Several people mentioned that I should try My Fitness Pal, so I wanted to give that a fair chance, too. I decided to try out both for the week and see which I preferred (and which one met my needs better).
Here is a (very unscientific) conclusion:
Both apps have a barcode scanner, which is really nice! When adding a food to your food log, you can just scan the barcode and the product will pop up. Occasionally (on both apps) the wrong product would pop up, or the info was slightly off, but usually, the barcode scanner was super helpful!
SparkPeople has a new app that is much more user-friendly than the old one. It's a lot cleaner looking, with less distractions and less ads than before. My Fitness Pal is also very clean and user-friendly.
They both have a huge database of food. I think there was only one item out of the entire week that I couldn't find in the databases.
You can connect your devices (such as a Fitbit) to each app. On My Fitness Pal, the calories you burn may get added to your "allowed" calories for the day. On SparkPeople, your activity level doesn't change your target calorie intake. I prefer being able to add calories for exercise, because when I do a long run, I certainly need more food than when I have a rest day.
SparkPeople gives you a "daily calorie goal", which is actually a range. The range recommended for me was 1200-1550. My Fitness Pal gives you a specific calorie target (not a range), and they recommended 1200 for me. There is no way that I could be happy on 1200 calories a day, so I made up my own target. You can choose your own target on either app (for SparkPeople, I think it the change has to be made on an actual computer, and not the app--I couldn't figure out how to change it on the app). I like the idea of a range better than aiming for one particular number; because if you're aiming for, say, 1500 calories on My Fitness Pal, and you eat 1502, then it kind of makes you feel like you did something wrong for not being under your calorie goal. Having a range, like on SparkPeople, is nice because you can aim for the middle, and eat based off of your hunger level that day.
I like to measure food in grams and ounces, rather than cups and tablespoons, so I wanted an app that would allow me to do that. Both apps had issues with it. SparkPeople gives you the option much more often to log by weight; but several times, I noticed that the numbers didn't make sense (if I used only half the grams in the serving size, the calories didn't always reflect that). I didn't find any glitches like that with My Fitness Pal, but it took more searching to find a product that allows you to log by weight instead of volume. Take a specific cereal, for example: you might have to look at 10 different listings for that cereal before finding one that is listed by weight. You can always add your own food listing, though, so I ended up doing that with several foods that I wanted to log by weight.
|100 grams of grapes has 67 calories,|
according to the USDA
The biggest deal breaker/maker for me was whether or not I could log recipes. The SparkPeople app doesn't allow me to access any of the recipes I've inputed over the years, so I can't log them on the app (on the computer, I can, however). The only way I found to work around this is to create a new food item with the nutrition info from the recipe... but that is a huge extra step that is really unnecessary. My Fitness Pal wins for sure in the recipes category. You can use the app to create a new recipe, either by adding each ingredients manually, or by importing ingredients from a recipe on a website. Since I cook dinner almost every day, this was important to me.
One of the things I like about My Fitness Pal is at the end of the day, when you are done logging your food, you click "complete this entry", and you get a projection of what your weight would be in 5 weeks if every day were like today. There is something really motivating about seeing the projected weight!
SparkPeople has a different sort of motivator in the form of "SparkPoints". You can earn points by doing things such as tracking food, tracking water intake, reading articles, etc. The number of points you earn determines which level of "trophy" you have. You can also use the SparkPoints to buy virtual gifts for your SparkFriends.
If you're into tracking water, the SparkPeople app has a water tracker right on the same page as the food log, which is nice. I searched, but couldn't find a water tracker on My Fitness Pal. (ETA: There is a water tracker! I don't know how I missed it. When you press the little + at the bottom of the app, there is a button for water.)
A nice feature on My Fitness Pal is that there is a green checkmark next to the food items that have been verified as having the correct nutrition info. Since anyone can add food to the database, it's nice not to have to double check everything. (I'm not sure who does the verification, however.)
With SparkPeople you have to add each food item to your log individually. On My Fitness Pal, you can select several items and add them to your log at one time, which is a big time-saver! I could look at my "frequent foods" and just tap the little circle next to them, and add them all at once.
If you like having a meal plan that is created for you, SparkPeople offers that as an option. The My Fitness Pal app does not. If you turn on the meal plans on SparkPeople, you'll see that things are automatically added to your log; so you can look ahead and do shopping for the week if you choose to follow their meal plan. (I always follow my own plan, because what I eat just depends on what I'm in the mood for). As you eat each food, you check off the boxes. You can also add your own items in addition to theirs.
|An example lunch with the SP meal plan|
SparkPeople also has a Coaching Center, which I think is pretty cool. There is a "coaching" tab at the bottom, which leads to "Today's Tip" (a short tidbit that may be helpful or motivating), as well as articles to read.
As far as the social part of the apps, I'm too biased to really comment on it ;) My heart is with SparkPeople, because I've met some really great people on Spark. I haven't used any of the social parts of My Fitness Pal, so I can't say what the difference is.
Overall, I decided that I like My Fitness Pal for food logging. It was the recipes that swayed me! If SparkPeople ever allows me to access my recipes on the app (and add calories for exercise), I may change my mind. I'm still keeping the SparkPeople app, however, for the articles, social aspect, and motivation.
Anyone else have thoughts on which app you prefer? Or if there is something major I'm forgetting, please share!