Can apps help in losing weight?

The offer of apps for nutritional advise or more excercise is manifold.

Foto: cc flickr Sascha Kohlmann
Photo: cc flickr Sascha Kohlmann

For documentation of the daily caloric intake, as a pedometer or fitness coach: the range of apps to assist in a dietary change or a balanced exercise program is manifold. The mobile phone seems to turn into a handyman in the matter of nutrition and exercise advice – but how powerful are the promising programs for smartphone and tablets indeed?

With over 5 million downloads on the operation system android the app Noom is one of the most often downloaded programs. It gives advices for a dietary change and offers an additional exercise program. The basic version is available for both android smartphones and iPhones; it is free of charges. The software creates an individual plan for losing weight after entering personal data such as age, size, actual and desired weight. This is mainly based on the method of calorie deficit, which means you should consume fewer calories than needed to reduce fat reserves. To achieve this, one has to enter one’s daily meals and exercise sessions as accurately as possible and try to stay in the prescribed calorie range. The app supports and motivates by numerous special tasks or bonus points when reaching predetermined targets. In addition, it provides an integrated fitness coach, a food database, a pedometer and a forum for discussions with other users.

Those who prefer to analyze and improve their exercise behavior can try one of the various fitness apps. One of the most popular, the Runtastic Running & Fitness, is also available for free in the basic version. The app logs -  with the help of satellites (GPS) - the sports activities of the user such as running, cycling, hiking, walking or jogging and evaluates them. This leads to information on speed, calories burned or covered distance. The progress is being filed in a training diary and a total statistic.

In addition to the extensive apps Noom and Runtastic there are also numerous smaller programs that can at least assist in a dietary change. So the free apps Bewusst einkaufen, MyFitnessPal Kalorienzähler or Calorie Counter include a broad food database, which helps counting the daily calories. Furthermore, there are apps like Diet Point or Eat Smarter offering numerous ideas for recipes with calorie information. Meanwhile, there are even programs such as Food DB that display the nutritional information after scanning the barcode of food packaging.

However, all of these apps have one thing in common: They absolutely depend on an accurate and complete data entry of the user. If personal information or meals are recorded incorrectly or incompletely, the apps cannot work correctly. And of course - the digital helpers can only act as a support.
A medically accompanied nutrition and training program, as offered by the IFB AdiposityDiseases, can better respond to individual needs and also provides the essential personal advice. Two things will always be necessary for losing weight: motivation to reach a healthier life and the corresponding self-discipline.

Martin Liborak

Keywords: Nutrition & diet,  exercise