Diet tracking

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Diet tracking tools help when engaging in the common practice of diet tracking, whether for weight-loss or in relation to health issues and chronic conditions that require particular diets. A variety of tools try to enable the tracking of food eaten, often attached to databases that enable additional data such as calories, macro/micronutrients and other things. Additionally, they can allow tracking micronutrients which are supplemented with Supplements.

Types of data recorded by diet tracking tools

What exactly is recorded by the tools can depend on the exact tool used, but recorded information includes:

  • calorie intake
  • macronutrients: carbs, proteins, fats
  • micronutrients: iron, calcium, vitamin D, etc.
  • brands and manufacturers
  • Degree of processing[1]

Potentially information that is not yet noticed in any app is price of food, what is available in fridge, enjoyment, circumstances, environment surrounding eating.

Projects and results from these tools

Patients and communities that need these tools

Weight loss[2]is a very common goal. Additionally, there are communities affected by stomach and liver problems for which diet tracking is relevant[3][4].


There are many different diets for which tracking food intake will be relevant, e.g.

Tips and guides to using diet tracking tools

Typically most tools are somewhat self-explanatory after installation. Beyond this, there are some tips and advice on how to consistently track diet:

  • Buying a kitchen scale can be useful to accurately track the amounts eaten, in particular if you cook yourself or eat at restaurants that don't have standard food quantities. Fractions of a package too.
  • Frequently, people engaging in diet tracking find that the manual labor of recording their diets becomes too onerous and quit after a few months. DG suggests regularly repeating meals as this a) speeds up the speed of logging data as it will be a 'recently used meal' (e.g. as available in the tool Bitesnap) and b) also can help find patterns in the data. Wildly inaccurate measurements are still better than nothing, especially for things like eliminating a food as a problem.

Table of common diet tracking tools

This table is adapted from the Quantified Self forums[10] and might in places be outdated. Empty cells are unknown information. Yellow check-marks indicate some basic functionality of this type. The different columns indicate:

  • Quantity: Allows changing food quantities
  • Timestamp: Gives a detailed timestamp on when food was eaten
  • Export: Allows exporting data in the form of a file
  • Notes: Entries have a free-text field to give additional information (e.g. where it was eaten, whether tasty or not…)
  • Offline: Does the app (mostly) work when not being online?
  • Price: How much does the app or a subscription to it cost?
  • Search: Can one search by food name?
  • Favorite/Recent: In the menu to add food, is there the list of foods ordered by most likely?
  • Barcode: Can food be searched by scanning the barcode on it?
  • Micronutrients: Does the app include details on micronutrients?
  • User-added food: Does the app include user contributions to expand their food database?
  • Custom food: Can you add your own food that's missing from the database?
  • Water: Does it allow tracking water intake
A table of common diet-tracking tools.
Tool Quantity Timestamps Data export Notes Offline Price Search Favorite/Recent Barcode Micronutrients User-added food Custom food Water tracking
Bitesnap free
MyNetDiary Paid $50 / year
Waistline open source
Cronometer Paid Paid Paid
MyFitnessPal Paid $40 / year
SparklePeople Paid
Fooducate Paid
Glucose Buddy
My Diet Diary
Smart Plate
OpenFoodFacts open source
YAZIO free
hranoprovod-cli open source

Databases Community-driven for barcoded food products. Open source collaborative originally from France. Derived scores for amount of processing and nutritional quality. US government.


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Projects that use this tool  
Self researchers who used this tool  
We talked about this tool in the following meetings  
2021-11-11 Self-Research Chat, 2022-06-23 Self-Research Chat