Losing Weight, Slimming Apps

Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie

Hi and welcome back.

Even the best laid plans of mice and men are thrown aside sometimes.  My dieting regime had gone a little off balance recently.  Nothing alarming but enough to make me think that my own advice wasn’t working terribly well.

It came about from me just feeling hungrier than normal, and rather than stoically keeping to the calorie count, I gave in to the craving whilst saying “back to good behaviour tomorrow”.   Sometimes you simply can’t resist your body saying “feed me” like raving mad super pot plant Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors.

I avoided the pull of the dark side thanks to my phone.

I had previously written about apps that assist you with dieting, and had briefly mentioned MyNetDiary.  Despite singing its praises, I’ve been diligently writing down my calories in a notebook because I just found it easy.    Why I decided to give MyNetDiary a second chance is anyone’s guess but I figure that it was something that could calm my stroll to larger waist jeans.

I think my biggest objection, (and this may be down to my Scottish ancestry) was that it was free on Android and $4 on the AppStore, but I remembered it had been the best of the apps I’d tried before I returned to simple pencil and paper and downloaded it anyway.

I was surprised to find that it was the push I needed.

For those of you who’ve never heard of it, its a simple app (it can do a lot more if you start paying for premium services) that shows you your net calorie consumption and remaining balance based on its calculation of a few parameters you supply.

Android Diet Utility 1


Basically you give it your current weight, height and age and your target weight.  It then establishes the reasonable calorie limit it has computed you need to stick to to get to your target in, in my case a month.   It was 15 calories off of the 1800 value I’ve always successfully used in times I’ve been over the BMI which was was inspiring.

You then select a meal group from Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks and then add what you eat.  It handily has a scanner so you can use barcodes to short cut the process, though it can sometimes give you values that are less than a standard serving because of whatever database tables it establishes its version of a serving.  To get around this there’s a custom mode where you can enter anything you want, along with its calorie count.  It also allows you to add detailed data for the food if you have it, while seeming to miss the point that you’re using custom mode because you don’t have these figures to hand, or need to butcher them significantly were you of a mind to supply what for me is way too much information.

The app provides useful feedback about the food / drink you add.  If you click on the > to the right of the Analysis summary on it’s lead screen you get a summary of progress to date (called Bottom line) which explains how far under standard calorie consumption you’re having to manage and the rate it predicts you’re losing weight at.  (All positive news).  Below this there’s a Day highlights section which enthusiastically lists the good points of your performance while not playing up too significantly minor bad points (like including 5 grams of ‘fiber’ – it’s misspelling not mine.

I’ve only been using it a few days, and it has coerced me back towards target, which I definitely wasn’t on a few days and several chocolate bars ago.

I’ve found so far that it’s marvellous if you eat a lot of pre packaged food, where its scanner can (with a few excursions into silliness re servings) and background logic can confidently establish your calorie count.  Where I’ve found its not so easy is when you prepare your own food, for example by making your own sandwiches.

Before the app, I’d reasonably guess the calories dependent on portion size, e.g. 50 grams of Tuna.  With the app, you feel passively persuaded to get this right and enter the right information, which leads to the weighing scales coming out and extra effort (probably using uncounted calories in their own right) has to be expended to obtain the proper figure.   I say passively because the 1 and 0 counting phone app has no idea of anything else aside from its quite clever AI assisted logic.  You could be a pink pelican for all it cares.  That would almost be an advantage because you never see them fussing around with weighing scales.

I also found that the initial enthusiasm of patiently scanning and correcting the program began to give way to a little bit of indifference, when I realised that MyNetApp (as far as I’m aware) is not at all concerned about regular use.  It positively gushes if you enter your weight readings, but doesn’t castigate you, or broadcast your failure to utilise its clever interface to all and sundry on the web if you just ignore it.   I find myself just being lazy with it – it needs you to be diligent and painstaking, and sometimes that’s just not part of my day (unless it comes to my job where I’m being paid to be painstaking).

Despite the fact that at present I feel that I will inexorably be drawn back to pencil and paper, I am sticking with it because without being melodramatic I feel it’s a temporary guiding light to get me back on the path, and when I’m still recovering from injury it’s a help.

It isn’t too heavy on paid services reminders but you find that after a while a little reluctance creeps in to using its links because half of them inevitably lead to billed premium services.  This is fine once you can differentiate between them, but the more you explore the more you encounter these and you do begin to wonder why you had to pay for the app (on iphone at least) when so much of it is only unlocked by an £84 a year subscription (£7 per month).  I don’t pay that to Netflix so the chances I’ll succumb and press the purchase buttons is remote.

Saying this it has enough on board to keep you exploring, including a food check function you can use when buying food which allows you to compare it with similar offerings, the ability to link activity trackers and access to forums used by other people  using the app.

I’m going to use the app for another two weeks and see if my grumblings were excessive or bang on, and compare two other apps with it to see which looks the best value.

If you have observations on your use of this or any other weight loss app I’m sure those looking for help with their slimming regime would be interested, particularly if you’ve found any apps to become erstwhile electronic companions that you’d now be reluctant to part company with.

Bearing in mind this is only part 1 of a two parter, if you think this has been useful please click the like button so more people can see the article.   There may be other useful stuff in my previous blogs that will assist with your diet.

If you’re wondering where the reference to ‘best laid plans of mice and men’ came from, it wasn’t from me, but originates from Robert Burn’s poem ‘To a Mouse’ about a farmer apologising to a mouse for wrecking his home while ploughing, and is the origin of the also much quoted ‘Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie’.  Of Mice and Men is also of course the title of the famous novel by Ernest Hemingway.


Here’s one for reference.

Last and not least, keep up your dieting – you will make it!

See you in a couple of weeks and hopefully not too many choccy bars.



Advice about snacking on a diet, Determining calories in food

How to measure calorie count and start this weight loss plan

Hi and welcome back.

This article shows how to measure calories in your food and drink, and shows how  you can lessen the bodies automatic reaction where it locks down energy reserves in what it perceives as a crisis.

If you’ve been reading this series, you may have already read about how to put your stats on the NHS Choices website, establish your BMI and get a reasonable range of calorie count to work within.  Calorie counting is an important part of this plan.  If you’ve never counted calories before or have, and found it a pain, I hope that the following section will make it easier.

Most packaged foods have calorie information on them.  If you buy fresh food from a market, greengrocers, butchers or fishmonger, you’ll need to work it out, and there are a number of ways that you can do this;  You can use a calorie book or values from a website, or alternatively for those comfortable with apps, you can use a utility like Calorie Counter which is shown below and can be used on your phone or pad.

Android Diet Utility 1


These utilities also analyse the food and drink you eat, calculate targets and provide diet tips and advice.  If you cook with your phone by your side, these have got to be the easiest option, and save you from ever having to write down and calculate totals yourself.

Another neat aspect of them is that they allow you to scan products to find them more easily.

It takes a little while to put custom food and drink in, but the saving in writing down and arithmetic is well worth it.


It plots your progress through the day and shows you where you are for the day and on your plan.  It doesn’t allow you to create a plan on it which has you losing 2 lbs or more per week, so it kind of validates the 1.5 lb limit I mentioned before.

There are plenty of alternatives, and I plan to write a review of the best of them as part of this site.

Supermarket shopping seems easy enough, but there are a number of things you should consider when buying packaged food:

Nutrician facts

  • Calories are often shown per product, per x grams and per 100 grams.  So you have to be careful which figure you’re reading.  The x grams figure is usually a normal portion.
  • Sometimes the manufacturers endeavour to make their products look less calorie laden by only displaying half the calories.  Look carefully and you’ll see (in small print) something like “half of this (e.g. pizza) is equal to x calories”.  Double it up and you’re closer to the true figure.
  • Sometimes labels say things like 1/9th of this (e.g. cake) is x calories.  I think you’re doing really well if you’re dividing a cake into nine before eating it, and sticking to the portions they suggest.
  • Some supermarkets now use colour-coded nutrition labels on their own products to help shoppers make more informed choices.  Sainsburys helpfully explain how this works on their healthy eating pages.  Greener food choices generally follow a lighter calorie path.


This sounds bad, after all shouldn’t you be religiously sticking to 3 meals a day?

Actually snacking can help your diet.  If your normal regime is three meals a day, and you don’t normally snack have a snack of 50 to 100 calories between each meal.  If you find that you snack a lot, try and cut down so that the total between meals is 100 cals or less.


Because you’re likely to be eating less (otherwise I guess you wouldn’t be reading this) your body will notice and may start changing the way it stores energy.  Although you’re the boss, your body may have different ideas – it doesn’t know that the change in eating habits doesn’t signal a crisis of some type, and will actively take steps to protect itself by changing the way that it processes and stores food, so that energy use is limited.  Needless to say this isn’t helpful if you’re trying to lose weight.

How do you stop this happening? Its unlikely that you’re going to stop your bodies autonomic reaction completely but you can slow it down by tricking it a little.  Snacking will camouflage the diet because at least some food will be coming in, and persuade your body that it can cancel the panic button.

Like an engine that’s turned off, food processing takes a while to get going when its stopped.  If you keep your engine idling, you’ll process food faster when you eat your meals.  Wasteful in a car but really useful when you’re dieting.

Do remember to snack though – its easy to forget or think “I’m not hungry” but that’s not the point – you’re doing it to prevent your body taking steps to lock down fat reserves and to steer it towards processing food faster.


Useful snacks are fruit, low calorie crisps, crispbread, muesli bars, low calorie yoghurts and cup a soups.  If you’re particularly fond of vegetables, you can try chopped carrots or celery.  NB: You have to eat quite a bit of both of those to consume the same calorie count. I’m sure you can think of your own low calorie snacks you can add to the list.

Try to have moderate snacks in between meals, e.g. at 10 am if you have breakfast at 8 and lunch at 12.  This will allay your bodies concerns and keep your metabolism geared up.

Feeling Hungry

Feeling hungry may not be something you’ve experienced for a while.  I wasn’t used to it, and it made me realise how much I ate when I wasn’t actually hungry.   Sticking to your calorie limits should address this.  Remember, you’ve been used to eating more and your stomach hasn’t yet adjusted.  Its expecting food in the quantities that you used to eat.  After a while it will actually reduce its size slightly and you’ll find that the occasions that you feel really hungry will start to reduce.

Key Points

These are the key points from the blog articles so far.

  • To reduce weight you need to consume more energy than you take on board.
  • A healthy ideal BMI is between 18.5 and 25.
  • Like a ship on a course, you should have an idea of your target weight, how much weight you’re going to lose per week, and when you anticipate reaching your target.  (If you don’t know this, have a look back at this page or create a plan on your mobile app.
  • (Moderate) snacking is ok and can help prevent your body fighting your weight loss efforts.

Your next step

This article has shown you how to measure calories in food and drink, and introduced the idea that snacking (within limits) isn’t bad for you and can counter adverse body reaction.

You now know enough to start the weight loss plan.

Try to split your day into your three main meals, allot maximum calories you can to each of these and add in the calories for your snacks.  Have a go at keeping close to your calorie limits.  The closer you can get to the lower limit off of the NHS Choices BMI page, the more weight you will lose.  Just managing to keep within the top limit doesn’t mean you won’t lose weight – you’ll just not lose it so fast.

Next Time

The next article, due on Saturday the 11th of November will show you:

  • How to count calories when cooking meals from fresh ingredients.
  • What to do when you’re cooking for more than just you.
  • What to do if you miss your day’s target completely or you find yourself in a situation where you cannot count the calories.
  • Discusses calories you may not be counting (that make a difference), and the foods which have so few calories you really shouldn’t bother.  You may be surprised what you miss.

Thanks for reading.  I hope that this helps you and that you can make it back for the next article on Saturday.  If you’ve been impressed by this post please click the LIKE button. (Its in the Share This section below).

Have a great weekend.


[1] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263028.php