Apples to Oranges: Comparing Food Apps

The nutrition world can be tough to navigate – there are so many options, so many fads and so many misconceptions. Nutrition labels aim to assist, but they too can be misleading or difficult to interpret, and they don’t provide as much help for assessing homemade, multi-ingredient dishes. Dining out is a whole different obstacle, as nutritional information is often scarce or nonexistent.

Luckily, technology has stepped in to help in a big way via access to massive food and nutritional databases and the ability to precisely track every morsel you consume throughout your day. Fit identified four of the most interesting, well-regarded apps on the market to help you decide if one can help you toward your lifestyle and wellness goals.

MyFitnessPal This app mostly serves as a calorie-counter and nutritional diary, with a built-in database of more than 4 million foods. It learns and remembers your favorite foods (including some restaurant options) so that logging most meals is quick and easy, and it tracks your daily intake against your dieting goals. However, the app is touted as allowing you to “eat whatever you want,” which is true – no app can prevent you from consuming anything and everything – but that won’t get you any closer to your goals.

Fooducate The idea behind this app is simple – clear, insightful explanations of what’s really in foods (and how healthy they are) based on information from the nutrition label. To use Fooducate, just scan the barcode on the label and the app provides a breakdown of the benefits of the product, any detrimental ingredients and an overall grade between “A” and “D,” as well as recommendations for better options if the food you’ve chosen isn’t very healthy. Fooducate leans toward minimally processed foods that are full of nutrients and vitamins.

Zipongo The Zipongo app attempts to not only provide information about eating better but also to incentivize purchasing healthier foods that fit each user’s personalized meal-planning program. It offers healthy recipe ideas, virtual grocery lists and discounts on certain nutritious foods at stores in your vicinity, even linking to supermarket rewards cards to identify deals on what you already eat. People also have the option of selecting the premium subscription service to integrate Zipongo with health trackers like FitBit to get more personalized meal suggestions.

HealthyOut Are you great at managing your diet when you cook at home but feel lost when you go out to eat? HealthyOut solves that problem by providing nearby restaurant meal options that fit your diet and nutrition preferences. Users can search by cuisine type (Mexican, Italian, brunch), dietary restrictions (gluten-free, vegetarian, lactose-intolerance), diet (Paleo, Atkins, South Beach) and nutritional preference (low-carb, high-protein, heart-healthy). HealthyOut also provides a nutritional breakdown of the dish, and can be set for delivery, takeout and dine-in options.