Part of the iMA Patient Centered App Series
by: Kathy Nieder, MD
One of the many uses of mobile technology is its unique ability to capture, store and access data whenever and wherever. For diabetics and those trying to lose weight, one of the best ways to manage this is using a calorie counter to track food intake.
As physicians, we often times assume patients have a basic understanding of foods that are carb rich and those that are not. Educating patients on carbs takes time, and even then, it’s clear patients can’t remember exactly what we tell them during our visit — completely understandable. There are great apps in the Health section of the App Store that help reinforce this type of teaching and learning, and we’ll be covering them over the next few weeks at iMedicalApps. We’re start with Low Carb Diet Assistance.
Low Carb Diet Assistant is a carb counter with easy-to-use features and a large database of foods, including restaurant menu items.
One of the key absent features is the lack of a barcode scanner for obtaining nutritional information from bar codes. Despite this the app tracks weight, water intake, BMI, and contains a limited exercise logging capacity.
The opening screen logs information for the day.
Selecting “Add Entry” takes you to the screen necessary for logging food or exercise.
You can pick choices from an extensive database or customize food additions.
When adding exercise you can choose type, intensity or customized choices.
You can also graph your carbohydrate intake over time.
It is primarily an app aimed at individuals trying to lose weight using a low carbohydrate diet such as Atkins and South Beach. Since the daily carbohydrate feature is modifiable, it could be used by diabetics to count carbs but has no features for tracking glucose, calories or medications.
Evidence to support goals
This apps primary function is to assist individuals in losing weight using carbohydrate tracking. There is evidence that there is no significant difference between types of diets patients choose to lose weight, hence, as long as patients are trying to decrease their calories, this app would be helpful. (Sacks et al. Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. NEJM. 2009;360:859-73.)
- $2.99 This is not cheap when taking into account the features included, but may be reasonable if ease of use is considered as part of the price justification.
- Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
- Calculates a BMI with weight
- Easily understood graphs
- No internet connection necessary
- No bar code scanner
- Log does not track calories-only grams of carbohydrate
- Does not sync across devices
- Not available online or on Android
- Simple carb counter for individuals wanting to use a low carbohydrate diet to lose weight
- Easy to use for anyone, physician or patient, with at most two clicks to any data feature.
- This app could be used by diabetics solely for tracking carbohydrates but it is not a full-featured diabetic app for tracking blood glucose levels and/or medications as well and is not recommended to physicians for that purpose
- A little pricey for the features it contains.
- Providers could consider prescribing Low Carb Diet Assistant to patients wanting an app to help with Atkins, Sugar Busters, or similar diets.
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question.