by Shely Xu, Poppy Life Care Nutritional Program Manager
While any successful weight loss method comes down to eating fewer calories and increasing physical activity, many experts and scientific studies point to counting and keeping track of calories as one of the best ways to commit to not only losing the extra weight, but also to a lifestyle. They argue that If you track the number of calories you’re consuming and burning, the process and numerical approach can be motivational and it could encourage you to successfully stick to more-healthy-eating goals.
Tracking calories by yourself, however, is not easy. You certainly need knowledge about every single food product or ingredient, and even calculating full meals on a daily basis can be a headache. That said, by taking the math load off your head, calorie counter apps can make calorie tracking easy. While the main feature of calorie counter apps is their ability to keep record of calories and nutritional information, many apps also offer helpful tools with activity trackers, barcode scanners, meal planners, support forums, workout videos, and even ability to sync with wearable trackers, other devices, or apps.
That said, these are the best apps that we think will help you keep your new nutritious plans on track. Different dieters –and keep this in mind– will need different resources, but these apps focus on simply getting you started towards a successful lifestyle change!
Best Overall: Lifesum
Lifesum’s flexibility, user friendliness, integrated platforms, and motivational components easily make it the best dieting app to download. Lifesum not only lets you enjoy a simple and quick way to count calories, but it will also teach you how to eat healthier, plan for meals, understand the nutrient quality of different foods, and more.
If you’re just getting started, you can opt for the app’s kickstarter three-week weight loss program, during which you’ll get pre-planned meals, easy five-ingredient recipes, shopping lists, and support for as little as $3.75. From there, you can continue with another Lifesum plan or revert to the free version and simply count calories and track nutrients on your own.
Lifesum’s calorie counter features an impressive food database and a barcode scanner for easy logging. The app also supports macronutrient and net carb tracking, so if you need to count calories on a specific diet, Lifesum will work for you. No matter what you track, Lifesum gives you daily reports and a Life Score™ so you always know how you’re doing.
Best for Motivation: SparkPeople Calorie Tracker
If you tend to feel poorly motivated about your health and weight loss efforts, the SparkPeople Calorie Tracker app is for you, too. Not only will you get everything you need in a calorie tracker — such as a food database, barcode scanner, meal planner, exercise journal, and more — but you will also get access to a community forum and a support network full of health and fitness professionals who are there to help you!
The SparkPeople community component also features regular health and fitness challenges, which can help you stay motivated with extra support. The message boards, member stories, instructional fitness demo videos, and SparkPeople blog add multiple ways of support for diverse mentalities.
Best for Diet Support: MyNetDiary
If you want to do a little more than just count calories, you can track from specific nutrients to any diet with MyNetDiary. In addition to a basic calorie counter tool, MyNetDiary, too, allows you to set a focus, such as on macros, and it will keep you on the right track.
To use the app, you set your targets and diet plan by answering a few questions that MyNetDiary will use to create your daily calorie budget. You also get to choose your desired weekly weight loss rate, macronutrient intake, and target weight loss completion date. Once set up, you can start logging your food in the app.
In addition to its great calorie counting features, MyNetDiary also has great connectivity, which works great when connected to other products like Fitbits, Apple Watches, and more.
Best for Weight Loss: Lose It!
Overall, Lose It! is a great diet app and weight loss app mainly because it provides app users with such a simple way to log and count calories. Its four main features — goal-setting, food and exercise tracking, app and device integration, and community platform — make this app an easy addition to any health efforts you’re currently pursuing.
Lose It! also has a food database with more than seven million food products, from produce to packaged foods to restaurant meals. You can also create your own recipes to quickly log calories in one touch for recipes you eat often. For example, if you eat two eggs and two pieces of whole-wheat toast every morning, you can create a recipe and log the entire meal at once rather than logging the individual items each morning.
On top of that, the app’s barcode scanner or Snap It feature allows you to log food via photos. And to remind you to keep track with your goals, Lose It! provides weekly and monthly reports of your calorie and nutrient intake, as well as graphs to show your weight loss over time.
Best for Simplicity: ControlMyWeight
ControlMyWeight is the app for anyone who ONLY wants to count calories. There’s beauty in simplicity, and that shows with ControlMyWeight. When you open the app, you’ll be faced with a visually appealing, easy-to-navigate interface. The number of features on ControlMyWeight doesn’t compare to most of the other calorie counter apps on this list, but that’s exactly the point.
With ControlMyWeight, you can get focused on just the calories, which, in the end, is what will drive weight loss (though you shouldn’t discount the many benefits of nutrient-dense foods). If you do need a little help, ControlMyWeight still has your back: You can set up the app so that it sends you push notifications throughout the day, reminding you how many carbs, fats, and sugars you’ve eaten to help you stay on track. The app also features very simple weight charts so you can visualize your progress.
Best with Lots of Features: MyFitnessPal
Health, fitness advocates, and professionals point to MyFitnessPal as one of the best healthy-living apps on the market. That’s with good reason: MyFitnessPal makes food logging and calorie counting easy with its simple interface and food database of more than 11 million food items, by far one of the largest available.
MyFitnessPal also has a barcode scanner that recognizes millions of food products; a restaurant logging feature with meals from popular restaurants; a recipe importer so you can import nutrition information from your own recipes; and, perhaps best of all, an automatic calorie counting feature that compiles your calorie intake from all the food you log.
With MyFitnessPal you can accurately track nutrients and count calories on any diet, and that is thanks to the personalized diet profile and flexibility afforded by the app. To celebrate your success, check out the weight charts and nutrition insights, too!
Best with price -completely free: Calorie Counter by FatSecret
Most of the calorie counter apps on this list have free versions and paid versions. If you are looking for a calorie counter app that’s 100% free and still contains all of the features you need for successful calorie counting, go with Calorie Counter by FatSecret. This great app is actually a keto dieting app, but it also works as a calorie counter and food diary for any healthy eating lifestyle you choose.
Calorie Counter by FatSecret is fast, simple, and comprehensive: Enjoy access to a food diary, a large food database, an exercise diary, weight charts and journals, and a vast collection of healthy recipes to support your new lifestyle. This app also features image recognition of food, making it easier than ever to log and track calories, as well as a unique diet calendar to visualize when you eat and burn the most calories.
Remember that these apps can mainly help you maintain a numerical system for your new plans. When you start your new lifestyle, however, it is crucial that you reflect on the reasons that drove you to want to make the change. Through our nutrition education program, I can help you identify areas in your dietary lifestyle that need improvement so that you can achieve better health. Click here to schedule your free consultation.