We've yet to see a wearable device that can automatically track what you eat — and it looks like we won't for some time — so what's a quantified nerd to do? Orange Chef's Prep Pad scale and companion Countertop app make tracking your food intake easier, including not only calories but also the nutritional breakdown, so you can aim for balanced meals while keeping an eye on portion size.
Since we're stuck logging our meals manually for now, you might think spending $150 on a smart food scale is overkill. After all, manual calorie traking is built into comprehensive health-tracking apps like Fitbit and Jawbone, as well as tons of dedicated food-tracking apps like Tap & Track.
Those all require you to look up foods in a database, which has some big drawbacks: You can confirm that the calorie counts are accurate if you're eating a lot of packaged foods that print nutrition information on the wrapper. But that's a terrible way to eat. Cooking from scratch is far healthier, but harder to track. Your database might say an apple is 70 calories. How big an apple? What if I don't eat the whole thing? What about this dish I'm making that has a dozen ingredients? Since Prep Pad weighs each ingredient, the calorie tracking will be more accurate. And if you build a multi-ingredient dish and then save it, you can weigh out a portion of leftovers later and know just how many calories you're about to microwave up for lunch.
But calories aren't even the whole story. Prep Pad keeps an eye on your nutrition too by breaking down everything you eat into ratios of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. That way you can be sure each meals is balanced, and keep an eye on how balanced your diet is over the course of a day or a week. Let's walk through how it works.
When you first launch the Countertop app, available for iPad 3 and later, you'll set up your profile. It asks for your height and weight and activity level, and you'll be forgiven for thinking you might have launched Fitbit by mistake. Countertop needs those stats to determine how many calories you should eat each day, and it defaults to the USDA's recommended nutritional ratios: 50 percent carbs, 20 percent protein, and 30 percent fat. But you can tweak those to your liking.
Once you're ready to get cooking, you just have to press the Prep Pad's single button to connect it to your iPad through Bluetooth. Thanks to Bluetooth Smart, this happens right inside the Countertop app — you don't have to back out to the iPad's Settings app to pair.
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