shutterstock566903308.jpg
(Credit: Ivanko80)

There are dozens of weight loss-focused platforms dotted throughout the App Store, with most offering some combination of calorie counting, meal logging and workout tracking. But FitNow's app Lose It has been able to rise to the top of the scrum, helping over 35 million members lose more than 75 million pounds since it was released to Apple's App Store in 2008, the company claims. It is now one of the highest rated weight loss apps in the app stores, with an average 4.7 out of 5 rating on the iOS side.

The Lose It app (download for Android and iOS) allows users to set weight goals, track food intake and join online weight loss communities that can provide help as you progress along your weight loss journey. LoseIt can connect to a bunch of different weight loss devices and brands including Jawbone, Fitbit and RunKeeper.

"At the core of Lose It! are easy-to-use, convenient calorie and fitness tracking tools, as healthy diets and regular exercise are proven weight loss approaches. But weight loss is not a one size fits all program, and that's why Lose It! works: Because Lose It! makes weight loss personal," the company writes on its website.

"Lose It! turns the billions of data points inputted from members into life-changing, personal insights to make it easier for them to see the connections between eating habits, exercise, and meaningful weight loss."

Meal-tracking made easy

One of the best parts of Lose It is the meal tracker, which the app's designers have worked hard to improve over the years to keep up with their competitors. Users can track the calories they intake each day in a handful of ways: by searching through the app's database of 7 million foods, restaurant items and brands from around the world; by scanning the barcode of any food item; or by taking a photo of a food item and having the app identify it and its nutritional information.

Some critics used to gripe about which restaurants and foods could be found in the app's database, but in recent years the app developer has done a good job filling in gaps and making sure to cover almost all of its bases when it comes to documenting all the food you ingest on a daily basis.

The app makes it quick and easy to input all the food you eat on any day, saving you time and effort in your quest to watch what you eat and lose weight.

Along with sync with fitness devices, you can enter the various ways you burn calories -- such as walking -- and the app will estimate how you are doing with your calorie intake for the day.

lose-it.png
(Credit: Lose It)

Premium version vs. free version

One of the great debates within the reviews of Lose It are whether it is worthwhile to purchase the premium version -- which runs at a variety of price points hovering around $40 yearly -- or stick with the free version.

With the premium version, users get access to a bevy of significant additional features, including meal planning, in-depth nutrition reports based on what you eat, better synchronization with more apps and devices, data analysis and the ability to set clear weight goals.

Many users of the app switched to premium after using the free version for a few months and having success with it. Even though they don't back it up with any hard data, Lose It says premium members lost three times as much weight loss as members who stuck with the free version.

Pros

  • Easy calorie counting. The app is better than most at making calorie tracking a supremely painless process, and their latest addition of photo recognition makes it even easier.
  • Device/app synchronization. The app works with all of the top exercise apps and devices like Fitbit, Nike+ Run Club and others.
  • Weight-loss community. LoseIt lets you connect with other users, friends or family members to set up group challenges and receive the support you may need on your weight loss journey.

Cons

  • Accurate calorie counting. Lose It has worked hard to address this issue, but some users still report incorrect calorie counts for the food they input in their daily log. The app is not alone in this, as many other weight-loss apps have struggled to correctly identify calorie counts of a variety of foods.
  • App integration. While one of Lose It's upsides is the ability to sync the app with some exercise tools, other similar apps connect to even more devices and workout platforms. Apps like MyFitnessPal connect to Under Armour's suite of workout tools as well as hundreds of others.

Bottom line

Lose It is one of the best apps available for anyone looking to shed a few pounds for the new year. It's robust calorie counter makes food logs easy to do on a daily basis, and the opportunity to connect with others looking to lose weight adds a social element to a task that is difficult for many. Millions have used the app to lose weight and say it was integral to their weight loss success.

Apps

Competitive products

  • MyFitnessPal. This app is within the Under Armour suite of fitness tools so it connects to more devices than Lose It.
  • Mealime. Mealime provides a similar but somewhat different experience than Lose It. The app gives users set meals they can use to lose weight based on information you put in.
  • DietWiz. This app does many of the same things but is a bit inflexible in allowing you to change your goal weight.

FOLLOW Download.com on Twitter for all the latest app news.

Read more

Jonathan is a Contributing Writer for CNET's Download.com. He's a freelance journalist based in New York City. He recently returned to the United States after reporting from South Africa, Jordan, and Cambodia since 2013.