How a Smartwatch App Can Reliably Track Calories Without Food Journaling

Lumme Health - Weight Loss App - Blog - Calorie Tracking Explained

It turns out that the most popular method of food journaling isn’t the only way to calculate your calories. Passively tracked, bite-based estimates used by LUMME’s smartwatch apps are not only scientifically proven, but can actually be more accurate than human-based estimates, even with the aid of calorie information.

How is this possible?

Let’s first take a look at the status quo.

Calorie counting has always been hard to stick with and highly prone to error for two reasons:

  1. The huge burden of journaling everything we eat
  2. Correctly estimating portion sizes


Is calorie tracking useful?

Yes, of course.  It’s a measurement of our energy intake, which directly impacts our weight and health.

Why is there controversy?

A lot of the controversy over calorie counting is rooted in the inherent difficulty of doing it well. And, the real answer to, “Is a calorie just a calorie?” is not so simple.  While the value describes the amount of energy that your body can extract from the food that you eat, we also know that healthy foods help you to feel strong, energized, and satiated. Foods that contain a lot of “empty calories” like processed foods, fatty meats, and snack foods don’t provide your body with the nutrients you need to live an active, healthy life.

Why is food journaling/calorie tracking still used?

Food journaling/meal tracking/calorie counting is the long-standing and critical strategy for weight loss.  It raises awareness and provides a critical measurement that can be managed, improved and used to shape our health.

“So how does the app know what I’m eating?”

This is a common question that speaks to the painstaking nature of traditional calorie counting, and also why it’s so highly prone to error.

What you eat will always matter to good health. And the food choices you make will impact your daily calories.  It’s also true that the math on calories depends a lot on portion sizes — simply how much you eat.

Portion size is something we measure pretty well in the form of a bite. By solving the volume part of the equation first, we create a much more efficient process that’s also surprisingly effective.

LUMME’s bite-based estimates establish a personalized caloric proxy for each bite using an individual’s profile details (gender, age, height, weight) and refines calorie estimates using a simple ‘Meal Type’ slider that makes adjustments based on what a user eats.

What about the energy density of different foods?

Chances are, you’re not eating all salad and you’re not eating all cookies. Rather, it’s a combination of various foods, healthy or unhealthy, all of which contribute to your calories and management of your weight.

For simplicity, LUMME defaults all meals and snacks to a composite Meal Type containing a ‘Mix of High and Low-Calorie Foods’. If you’ve eaten mainly ‘Low Calorie Foods’ (salad, fish, fruit, vegetables) or ‘High-Calorie Foods’ (burgers, pizza, sweets), a simple tap of the Meal Type slider makes it easy to refine the calorie estimate.

Lumme Health - Weight Loss App - Blog - Calorie Tracking Explained - Calorie Slider

What you get is a high-quality and reliable calorie estimate that actually improves over time and eliminates the burden of journaling everything you eat.

Of course, automated calorie tracking is just the beginning. In our forthcoming behavioral app for eating and weight management, we leverage the full capabilities of LUMME’s patented, behavior change platform, which injects state-of-the-art passive eating detection technology into decades of illuminating behavioral science to provide actionable insights into your eating habits, predictions to stay ahead of problem areas, and A.I. assistance at just the right times to achieve your goals.

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