on thousands of foods. All you have to do to log your calorie intake is to search for the foods you ate.
Fitness equipment that's clever enough for your smart homeSee all photos
MyFitnessPal and Loseit! give you the option to scan the barcode of most any packaged food with your phone too. The app then cross-checks this against its library to find a match. It'll also add the data if it's new info (no match found). Loseit! goes one step further. You can snap a photo of food you're about to eat, and the app will try to identify it.
Once logged, you'll be able to see a nutritional breakdown of your meal. Common nutrients include calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, sugar, and sodium. These apps keep a running total of each. As you record meals and snacks, the apps display your consumed nutrient amounts, compared with a recommended daily requirement.
If the numbers are out of whack -- either too low or too high -- the apps shows this too. This way, you'll know when you've had enough salt for the day or aren't meeting your recommended amount of protein.
Consider a smarter scale
Calorie-tracking apps are handy tools, but they still leave room for error. If you don't accurately report the serving size of whatever you're eating, you can end up under or over your recommended daily calorie intake.
For more accurate food tracking, consider a connected nutrition scale.
The $99 Smart Diet Scale comes with four "portion control plates" that allow the scale to weigh an entire meal at once -- provided you separate it into four distinct components. The Smart Diet will then calculate calories of each item, based on the type of food and how much it weighs.
Another option is the $300 Pepper smart scale. It is still a prototype, but is designed to do a lot more. According to its creators, the Pepper will be able to calculate up to 150 different nutrients from a library of 8,000 different ingredients. The scale is supposed to work with Alexa voice commands as well.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.