Want to Eat Right, Lose Weight, Feel Better? There’s an App for That

By Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD

Losing weight, increasing your energy and feeling healthier still comes down to putting the right food in your body, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. While technology can’t do all these things for you, a number of smartphone apps can make it easier to monitor your behavior, recommend improvements, and provide guidance along the way.

Here are six smartphone apps that can help make this your healthiest year yet.

Whole Pantry (Apple, Android)
The Whole Pantry app is just what it sounds like: an app centered on real, whole foods. All recipes are gluten-free, with no added or refined sugar. They’re entirely vegetarian, with gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and Paleo options as well. Each recipe is accompanied by beautiful photographs, and allows you to send the ingredient list straight to your (or a friend’s) phone.

Harvest (Apple)
Not only does the Harvest app let you know what’s in season in your area, it also gives tips for selecting nearly every type of produce imaginable. Harvest also reports the average level of pesticide residue, based on data from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Find Me Gluten-Free (Apple, Android)
This app is perfect for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Check out a restaurant’s gluten-free menu ahead of time, see ratings and reviews, get directions, and call the restaurant for further information and reservations – all straight from the app. I love that you can also filter for local restaurants or only those offering a dedicated gluten-free menu.

My Fitness Pal (Apple, Android, Blackberry)
This is my favorite app for journaling food intake and exercise. It’s super easy to use. It tracks the history of the foods you enter, making it a snap to add those frequent foods to your daily intake. The app also features a bar code scanner so that you can just scan the label, and it is automatically entered into your log. My Fitness Pal has one of the more extensive databases with more than three million foods, plus a tool to create personalized ‘custom’ foods. It also allows you to ‘invite’ and connect with friends so that you can view each other’s logs and help motivate one another.

24/7 MotionX Sleep Tracker (Apple)
We know that quality sleep is a key component to weight loss, not to mention overall health and well-being. But many of us don’t come close to getting enough sleep, thanks in part to stress, overloaded work schedules, and technology that allows us to stay plugged in around the clock.

So I’m loving this 24/7 app. It’s a sleep monitor that analyzes sleep and helps improve your sleep quality. Using a technology based on human motion, it provides insight into how long it takes to fall asleep, how often you wake up throughout the night, and how much time you spent in deep sleep and in light sleep.
It can be useful for those who suspect they have sleep apnea, since it can be set to record sleeping sounds. It also has features to monitor your resting heart rate and number of steps taken daily, as well as to track your weight.

Map My Run (Apple, Android, Blackberry)
Using your phone’s GPS navigation system, Map My Run tracks your route and calculates your mileage, pace, and calorie burn. It gives real-time pace stats during your workout, and can be set to give voice prompts on your progress as you go. It also syncs with other devices such as Polar, Nike+, and Garmin. And it’s not limited to just running. Map My Run can be used to track your progress in more than 600 types of activities, from cycling to hiking to skiing.

Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a sports and lifestyle Dietitian, board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She manages the nutrition program at Ochsner’s Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans, advising clients in weight loss, muscle building, endurance training, eating disorders and general health and wellness.

As a columnist for The Times-Picayune newspaper, Molly covers the latest trends in the nutrition and the fitness industry. She is also the nutrition and fitness expert for New Orleans’ ABC affiliate WGNO with a weekly segment on “Good Morning New Orleans, Get the Skinny with Molly.”

Serving as a spokesperson at various events of the New Orleans community, Molly is featured regularly as a nutritional expert on local and national news stories. She has appeared in numerous media outlets, including Vogue, The New York Times, Newsweek, Shape, Health, Fitness, Runner’s World, Wine Enthusiast, Cosmopolitan, WebMD and CNN.com. For more information, please visit http://nola.com.

A version of this article was first published in The Times-Picayune newspaper and is reposted here with their permission.

The articles written by guest contributors are the sole responsibility of the individual writers in terms of factual accuracy and opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher of this blog.

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