The Assistance of Apps for Counting Carbs

By Sherri Shafer

To search for apps to help you manage your diabetes or to count carbs on your smartphone or mobile device, simply locate the app store icon and click on it. Apple devices have an App Store icon; for Android devices, look for the Google Play icon. The search feature, which looks like a magnifying glass, allows you type in keywords to search for desired apps.

Finding useful diabetes apps

Browse apps for carb counting, diabetes tracking, blood-glucose logbooks, diabetes management, and so on. The options are overwhelming. A search for “carb counting” produced a list of 93 apps to choose from. My search for “diabetes” apps resulted in 1,641 options. Ask, and you shall receive! Hone your search results by being very specific about what functions you’re looking for.

With so many apps available, choosing can be overwhelming. As you scroll through the available apps, you can investigate the details about each one. First, click on the app. You’ll then have the option to review “details” about the app, read “reviews,” and find “related” apps.

Apps are rated by users and can score from 1 to 5 stars. In parentheses is a number that indicates how many users rated the app. An app that received 5 stars and has been rated by 1,853 users is an app that has loads of positive user feedback. The rating isn’t as useful if the app has been rated by only two people. Read several of the user reviews to find out what people liked or didn’t like about the app.

Give free apps a try. If they don’t suit your needs, you can simply erase them. Before purchasing an app, spend a little extra time going through the review process to make sure the app offers the utility you desire.

Diabetes management apps can help you track food, activity, medication doses, blood-glucose data, health screenings, lab values, and more. They allow you to generate food records, blood-glucose charts, and reports that can be reviewed with your healthcare providers. Some diabetes management apps link to journals, message boards, blogs, educational videos, articles, nutrient databases, and recipes.

There are many diabetes apps to choose from. For example, there is a free app provided by Sanofi-Aventis called Go Meals. It has tools for healthy eating and a nutrient database powered by Calorie King. An activity tracker syncs with a Fitbit account to merge technologies. The blood-glucose tracker organizes blood-glucose data. Other free apps that get the nod of approval from users include “Diabetes in Check” and “Glucose Buddy.”

Educational apps can help you build your diabetes knowledge base. Reputable information is literally in your back pocket if you download the right apps. Here are two examples:

  • The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) offers a free app called AADE Diabetes Goal Tracker. It allows you to set and track self-care goals and empowers you to make positive changes to behaviors in order to enhance health.
  • The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has a free app for its online journal “Diabetes Forecast.” The journal features articles on living with diabetes and offers tips for exercise, fitness, and nutrition (including recipes).

Integrating apps and a food scale

Apps can be helpful in deciphering carb counts. The Calorie King nutrient database offers a free app for iOS so you can download the database to your Apple device. For Android systems, simply access the web version. Calorie King is interactive and can display nutrition details for weighed foods. Use a food scale to weigh your item (for example, a piece of fruit or a bread roll) and then enter the weight into your search results. If you’re using Calorie King, first look up the food. Next, use the drop-down menu so results will be provided by weight in ounces or grams. Then enter the actual weight of your food item and the app will calculate and display the results.

For example, you can look up a baked potato on either the online or app version of Calorie King. The results page will list several different options for baked potato: russet potato, sweet potato, red potatoes, and so on. If you click on baked “russet” potato, the default size is small, 2 inch, (4.9 oz). You don’t have to settle for the default size. You can change it by using the drop-down menu. Options include using a measuring cup or a food scale weight. To use a food scale, switch the serving size to oz (1 ounce). Weigh your own baked potato and enter the number of ounces in the space provided on the Calorie King program. Once you indicate the weight of your potato, Calorie King will calculate and display a nutrition facts food label for a baked russet potato of the size you entered.

Another popular app is MyFitnessPal, which helps you track your foods and physical activity. It also has a massive food database. The benefit of pairing a food database with a food scale is added accuracy in carb counting.