Research suggests that tracking food and exercise helps people meet their weight loss, healthy eating, and fitness goals. These days, people have such busy lifestyles and spend more time than ever on their phones, so downloading diet apps provides a convenient way to track your goals and help you shred a few extra pounds.
Ginger Hultin, a Seattle-based RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of ChampagneNutrition , says tracking offers “accountability and awareness,” and could increase the amount of weight people lose.
But, she cautions that some of the diet apps may sometimes suggest fewer calories for people than they actually need in a day and not take into account an individual’s unique needs and goals.
“The best way to use an app or tracking is in conjunction with a registered dietitian who can help you with your interpretation of the results and make them actionable,” Hultin says, explaining that professionals can help you find the “best way to make (diet apps) work for you.”
We asked nutritionists and fitness experts to share their favorite diet apps that can help you lose weight for good.
Noom one of the most popular diet apps that has been praised for its personalization, expert coaching, food logging and options for healthy weight and diabetes management programs. Registered dietician Dr. Carolyn Williams, author of “Meals that Heal,” says “hands down,” Noom is her favorite app for weight loss, since it focuses on the psychological aspects of food choices and habits and takes a “lifestyle approach” to helping people make better choices.
MyFitnessPal is a longtime favorite diet app with users praising its massive food database and ability to link up with other apps, like FitBit. Amanda Tress, a certified nutrition coach, personal trainer and CEO and founder of Faster Way to Fat Loss, recommends MyFitnessPal to her clients to track food and calculate macronutrients, which she says is “more effective than trying to track and reduce calories in order to burn fat.” Tress suggests logging food and setting macro goals to 45 percent carbs, 25 percent proteins and 30 percent fats in the app.
If you want more features, you can purchase MyFitnessPal Premium for $9.99/month, or $49.99/year.
Lose It! was ranked the best app for “tech-savvy dieters” by ConsumerAffairs, and is one of the popular diet apps used today. Users can set their weight loss goals and track their progress by logging food and exercise. The app features a huge food database, allowing dieters to search, scan a barcode or upload a picture of the food. It also features weight loss games and challenges to keep you motivated.
If you want more features, you can purchase Lose It! Premium for $79.99/year.
The Couch to 5K training app provides fitness plans and virtual coaches to help running newcomers (or anyone else) race to the finish line. The app calculates distance, maps out routes, and boasts that users who train with the app 20 to 30 minutes per day three times a week will be 5K ready in nine weeks. Plus, Couch to 5K syncs up with your favorite playlists to help you stay inspired on your run.
$4.99, for iOS.
Rachel Fine, a registered dietician nutritionist and owner of consulting firm To The Pointe Nutrition, loves Nutrients because it lets users assess the nutrient content of foods, rather than count calories or carbs. The app provides a full nutrient profile of hundreds of thousands of different foods, and you can create recipes and keep a food journal.
ShopWell is a “great tool for navigating the grocery store, especially snack aisles,” Fine says. The app has a barcode scanner to help users find foods that align with their dietary goals, food allergies, likes and dislikes, and it offers personalized food recommendations.
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High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is one of the best exercise programs for weight loss, heart health, and overall fitness. With the Seconds Interval Timer app, you set up and time work and rest periods for a custom workout. You can create individual routines for high or lower intensity, with number and length of sets and other features.
$29.99/year, on iOS.
Breaking bad habits and adopting better ones is a must for achieving health, weight loss or fitness goals. Nick Rizzo, fitness research director at RunRepeat.com, recommends the Productive Habit Tracker to help schedule and track your progress on healthy habits, like meditation, eating a good meal or going for a run. The tracker offers motivation to “help you keep pushing forward,” he says.
If you don’t want to commit to a year, you can purchase this app for $6.99/month.
Fitness app Aaptiv offers an array of on-the-go fitness classes for all levels, including running, yoga, rowing, strength training and more—and, new workouts are added regularly. Each workout is led by a trainer and features a curated playlist. Link it to Apple Health and track your calorie burn.
If you want to make a longer commitment, you can purchase this app for $99.99/year or $399.99/lifetime.
Fooducate is a food and fitness tracker that not only lets you track calorie count, but also calorie quality. You can examine macronutrients, including fats, protein and carbs, along with sleep, mood and hunger levels. Fooducate will also calculate the nutritional value of your favorite recipes, and offers diet, health and weight loss tips, and community support.
Free, for iOS.
Eating out when you’re dieting or embracing a certain eating lifestyle can be tough. HowUDish helps by providing nutritional information about meals from different restaurants. The app is searchable by diet types, like vegetarian. HowUDish also lets you meet new friends or find dates and bond over similar eating patterns, favorite dishes or health goals.
Best known as a step tracker, Fitbit actually lets you keep up with lots of other things to help meet your weight loss goals. The app tracks daily activity, sleep, calories burned, hydration, food intake, heart rate, and weight. Fitbit also sends badges when you meet a goal or hit a milestone to encourage you to keep going.
FatSecret is a calorie tracker and food diary, helping you keep up with what you eat and meet your diet and health goals. The app uses photo recognition or a barcode scanner to analyze your food. You can also track exercise and weight. FatSecret’s community offers support to keep you motivated.
If you want extra features, you can purchase FatSecret Premium for $6.99/month or $38.99/year.
MyNetDiary calls itself a “personal weight loss, diet and nutrition assistant” and provides a number of useful features to help you stay on top of your goals. The app features food and exercise tracking, diet planning, weight loss charts, daily analysis and a community of support. The premium version syncs with Fitbit’s activity trackers and body scale and provides personalized dieting advice and tips.
MyFitness by Jillian Michaels was named the “best celebrity fitness app” by Prevention. The app includes hundreds of customized daily workouts tailored to an individual’s fitness level and weight loss or training goal, with a video of Michaels demonstrating the proper form for each move. It also includes meal plans created by professional chefs and dietitians.