Like any other middle-aged GeekDad, my metabolism is starting to slow down and the time I have available for exercise is decreasing. What is a geek to do? So, of course, I turned to technology and found a highly entertaining and abusive app called CARROT Hunger: Talking Calorie Counter and CARROT has been whipping me into shape ever since.
I have been on and off of diets for the past 5 years or so, ever since I originally lost 40 pounds and for the most part have kept that weight off. Losing weight and gaining weight is not has hard as maintaining a certain weight. It’s darn near impossible. The key is to keep a consistent caloric intake and that is easier said than done. Most people need a little bit of “incentive” in order to stay within a reasonable amount of calories each day. CARROT does an excellent job of making the task of counting calories fun.
CARROT works like most most calories counting apps. Each time you eat you log your food into the app. CARROT gives you plenty of options to log food:
– Scan a bar code
– Select from commonly/recently logged foods
– Search for foods in the CARROT database
– Manually enter your own food
I’ve used a lot of calorie counting apps over the years and CARROT is by far the easiest to quickly and seamlessly enter your food into. If you have to do something many times a day it needs to be as simple and streamlined as possible. No unnecessary taps and menu navigation here. Just poke CARROT in the eye (ocular sensor) to enter a food item and prepare yourself for the snarky comments and insults that will be heading your way.
The setup of the CARROT app is also quite slick. CARROT walks you through setting up an account within the app asking you things like weight, height, age and caloric intake/weight loss goals. Of course, CARROT doesn’t believe you the first time you enter your weight and asks you to enter your REAL weight. CARROT also has some science built into the app, which believe it or not is a feature that I have not seen in any other calorie counting app I have used. CARROT will warn you if you select a daily calorie limit or weekly weight loss goal that is too aggressive and might put your body into “starvation” mode. You don’t want to throttle down your daily calories too much or else your body will start protecting itself from starvation and won’t burn fat. This is not ideal if you are trying to lose weight (i.e. shed fat). CARROT also works with the iOS Health features built into iOS. So if you log an exercise anywhere within your iOS device you get credit within the CARROT app and can consume more calories that day.
CARROT also has a rather “endearing” nickname for you as a default…”Meatbag.” Within the settings for the app you can choose to change this and have CARROT call you something either more or less offensive (but I think “meatbag” is an appropriate nickname for a snarky robot to have for me).
Notifications, Reminders and Punishments
You can choose to have CARROT remind you at specific times of the day to enter your meals into the app. There is also an advanced push notification reminder that uses the new Apple technology iBeacon. If you happen to have one of these iBeacon devices you can attach one on or near your refrigerator and CARROT will taunt and discourage you every time you approach your refrigerator.
Then, of course, there are the punishments that CARROT will dole out to you when you exceed your daily calorie goals. You think CARROT is a bit on the mean side normally? Just wait until you eat too much. The interface to the app changes, CARROT adds even more snark into her comments directed at you and she will even start showing you full screen advertisements (even if you have paid to have them removed via in-app-purchase).
Then, if you so choose, CARROT will even ask your friends to help discourage you from eating too much. You can allow CARROT to have access to your Twitter account and she will tweet out some rather interesting messages via your Twitter account on your behalf talking about how you are eating too much and cheating on your diet.
I have really been enjoying CARROT Hunger for iOS. Dieting and counting calories is not fun, but somehow CARROT makes it fun and makes me want to log my calories and stay on track. CARROT hunger is a free app in the iOS App Store, but does have some in-app-purchases. The “Ruthless Efficiency” add-on adds some shortcuts for entering food items and the “Ad Crusher” removes all ads from the app (except when you make CARROT really angry). You can also choose to “bribe” CARROT to look the other way for a particular food item and that item will not count against your daily calorie limit (a rather ingenious way to bring in a little revenue). There are also options to buy upgraded platforms for your avatar. You don’t need to purchase any of these in-app-purchases to get full use of the app, but I do recommend you consider one or several of these. When a developer puts out a truly entertaining and useful app like this they deserve to be rewarded.