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After trying sites like SparkPeople, PeerTrainer, and Calorie-count.com, I’ve settled on FitDay for tracking my calories consumed and burned. It’s a fairly simple site with a decent database of foods and activities, good reports and a good public log.

See my public FitDay log.

I’ve found that logging your eating and exercise is important in trying to get in shape, mostly because it makes you more aware of what you’re actually doing. Many times we think we’re eating less than we really are, but if you take the time to log it, you’ll really know.

It’s also motivational to track and graph your weight over time, to see your percentage of calories that are carbs, fats and protein, to see if you’re adequately meeting your nutritional needs, and so forth. Very useful information for whatever your fitness and health goals are.

However, I have three main issues with FitDay that I wish could be resolved (they don’t seem that difficult):

  1. The caloric expendure numbers are too high, I think. Every other site has my daily calories burned, if I do no exercise or other type of activity, as 1900 calories. FitDay adds several hundred calories to that number each day, even if I select “bedbound” as my lifestyle. Obviously I’m not bedbound, but when I chose “sedentary” it added like 600 calories to my BMR. That seems way too high for a desk job. So now, in order to minimize this extra number added, I have selected not only “bedbound” as my lifestyle, but “65” as my age. I’m not really 65. Actually much closer to 35. I don’t know – maybe someone who is more of an expert can tell me if FitDay is actually correct in adding this number, and all the other sites are wrong, but if not, FitDay’s numbers need to be adjusted.
  2. It doesn’t account for time zone differences. I live on Guam, which means my Thursday (today) starts like 17 hours ahead of the West Coast in the U.S. … but FitDay only displays my data from Wednesday when people view my public log, until it turns to Thursday somewhere in the Atlantic. That doesn’t make any sense — Thursday should show up as soon as it’s Thursday for me, not for people in London or even New York (I’m not sure what time zone they’re using). It should be simple to add time zones to their settings.
  3. It doesn’t allow me to create recipes. One thing I like about a couple of the other sites I’ve tried is that instead of adding individual ingredients for something I eat a lot, I can combine them into a food grouping or recipe. I haven’t figured out how to do that on FitDay, and as far as I know, it’s not available. That means I have to enter each ingredient of a sandwich each time I eat it. That takes a lot more time than it should. Again, seems like a very simple thing to change.

Other than these three things (and overall, they’re pretty small concerns), FitDay works pretty much how I’d like it to work. I highly recommend it, or at least recommend choosing some kind of service or log so that you’re tracking your exercise and eating.

Some comments on the four online services I’ve tried:

  1. FitDay – a little old-fashioned looking, but has a decent database of foods and activities, and good reports. You can publish your log for people to see.
  2. SparkPeople – probably the nicest looking of all, this has all kinds of features that the others don’t, including the ability for SP to create meal and workout plans for you, all kinds of articles and forums and ways to earn points, and more. Check it out to see everything they have. I stopped only because it was overload for me.
  3. PeerTrainer — different from all the rest, because it doesn’t actually calculate your calories — you have to look them up yourself if that’s what you want. However, it has two strengths that might blow away the others if that’s what you want — 1) it’s very very fast to log, as you don’t need to search for foods in a database — you just type in your foods and activities; and 2) in PeerTrainer, you *have* to be part of a group of 2-4 people, so the group helps motivate you. It’s a very social site, and it works pretty well.
  4. Calorie-count.com – Similar to FitDay, actually, but probably has a better calorie database. Not as good in terms of reports though. Also has more forums. A good choice.

Try out the different services to see which fits your lifestyle and needs best. Let me know if you’ve tried any others!

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