Eating is a crucial part of sports. In fact, it is one of the marginal gains that some cycling teams leverage to stay ahead of the competition. Diet isn’t just solely for pros who monitor the right amounts of fuel before, during and after exercise, however. Even at the amateur level it can also make a difference. Nutritional balance is built upon keeping track of everything you eat, so let’s dive into two apps that can help you with this.
Keeping track of everything you eat on a daily basis requires a lot of discipline. There are different ways to do it. We tend to be inclined to apps, but of course it is possible to write everything down analogue style in a notebook; in the end it’s all about awareness.
The Netherlands Nutrition Centre’s Mijn Eetmeter (My Eat Meter), revolves around achieving the right balance of macronutrients. These kinds of apps depend on the input of the user and Mijn Eetmeter has an extensive catalogue of products found in the Dutch supermarket, including the common quantities in which they are eaten. For example, when typing in ‘nuts, unsalted’ one can specify that they’ve eaten a ‘handful’. It is now easier than ever to get an accurate indication of your nutritional intake.
The advantage of The Netherlands Nutrition Centre’s app is that it provides tailored feedback. For example, it can inform you that you are lacking salt in your diet, or fat. For each important macronutrient category, you can see whether you are on the right track or whether your intake is too much or too little. Would you like to know what you have to do to ensure you get the correct amount? Look no further: each macronutrient category contains tips about which food you’re better off avoiding or what you should eat more of.
The disadvantage of this app is that you have to also manually fill in your physical activity. Nowadays most phones and accessories, like the Apple Watch, log activity flawlessly; Mijn Eetmeter does not yet have the capability to obtain this info by itself. It’s a shame, as manually logging your exercise requires a considerable amount of discipline. Not to mention logging your food intake.
MyFitnessPal, on the other hand, can process this information (provided you give permission for this) directly in the app. And that, logically, has a direct influence on the nutritional decisions you make.
And then we arrive at the point where MyFitnessPal loses ground to Mijn Eetmeter: where the catalogue of Mijn Eetmeter, a Dutch invention, contains many of the products that we can buy in the Dutch supermarkets, MyFitnessPal has a worldwide user group, and therefore measurements are often entered according to the American imperial system. Furthermore, not all of the Dutch supermarkets are in the catalogue. Fortunately, however, the app has a simple barcode scanner tool, with which you can add things directly yourself.
All in all, both apps are great to use for tracking your food intake. Where Mijn Eetmeter is more user-friendly, MyFitnessPal seems to be somewhat more versatile. It’s a matter of taste. Note: do not let food intake become an obsession; this is not necessary. The goal of using these apps should be awareness, according to Titia van der Stelt (Head Nutrition Expert at Team Sunweb).