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The Best Calorie Counting Apps fail at Diabetes Self Management

The Best Calorie Counting Apps fail at Diabetes Self Management

Calorie counters and food tracking apps like Lose It!, MyFitnessPal, Calorific, MyNetDiary, and so on are all doing a great job at tracking your calories.

The problem is...not all calories are the same. Not even close.

Yes, losing weight is important for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Calorie management can help the weight loss process.

But if you want to use nutrition as a part of your medication, or healing process, in a fight against diabetes? Counting calories is not going to be enough.

For your diabetes to be heading in the right direction, what food group your food belongs to may be more important than calories.

Many mobile health apps are missing an important step in managing or reversing diabetes.

child tired of counting on chalk board

Does Weight Loss Cure Diabetes?

In short: no.

And that’s why calorie counters aren’t yielding widespread results.

In case you didn't know: you don’t have to be obese to have diabetes! There is even research indicating that people with diabetes that are of normal weight may have double the risk of dying from heart disease than those who are overweight with diabetes.

The Twinkie Diet Study showed that you can lose weight eating anything if you are counting calories. Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate only (you guessed it) Twinkies and still managed to lose weight by managing his caloric intake.

See: Are the Foods You Eat Bringing Stability to Your Blood Sugar?

Some kinds of weight loss are not synonymous with better blood sugar control, or better health outcomes.

But weight loss is still very important. Though it doesn’t always reverse diabetes, it does have a profound effect in preventing it. Studies show that in many cases if you are obese (BMI of 30 or higher) losing 5 BMI points or on average 20-30 pounds, you may have a third of the chance of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the next two years.

Calorie Counters do not help with Specific Dietary Needs

A food log book can count calories all day but tell us little about the quality of our consumed energy.

This is because these apps are running on old programming. That all calories are the same.

good or bad egg scene from willy wonka

Foods with fiber provide a large rebate to your body, yet get counted as just another calorie source. 20% or more of calories from high fiber foods like nuts go unabsorbed, which has a positive effect on blood sugar control.

Resistant food elements like starches, fiber, and plant sterols throw a giant monkey wrench in the calorie counting machine.

Continuing Diabetes Education

There is medical consensus that refined carbs like those found in sugary drinks, candy, and other junk food are a bad idea for those trying to lose weight or control their diabetes.

Most would even agree that processed meats and high-fat animal products should be reduced or avoided as well.

Even more would tell you that some higher carbohydrate foods like rice, pasta or even beans should be restricted.

See: Reverse Type 2 Diabetes with Lifestyle Change

Even high fiber foods like beans, for example, do cause a noticeable blood sugar response. Beans have been given the title of having a 'second meal effect'. Repeated study shows that the consumption of the right foods improves your blood sugar response to the next meal versus those who did not.

Even the industry standard for estimating your blood sugar response, the glycemic index, would lead you to believe that something like a carrot had the same effect as a soda.

If it wasn't clear yet, our categorizing of food for logging purposes needs some revising.

Enough about whats wrong with cross measuring fake food and real foods or what foods you should avoid, let's talk about what foods you should be eating.

If it came from the earth, without a face or covered in butter, sugar or salt it is surely the best source of calories possible. This means fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

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