How accurate is your macro-counting app?
In case you have been living under a rock, we have become obsessed with counting our macros. And the apps that count them for us have become gospel.
With every meal, out comes our phone, and in we put our food consumption into our handy app’s database.
“Let me see if this glass of wine fits my macros,” we say as our apps crunch the numbers.
Can you relate?
I know that I can. It's become habit and nature for the past few years to make the most out of my time at the gym. Tracking goes on and off I will admit. But it's great to find out where you're at with your nutrition intake and to set you up on a plan. But it can become overwhelming at times with all the options out there.
Now have you ever wondered, though, how accurate the apps really are which we rely so heavily on? Are their databases extensive enough to truly tell us the exact number of grams of carbs, protein and fat we are eating each day?
This is what a group of researchers from the UK decided to look into recently.
In doing so, they selected five popular apps that count calories, macronutrients and micronutrients.
Here’s a link to the study that was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) in February 2019.
The apps chosen included: MyFitnessPal, FatSecret, Noom Coach, Samsung Health and Lose It!. The researchers then compared each of the app’s individual nutritional databases with professional standards dieticians follow in the UK.
They found in general, all 5 apps were OK at estimating calories and saturated fats, but were less accurate at estimating protein consumption, as well as minerals, like sodium and calcium, and vitamins, such as Vitamin C.
So maybe you’re not meeting your daily protein requirements after all…
This app was found to underestimate protein, carbs, fat and fibre, the researchers found.
While Noom was found to be the most accurate for calorie-counting, as it has the most up-to-date nutritional database, said the researchers, it doesn’t show people their levels of macronutrients at all, so it’s kind of useless for the macro-counting we’re so obsessed with.
This app underestimates both sodium and protein levels, but was found to be otherwise fairly accurate.
This one is often recommended by dieticians and is good for macro-counting, but it was found to underestimate micronutrients like calcium, iron and vitamin C.
Samsung Health (S Health):
This app also does a good job of tracking both carbs and fat, but like MyFitnessPal, but was less useful when it came to micronutrients.
We’d love to hear from you: Do you track your calories or 'macros'? What have your experiences been like using an app to track your macros? Which is your favorite app and why?