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Food Scanner: Scan Food Barcode and Count Calories using iPhone

So, if you’re counting calories—and who isn’t these days—you’ve probably seen the food and calorie trackers available for the iPhone; there are several. And although FoodScanner by DailyBurn was released in September, 2009, it recently went on sale and we thought now would be a great (meaning cheap) time to give it a whirl since we’ve heard many good things about it and its effectiveness.

In short, FoodScanner allows you to scan the barcodes of food packages, pulling up all the nutritional info you need to help you watch your caloric intake. Alternatively you can search for foods that won’t scan, or GASP!, don’t have barcodes. But you need to ask yourself, do you really want to eat something that doesn’t have a barcode? I don’t know, it’s a shaky issue; with no barcode how are we supposed to even know what it is, right? Moving on. You can scan or search for the foods you eat for every meal and FoodScanner will keep a running total of your calories for the day, along with other numbers like carbs, fat, protein, and more.

DailyBurn claims FoodScanner has a growing database of 200,000+ foods for reference, and they’re serious too because if you run across something that
FoodScanner doesn’t recognize, you can add the nutritional information yourself and it will be incorporated into the database.

FoodScanner couldn’t be easier to use. As soon as you bring it up you’re ready to begin tracking your food for the day. There’s a search bar along the top, or if you’re feeling lucky you can tap the little lightening bolt in the lower left corner (visible in the screenshot above), and that will bring up the UPC scanner which uses the iPhone’s built in camera and Occipital RedLaser technology to read the barcode and display the nutritional info in the database. From there you can choose the serving size you consumed (be honest!) and what meal it was for. FoodScanner does the rest!

Good thing I only had 4 of these today...

It doesn’t require an account with DailyBurn, but if you choose, you can sign up for a free account and get access to several other trackers available there. You can see charts and graphs breaking down your daily intake of fat or carbs. Or bugs. OK, not bugs, you shouldn’t eat bugs; I don’t want anybody walking away here saying I told you to eat bugs.

Anyway, the DailyBurn site is just crammed with all kinds of useful stuff to help you keep up with your health and weight, and even your exercise regimen. Like I said, you can opt for a free account which gives you limited access to DailyBurn’s useful tools, or if you’re really serious about your health you can sign up for one of their paid plans. But, fair warning, the plans seem to be on the expensive side in my opinion.

FoodScanner is presently on sale at the App Store for only $0.99 which is fantastic because the app does exactly what it says on the box and it does it pretty well. Used in conjunction with DailyBurn’s website, the app could be a powerful tool for the health conscious. (Do you feel a but coming up?)

But…

There’s one!!

So FoodScanner is a pretty cool app, it makes it easy to track your calories, and it has an impressive database of foods to pull from. I like it. But the limits placed on the free account at DailyBurn and the prices of the Pro plans kind of turned me off, especially given the functionality of the totally free site, SparkPeople, which also has an app for the iPhone (and it too is free). I haven’t done an in depth comparison of these services, but on the surface it seems that you can get as much or more for free from SparkPeople. You must decide for yourself.

If anyone has tried either service, feel free to share your opinion in the comments section; I could have totally underestimated DailyBurn, and if so, I’d love to hear about it.

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