The 10 Best Weight Loss Apps

Weight loss apps are incredibly useful. They are programs you can download to your mobile device and use to track various lifestyle habits, such as calorie intake and exercise. Some of them have unique characteristics as well, such as financial rewards and support forums, that help keep you motivated toward your weight loss goal. Not only are weight loss apps easy to use, but many of their benefits are also supported by scientific evidence. Several studies have shown that self-monitoring may promote weight loss by increasing awareness of your habits and progress (12). Here are 10 of the best weight loss apps that can help you shed unwanted pounds.

1. Lose It!

Lose It! is a user-friendly weight loss app focused on calorie counting and weight tracking. Through an analysis of your weight, age and health goals, Lose It! generates your daily calorie needs and a personalized weight loss plan. Once your plan is established, you can easily log your food intake into the app, which pulls from a comprehensive database of over 7 million foods, restaurant items and brands. Additionally, the app’s barcode scanner can be used to add some foods to your log. It saves foods that you enter frequently, so you can quickly select them from a list whenever you eat them. You’ll also get reports of daily and weekly calorie intake. If you use the app to keep track of your weight, it will present your weight changes on a graph. What makes Lose It! different from other weight loss apps is that it has a “Snap It” feature, which allows you to track your food intake and portion sizes simply by taking pictures of your meals. Studies have shown that taking pictures of your meals may help you keep track of portion sizes more accurately and observe trends in your dietary intake, both of which are helpful for promoting weight loss (4567). Another highlight of Lose It! is its community component, where you can participate in challenges with other users and share information or ask questions in a forum.

Pros

  • Lose It! has a team of experts that verify the nutrition information of the foods in their database.
  • It is extremely easy to sign up for Lose It! and there is no cost unless you want access to the premium version.
  • You can sync Lose It! with other weight loss and fitness apps.

Cons

  • Lose It! doesn’t keep track of the vitamins and minerals that you consume.
  • The food database is missing some popular brands that you might expect to find otherwise.

2. SparkPeople

SparkPeople allows you to log your daily meals, weight and exercise with their user-friendly tracking tools. What makes SparkPeople unique is that its nutrition database is much larger than other popular apps. In fact, it contains over 3,000,000 food items. Additionally, it includes a barcode scanner, making it easy for you to keep track of any packaged foods that you eat. When you sign up for SparkPeople, you gain access to their exercise demo component. This includes photos and descriptions of many common exercises, so you can ensure you are using proper techniques during your workouts. There is also a points system integrated into SparkPeople. As you log your habits and achieve your goals, you will receive “points,” which can be used for personal motivation.

Pros

  • The SparkPeople app is free.
  • Those who use the app have access to SparkPeople’s health and fitness articles in addition to an interactive online community.

Con

  • SparkPeople provides a significant amount of information, which may be difficult to sort through.

3. MyFitnessPal

Calorie counting is a proven weight loss tool (13). One popular app, MyFitnessPal, integrates calorie counting into its strategy for supporting weight loss. MyFitnessPal calculates your daily calorie needs and allows you to log what you eat throughout the day from a nutrition database of over 5 million different foods. This even includes many restaurant foods that are not always easy to track. After you enter your food intake, MyFitnessPal provides a breakdown of the calories and nutrients that you consumed throughout the day. The app can generate a few different reports, including a pie chart that gives you an overview of your total fat, carb and protein consumption. One of MyFitnessPal’s unique features is its barcode scanner, which makes it easy to enter the nutrition information of some packaged foods. You can also track your weight and search for healthy recipes with MyFitnessPal. Furthermore, it has a message board where you can connect with other users to share tips and success stories.

Pros

  • MyFitnessPal has a “Quick Add” feature, which you can use when you know the number of calories you ate but don’t have the time to enter in all the details of your meal.
  • If you use fitness-tracking apps, such as Fitbit, MyFitnessPal will sync with them and adjust your calorie needs based on what you burned via exercise.
  • Although there is a premium version with extra features you can pay for, the basic version is free to use.

Cons

  • The nutrition information of the foods in the database may not be entirely accurate, as most of them are entered by other users.
  • Due to the size of the database, there are often multiple options for one food item, meaning you may have to spend some time to find the “correct” option to log.
  • Adjusting serving sizes in the app may be time-consuming.

4. Fitbit

One potential way to shed pounds is by keeping track of your exercise habits with a wearable activity tracker (111213). Fitbits are an excellent resource to help you track physical activity. They are wearable devices that measure your activity level throughout the day by recording the number of steps taken, miles walked, stairs climbed and heart rate. Those who use Fitbits have access to the Fitbit app, which is where all of your physical activity information is synced. You can also keep track of your food and water intake, sleep habits and weight goals with Fitbit. Fitbit also has strong community features. The app allows you to connect with your friends and family who use Fitbit. You can participate in various “challenges” with them and share your progress if you choose. Depending on the type of Fitbit you have, you can set alarms as reminders to get up and exercise, and Fitbit will send notifications to your phone to tell you how close you are to your fitness goals for the day. Additionally, you receive “awards” whenever you achieve a specific goal. For example, you may receive the “New Zealand Award” once you walk 990 lifetime miles, signifying that you’ve walked the entire length of New Zealand. There are several other devices and apps similar to Fitbit, such as Jawbone UP, Apple Watch and Google Fit.

Pros

  • Fitbit provides you with a considerable amount of information, so you can keep good track of your weight and health goals.
  • The app is extremely easy to use and has several ways of showing you your progress and keeping you motivated.

Con

  • In order to use the exercise, sleep and heart rate components of the app, you must own a Fitbit device, which can be expensive.

 

5. Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers is a company that offers various services to assist with weight loss and maintenance. Their aim is to help participants lower their calorie intake by assigning “points” to foods based on their calorie, saturated fat and sugar content. The higher a food is in these components, the more “points” it has.

Based on individual goals, each person is assigned a specific amount of “points” to aim for in their diet. You can participate in Weight Watchers by attending their in-person meetings, which are held in various locations throughout the US. Additionally, Weight Watchers has an online-only program you can sign up for.

A few studies have demonstrated the positive effects that Weight Watchers may have on weight control (141516). One review of 39 studies found that people who participated in Weight Watchers achieved at least 2.6% greater weight loss than those who did not participate (14). If you are a member of Weight Watchers, you can use their app to monitor your progress. It allows you to log your food intake and keep track of your “points.” A barcode scanner makes it easy to enter foods.

Furthermore, the Weight Watchers app has a component that will assist you with making healthy choices while eating out. They have a list of some restaurant dishes and their point totals, which you can add to your intake with the click of a button. Another benefit of the Weight Watchers app is its broad collection of recipes that you can search based on meal time and dietary requirements.

Pros

  • The Weight Watchers app has many features to help keep you motivated, including its “Journey” tab, which provides details and graphs to show your progress over time.
  • There is a “Connect Page” that gives you access to the Weight Watchers social community where you can view updates from other members.

Cons

  • You have to be a member of Weight Watchers to use the app.
  • There is a cost associated with Weight Watchers. It costs about $8.92 USD per week to attend meetings and $3.91 per week for the online program.

6. FatSecret

Having a support system may be helpful for weight management. FatSecret focuses on providing its users with that support. It allows you to log your food intake, monitor your weight and interact with other people through its community chat feature. Not only are you able to chat with other users through FatSecret, but you can also join groups to connect with people who have similar goals.

Research has shown that individuals who have social support tend to be more successful at achieving and maintaining weight loss than those who do not receive social support (8910). In one study, 88% of subjects who joined an internet weight loss community reported that being part of a group supported their weight loss efforts by providing encouragement and motivation (10). In addition to a large collection of healthy recipes that you can make, FatSecret features a journal where you can record information about your weight loss journey, such as your successes and drawbacks.

What makes FatSecret stand out from other weight loss apps is its “My Professionals” tool, in which you can share your food, exercise and weight data with your preferred healthcare providers.

Pros

  • FatSecret’s nutrition database is comprehensive and includes many restaurant and supermarket foods that would be difficult to track otherwise.
  • Not only does FatSecret show you your daily calorie intake, but it also has the ability to display your monthly calorie averages, which is helpful for monitoring progress.
  • It is very easy to sign up and free of cost.

Con

  • Due to its many different components, FatSecret can be difficult to navigate.

7. Pact

Pact is a weight loss app that uses cash stakes to keep you motivated and help you achieve your goals. When you sign up for Pact, you choose a specific amount of money to pay out to other members if you don’t reach your goals by the end of the week. Weekly payments typically range from $0.30 to $5 USD.

If you do reach your goals, you receive a cash reward that is paid for by members who missed their goals. Several studies have shown financial incentives to be beneficial for promoting weight loss, which is likely the reason why Pact has been suggested as a helpful tool for dieters (17181920). In one study, individuals who were offered a financial reward of $10 for meeting their weight loss goal lost about 10 more pounds over 16 weeks compared to those who were not offered the incentive (21).

There are three different types of “pacts” you can choose to commit to through the app: a gym pact, veggie pact and food logging pact. Met goals are “verified” by the Pact community after they’ve seen photos of your meals or by ensuring you’ve filled out your workout or food log. If you use Pact, you will also need a MyFitnessPal account to log your food intake. The apps sync with each other, so you can easily see your progress toward your nutrition goals.

Pros

  • You can tailor your use of the app to your specific goals and lifestyle.
  • Pact may be incredibly effective for weight loss, especially if you are motivated by its financial incentives.

Cons

  • The app can get expensive, especially if you don’t follow through with your goals and have to pay out every week.
  • Pact doesn’t have a built-in food log. You have to use a different app to keep track of your food intake. Using multiple apps at once may become complicated.

8. Cron-O-Meter

Cron-O-Meter is another weight loss app you can use to track nutrition, fitness and health data. Similar to other apps, it has an extensive calorie-counting feature along with a database of over 50,000 different foods. Cron-O-Meter focuses on helping you obtain optimal nutrient intake while keeping your calorie intake under control. It tracks over 60 different nutrients, so you can make sure you’re meeting your dietary needs.

You also have access to a “Trends” feature, which displays your progress toward your weight goals over a specific time range. Another unique feature of Cron-O-Meter is its “Snapshot” section. Here, you can upload photos of your body to compare throughout your weight loss journey. It can also estimate your body fat percentage.

Additionally, the app offers a forum where you can start online discussions with other Cron-O-Meter users about various nutrition topics.

Pros

  • Compared to other apps, Cron-O-Meter can track significantly more nutrients, which is helpful if you are trying to improve your overall nutrient intake.
  • Cron-O-Meter can keep track of an extensive amount of information, including biometric data like cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
  • It is a very user-friendly app. Their website also has a blog and forum where users can ask questions and find information about how to use it.

Con

  • While the Cron-O-Meter website is free to use, the app costs $2.99 USD.

9. Fooducate

Making healthy choices while grocery shopping is extremely important for weight loss, but it can be overwhelming. Using an app like Fooducate may help you better navigate all of the different products at the grocery store. Fooducate is a “nutrition scanner” that allows you to scan a food’s barcode and receive detailed information on it, including nutrition facts and ingredients.

One unique aspect of Fooducate’s nutrition scanner is that it notifies you of unhealthy ingredients that are commonly hidden in products, such as trans fat and high-fructose corn syrup. Not only does Fooducate bring certain characteristics of foods to your attention — it also gives you a list of healthier alternatives to purchase. For example, if you scan a specific type of yogurt that contains a lot of added sugar, the app will show you some healthier yogurts to try instead.

Pros

  • Fooducate’s food grading system assists you with making choices based on your own dietary goals.
  • The app also has tools that allow you to keep track of your exercise habits and calorie intake.
  • You can scan certain products for allergens like gluten with Fooducate if you purchase a monthly subscription.

Con

  • Although the general version of the app is free, there are certain functions that are only available with a paid upgrade, including the health and nutrient tracking features.

10. HealthyOut

Eating out can be difficult if you’re trying to lose weight, due to the high-calorie dishes and large portions that many restaurants offer. Several studies have shown that individuals who eat out at fast-food or full-service restaurants tend to consume more calories and are more likely to gain weight compared to those who eat meals at home (22232425).

The best solution is to avoid eating out, which can be difficult if you live a busy, on-the-go lifestyle. If this is the case for you, downloading the HealthyOut app may be helpful. HealthyOut provides you with a list of healthy restaurant dishes that you can find in your area based on your selected nutrition preferences. You can filter the results with a variety of options, such as heart-healthy, paleo or vegetarian. Since HealthyOut helps you make better on-the-go food choices, using it may be a smart strategy to promote your weight loss efforts.

Pros

  • HealthyOut is free and easy to use.
  • It is incredibly useful for individuals who have specific dietary needs and food allergies.

Cons

  • Although the app has restaurant information from over 500 different cities, it is not useful if you live outside of the app’s focused areas.
  • It doesn’t sync with other apps.
  • HealthyOut doesn’t have a food or exercise logging feature like many other weight loss apps do.

The Bottom Line

There are several helpful apps that you can use to support your weight loss goals.

Many of them use tracking tools to monitor your weight, food intake and exercise habits, while others provide guidance for making healthy choices when grocery shopping or eating out.

Additionally, many weight loss apps have components meant to increase your motivation, including community support, point systems and tools that document the progress you’ve made over time.

Although there are several benefits to using weight loss apps, some do have downfalls. For example, some people may find them to be time-consuming and overwhelming.

Nevertheless, weight loss apps are certainly worth experimenting with to see if they can assist you with reaching your goals. With so many different features, you may need to try a few before finding one that best suits your needs.

Post originally appeared on Healthline

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