With so many popular weight-loss diets out there promising weight loss -- from Weight Watchers to Atkins, Paleo to Keto, and Whole 30 to intermittent fasting -- it can be challenging to figure out which diet may be best for you.
You may not have to commit to a restrictive diet, however, to lose weight, when many nutrition experts agree that no matter what diet you're on, you can lose weight if you simply burn more calories than you consume. A slew of diet apps or weight-loss apps can help you with calorie counting, so you can stay on top of your calorie intake and learn where and when you're falling short of your nutrition goals. Food tracking apps can make you more accountable for your food choices and encourage you to make better ones in time.
The best food trackers include not only a calorie tracker (also known as a calorie counter or calorie calculator) that is easy to add to on the go but also a food journal, which can provide deeper insight into poor eating habits, especially those that come from emotional eating, and a built-in community forum to encourage you to stay on the right track.
Note: Most food tracking apps require you to sign up for an account with an email address and password. Since your total calorie allowance is based on your gender, birth date, height, weight, goal weight, and level of activity, be prepared to divulge plenty of personal information when getting started. We recommend that you opt-in for reminders to prompt you to track your meals and snacks.
To add an entry in Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal, simply tap Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, or Snacks and then search for the food in the app's 6-million-plus food database or scan the barcode on the food's packaging and the app will search its 4-million-plus barcodes on file. Select it and then adjust the portion size and the number of servings. You can easily tap the Edit button on the top left to copy frequently eaten foods or save frequently eaten meals. Under Nutrition, you can track calories, nutrients, and macros throughout the day. If it's too overwhelming to go it alone, add friends for moral support.
Lose It! lets you track meals via search, scan, or the snapping of a photo. You'll then see a graph with a breakdown of how many calories to eat per meal for the rest of the day.
Unlike competing apps, SparkPeople provides a total daily calorie range, as opposed to one set target number. Add foods via search, barcode scan, or even recipes by connecting to the SparkRecipes app. Put in your favorite foods, and Spark can even plan a healthy meal for you. For that extra push, you can check out daily coaching tips, read expert articles, and scroll the community feed for inspirational member posts.
Cronometer is the only app we came across that takes pregnancy or breastfeeding into consideration when calculating your daily calories total. You can start adding food by searching the database, which supports paleo, keto, and vegan diets, or scanning a barcode. You may also add your own foods and create recipes to save for easy future tracking. Aside from calories, you'll also get a protein, carbs, and fat breakdown. Tap Trends to view your dietary habits over time.
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Begin tracking meals by searching for foods, scanning them, making a quick pick by category, or choosing menu items from popular restaurants and brands. You can also take a photo of your snack or meal for quicker calorie tracking. The handy built-in food journal is a great resource for noticing unhealthy patterns, such as overeating the day after a night of drinking.
My Diet Coach differentiates itself by enabling you to set a more personal goal aside from the number of pounds you wish to use, such as to "feel good about myself," "look great," or "live longer." The app will remind you of your goal each day. Add food via search or scan, and you can easily create and save regular meals for one-click adding the next time. You can also set reminders to look at motivational photos, drink water, view your customized daily quotes, and much more.
True to its title, See How You Eat encourages you to eat more healthfully by asking you to photograph each of your meals and snacks, so you can literally see how you eat. The meal reminders to ensure you eat frequently enough, so you're not starving, and the daily inspirational quotes to keep you on track round out the app's offerings.
Tap a meal from the home screen and then the plus sign to begin adding food items. You can search the app's 700,000+ food database, scan a barcode, or add from favorites you've saved. The quick calorie button on the bottom rail saves you time by enabling you to add calories directly if you know them offhand. Aside from calories, you can also track up to 45 other nutrients. Do this and you'll end up with a detailed weekly analysis, which includes your saturated and trans fats, sodium, protein, carbs, and fiber intake. Add friends for encouragement or get support from the app's built-in community forums.
You are what you eat -- and drink. And water, unlike caffeinated sodas and alcohol, is purifying, hydrating, and filling -- without adding calories. So if you're thinking thin, don't forget to get your eight glasses of water in -- that's 64 ounces. Choose your preferred measurement unit (milliliters or ounces) when you first sign up, and then every time you drink water, just slide the glass of water icon up the built-in measuring bar till you hit 64oz. Each time this happens, you'll see the accompanying human figure drawing fill up with blue water, and confetti will drop from the screen in celebration. Click on the graphs icon to get 7-day and 30-day charts that track your progress. Enabling notifications at designated times to remind you to drink more water ensures your success.
And check out "Top Chef" contestant Marisa Churchill's tips for keeping your diet on track while traveling on Chowhound.
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