Thursday, May 15, 2014

Four Fantastic Apps for Nutrition-Minded Athletes

It amazes me how many apps exist now for smartphones. I love when I find a good app that makes my life easier. Here are a few of my favorite sports nutrition apps. Whether you want to count calories, shop quicker, eat out easier or check supplements, there's an app for that.

*Disclaimer: I am not being paid by any of these apps to discuss them on this blog. As you will see, I freely discuss the pros and cons of each.*

1. MyFitnessPal - Free
There are lots of apps available for calorie tracking. I like this app because the database is HUGE, which makes it easy to find uncommon or specialty foods. For clients working with me, we can also become "Friends", which allows me to see their food diary. When entering food, be sure to pay attention to how many "confirmations" a given food has received. This will give you some indication as to how accurate the entry likely is. Because this is a user-entered food database, there will be error, but potentially not much greater than any error associated with food tracking. Another note: like all calorie counters, this app notoriously under-estimates calorie needs. However, to use a way to track patterns of mindless eating or general intake across the board, it is a great tool.

2. Aegis Shield - $2.99 per governing body
For the supplement-minded athletes, this is available as an app for use on phone/tablet or as a website to use on your desktop. Aegis Shield is a database of more than 60,000 supplements that have been checked or are in the process of being checked for banned substances. While downloading the app is free, it costs about $2.99 per governing body to use it. For example, I bought the lists for NCAA and WADA, as these are the athletes I deal with most often. So, when I pull up a given supplement on this app, it automatically tells me if it contains any substances banned on either list. What a great tool! Also available are lists for professional-level organizations.The one improvement would be if you could click to the product's website from the app, but I'm sure there is too much red tape to work through to have that capability. Also realize that just because a product is clean and safe doesn't mean you should necessarily use it.

3. Find Me Gluten Free - Free
This app has saved me many times when out and about with friends who have celiac disease, or a true diagnosed intolerance to gluten. It provides restaurants and business close by that have a gluten-free menu or offer gluten-free items. Plus, users can review businesses right on the app, making it a quick decision whether or not to partake. In my experience, it has been relatively accurate and extremely useful when traveling in a city whose restaurants I am not familiar with!

4. Fooducate - Free or Not
When shopping, it can be a confusing world trying to read and compare food labels. Enter Fooducate, which allows users to scan product barcodes to view a nutritional "Grade" for that item (an actual letter grade like in school). What I like about this grading system is that it is based on how many real ingredients are in the food versus how much fortification the company forced into the product. In addition, the grading system looks for different ingredients based on different food groups. For example, high fiber in cereals but not in yogurt (which would score better for calcium content). Of course, just because a product scores high doesn't mean you need to buy it; it all depends on your overall nutritional needs. Get the basic app for free, or upgrade to the Plus, Gluten-Free or Allergy version for a cost.

Be Extraordinary,


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