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Calorie Counter Review: Keep Track of Your Intake

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Calorie Counter by FatSecret

    PCWorld Rating

Calorie Counter is a free and comprehensive food log app for Android. It provides several ways to keep track of what you eat and how much exercise you get, and to get a sense of how many calories you take in and burn off.

The app tries to tailor a daily "calorie budget" specifically to your needs. To set it up, you must open a free account with weight-loss website FatSecret.com, and then answer multiple personal questions about such parameters as your age, gender, height, weight, lifestyle (active or sedentary, with several grades in between), and goal weight.

Once done, you get a calorie "budget" (2400 kcal in my case). Thereafter, in order for the app to be useful, you have to log everything you eat, along with any exercise you do.

The app makes an effort to be internationally relevant by providing "regions": Select your region from a list, and Calorie Counter will adjust its lists of available foods to show meals and brands that are probably sold where you live. For example, when I set my region to Italy and tried to log a beer, it presented me with choices such as "Birra Moretti"; and other exotic-sounding brands.

Regrettably, the list of locales is a bit limited, and my actual location was not among them. Another issue is that portion sizes are sometimes measured in imperial units only: When I tried to log a shot of Irish Cream, the app required me to list it as "1 fl. oz," which is not a unit I'm familiar with, since I'm outside the United States. This doesn't always happen, however.

Whenever you log a new food (that is, something you haven't reported eating before), the app queries an online database--an operation that can take a moment or two, depending on your connection. You can log new foods by scanning their barcodes (if packaged), by navigating through extensive menus, or by searching for them manually.

Once you've logged a food, the app makes it easy for you to log it again, by holding it in a "Recently Eaten" list--useful in case you decided to go back for a second cookie. It also keeps track of foods that you frequently log and makes them available in a "Most Eaten" list. You can also save meals composed of several individual items.

Calorie Counter features a large (4-by-2-block) home-screen widget that shows your daily budget as a large square composed of 100 smaller squares. As you go through your day, logging foods and exercise, the squares gradually fill up, providing you with instant visual feedback about how your day is going, and helping you stay on track. A numeric display shows exactly how many calories you have left.

You can also use the widget to scroll to past and future dates, but every such switch takes a moment (3 to 5 seconds, on my phone) to complete, even if you're just scrolling one day back.

One major drawback of the app is that it doesn't offer any sort of password protection. Anyone passing by your device can instantly see your caloric intake for the day and, with a couple of taps, can stroll through your entire diet and exercise log.

If you don't mind the potential privacy concerns, though, Calorie Counter is a solid and professional food and exercise log, at a great price (free).

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Calorie Counter by FatSecret

    PCWorld Rating
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