Ever consider using technology to enhance your workouts or weight loss endeavors? There are hundreds of websites and phone applications designed to help you track your eating habits, increase the effectiveness of your workout routines, and find healthy food choices on the go. Here's a look at six of the best:
1. DailyBurn. This free app, designed specifically for the iPhone, will help you track your eating habits, workouts, and body measurements on a daily basis. It has an extensive database with thousands of foods including nutritional data from many restaurants. It also includes a FoodScanner app that uses your phone's camera to read barcodes from different products. Simply scan the barcode and input the number of servings you consume to have the nutritional data immediately logged into the application.
2. LoloBurn. This can act like your virtual personal trainer. For its $5 purchase price, the app download comes equipped with 36 workout routines for beginner, intermediate, and advanced users. A trainer's voice guides you through the workout and encourages you along the way. Another great feature of LoloBurn is that the music playing in the background is automatically sped up or slowed down to match the pace of your walk, run, or jog. That means you won't have to worry about trying to sprint while a slow love song plays on the radio.
3. Couch to 5K. This $3 app helps beginner runners advance from couch potatoes to running 3.1 miles continuously over nine weeks—for those looking to train for a 5K race. Just plug in your headphones and the application tells you when to walk and run, and how much time you have left between running and walking breaks.
4. 80 Bites. This 99-cent app offers a unique approach to portion control, tracking the number of bites you take in a day rather than the number of calories or servings you consume. "We have a really simple and practical message for people: 'It's not so much the type of diet you eat; it's how much you put in your mouth,'" says Frank Sachs, a nutrition researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health who studied the 80-bite approach to eating. While some experts might criticize the lack of attention to the nutritional value of foods, it's a great method for controlling portions and avoiding overeating.
5. Good Food Near You. Want to find low-calorie, nutritious options at local restaurants or when you're traveling? Check out this site available for free download to your Blackberry, iPhone or Android. Just punch in the zipcode and, presto!, a list of local restaurants, delis and markets pop up with specific menu options and their calorie counts.
6. Dinner Spinner Pro. This helps you plan healthy meals without too much leg work. The free app searches the entire database of AllRecipes.com, displaying them on your iPhone like a standard recipe card. First pick what type of meal you want to prepare, and then choose the main ingredient and preferred cooking time. The app will select recipes that fit all of your requirements. It also lets you search recipes by nutritional information and adjusts for the number of servings you'd like to prepare.