The last 45 days of the year are pretty embarrassing for me. It’s about that time that I just lose a lot of self-control and succumb to the dark, cold nights and continuous family gatherings, feasts, and leftovers.
It’s not a pretty sight.
As a result, over the last few years I have been using Lose It!, a food tracking app, to kick the years off and get back into real shape yet again(well, for at least 320 days). Science shows that working out isn’t really what helps you lose weight, it’s more about watching what you are actually putting in your body that counts. I have first hand experience with this and can honestly say that I never really fully met my target weight (ideally around 185 pounds at my 6’2 height), until I started looking more into my diet and food intake – and Lose It! seriously got me there. And I’m not alone either – In a 2016 study with the National Institute of Health, 72.7% of users who actively used Lose It! achieved clinically significant weight loss. I recently updated to the Premium Membership ($39.99/year) and have really enjoyed the added experience.
Like I mentioned, I have been using the free plan yearly and have had no real issues with it. It’s pretty intuitive to figure out and makes it easy to just dive in and get started. Just click on the meal of choice, search for the food, and add to your log. It’s that simple. Their database is extremely large (over 10 million entries!) and even includes some major restaurants for when you are going out to eat or have a “cheat day” after a long day of running the kids between games and practices. The premium version allows you to add in some other meal options – like early morning snack, early afternoon snack, and late afternoon snack – if you want to break things down that way.
One limitation that I had in the free plan was the fact that I couldn’t schedule my meals ahead of time. I find that I eat much better when I pack my meals the night before. The basic Lose It! plan doesn’t let you skip ahead and add stuff at the time of meal prep – a minor pain, but one nonetheless. That’s why upgrading to a Premium Membership is well worth it for me. I can just include my entire lunch bag in the app for the following day and be done with it. For those who do meal prep a week at a time, this can be a one-time entry and then forget about it for the rest of the week. Speaking of meal prep, you can add your own recipes into the app, so you know exactly how much 1/8 of your homemade veggie lasagna is going to be.
Additionally, both the free and premium versions sync with a number of workout apps and devices, and your runs (or other activities) will automatically update your caloric intake if you choose. I have used it with Nike Run Club, Strava, and Apple Watch – and all work great. If you use RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, or a Fitbit, you are covered as well. And even if you don’t use one of these, if you are using the Health App on an iPhone through some other means – it can sync up with Lose It! as well.
In addition to adding your food through the database, you can also simply scan barcodes on store purchased food and the item will automatically pop up – saving search time and making sure you have the correct nutritional breakdown. Not too long ago, they started “Snap It“, an awesome feature that lets you track food (specifically meals on a plate) by taking a picture of it. It uses “deep learning to analyze and identify the ingredients, calories and nutritional information associated with the items in a food photo“. I’ve used this a few times, and though there are some expected mixups, it works pretty dang well.
The Premium version has the ability to more personalize the look of the app interface. That means shaking up the colors or design. It’s really a minor thing, but man do I love my wolf template! In Premium, there is also something for everyone – for those just looking to do some simple calorie tracking, to those looking to look further into their nutrition. There is goal-setting (setting goals on how many calories, carbs, or protein you are consuming each day), Lose It! challenges and social sections to gather a group of people together and keep each other motivated, and even recipes for a meal plan. It’s so chock full of info that I can’t imagine any person uses everything, but I know that every person can use something.
I know that many people out there would differ from my way of thinking, but I don’t really do a deep dive into nutrition and percentages. There is a TON of info that Lose It! provides, including nutritional insights and patterns, that one can really throw themselves in to. I just personally don’t do that as much as I probably should.
Additionally, any Lose It! member can input their own foods, and those show up in the database. Sometimes that leads to misspelled, duplicated, and random entries that show up when searching – and those really aren’t all that helpful. However, this does lead to some “key” finds, like locating a Deschutes Mirror Pond with ease because someone had the good sense to add it in there. I sort of wish there were a delineation between what Lose It’s experts have input into their database themselves – based on actual nutritional values – and then a notification on those who were input by users.
But those things aside, Lose It! is a great option, and absolutely crucial to my health and wellness. Each time I have ventured away from it too far, I find myself start to get careless and unmotivated. The free version is a great first step, but I now fully recommend the Premium Upgrade, with it’s low price point and some solid new features.