We know that eating healthy, nutritious foods can help us lose weight, along with being more physically active — but did you know the simple act of tracking what you're eating is linked to greater weight-loss success, too? It's true: Research shows that those who track their calories are significantly more successful at losing weight (and keeping it off) than those who do not.
1. MyPlate Calorie Counter by LIVESTRONG.COM
We couldn't resist including our own calorie-tracking tool, since it has helped users lose millions of pounds! #humblebrag. But we're not the only ones who think so; MyPlate won a Webby's People's Voice award in 2018 for Best Visual Design for Function Mobile Sites and Apps. So what makes MyPlate so great?
For starters, the "cleaned up" database includes more than 2 million foods, making it that much easier to find what you're looking for. And with customer reviews like, "I lost 75 pounds but regained my life," what are you waiting for? Download now! Other features we love:
- Dietitian-Approved Meal Plans: Stick to an 8-week meal plan consisting of balanced macronutrients. Choose from one of four dietary preferences: omnivore, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.
- IIFYM: MyPlate has macro trackers to help you not only meet your calorie goals but attain a proper balance of macronutrients, too. "If It Fits Your Macros" gives you a daily snapshot of protein, carbs, and fat grams and allows you to easily monitor your intake and manage your desired ratio.
- Supportive Community: Become part of the awesome, 24-7 online community to help you reach your similar goals. You'll get real-time support and advice, plus a place to share recipes and tips.
- Workout Ideas: Want to stay fit? Use our list of workouts to exercise at home or anywhere. At the end of each workout, save the number of calories burned to your diary.
- Meal Reminders: Set meal reminders to keep you on track. As research shows, planning and tracking your meals helps you lose even more weight.
- Barcode Scanner: The easy barcode scanner helps you track store-bought foods more easily.
- Water Tracker: This is an easy way to help keep track of your water intake each day (so important!).
2. Argus Calorie Counter & Step
It's hard to not to argue Argus as one of the best calorie counters out there. The Argus Calorie Counter & Step does all the basics — from tracking calorie intake and health charts to giving analysis based on inputs — but it also exceeds the norm. Case in point: How about monitoring your heart rate with the tip of your finger and your phone's camera, or using the 24/7 pedometer to measure your steps and caloric output? The app also has a unique display made up of honeycomb-shaped tiles that bring your most pertinent data (coffee and water intake, calories consumed and burned, steps taken, etc.) to the forefront. Other features we love:
- Sleep Tracker: Track your sleep habits and use the company's proprietary algorithm to wake you up at your lightest stage of sleep — or in other words, make your morning wake-up call a little easier.
- Multi-Activity GPS: Track your running and cycling routes and even climbing, plus more. Note: Running the GPS in the background does wear down the battery time more quickly.
- Workouts: The app provides custom workouts to do in your own home. Upper body workouts come with the free app, and the premium service includes full access to all workouts.
- Barcode Scanner: Not a novel feature, but it definitely adds ease in tracking your calories of packaged foods.
- Community and Challenges: Invite your healthy and fit-to-be friends and family to join you on various challenges. Meditation challenge, anyone?
Don't take our word on how great Noom is — there's published research to back us up. The British Medical Journal found that 64 percent of Noom users lost more than five percent of their body weight, and Scientific Reports found that 78 percent of Noom users sustained their weight loss over nine months. So why does it work? The tracking portion of the app is fairly streamlined; functions include tracking your meals, exercise, blood pressure, and blood sugars. However, Noom also offers courses — for an additional fee — based on what your needs are. Other features we love:
- Built-in Cheerleader: Although the app is extremely streamlined, the free version includes daily inspirational quotes to keep you motivated.
- Personalization and Hands-on Support: With the paid version, you'll also receive a personalized health plan from a dedicated coach as well as 24/7 support and motivation.
- Novice-Friendly: The free app is very straightforward, making it a great option for those who may be new to tracking their meals, exercise, and weight loss.
- Helpful, Timely Information: Although it's not available through the app, the Noom website features a blog with new content published almost daily. Features — like one on how to get motivated for a morning workout — help keep users motivated and in the know.
MyFitnessPal is one of the O.G. calorie tracking apps and it's still one of the most popular. Because of their early start and ongoing popularity, they have the "World's Largest Online Community," available to users 24/7. MyFitnessPal keeps their main offerings fairly streamlined: helpful articles, tracking, and progress. Other features we love:
- Share Your Diary: You have the capabilities to download and save your diary and therefore, the ability to share it with your trainer or nutritionist.
- Timestamp your Meals: Most apps include breakfast, snack, lunch… and so on but with the premium subscription, you can timestamp your meals to ensure you're eating to meet your goals whether it's to eat every three hours or if you do intermittent fasting and have a feeding window.
- Different Goals by Day: Calling all intermittent fasters. With the upgraded version, you can set different goals for each day so if you do intermittent fasting or perhaps you try to eat more on leg day, you can plan for that with this feature.
Lifesum's design is one-of-a-kind and the intuitive and streamlined layout makes it effortless for the user. One of Lifesum's unique features is the recommended calorie ranges for each meal and snack. They act as a guide to help you navigate through the day from breakfast to dinner. Another helpful feature, available with the premium subscription, is the deep dive Lifesum offers, allowing the user to dig further into the nutrient composition of each individual food, e.g. the types of fat, the breakdown between fiber and sugar, etc. Other features we love:
- Track by Photo: One of Lifesum's newest features is the ability to snap a picture of your food and an output of the nutritional information.
- Life Score: Each week you're given a score on your health based on your nutrition and exercise habits throughout the week.
- Jump Start Program: The app offers a 3-week weight loss program to launch you on your way to your weight loss goals.
- Specialized Diet Plans: There are 12 diet plans available — keto, clean eating, etc.
- Healthy Recipes: There are more than 1,000 recipes already built in making them easy to try and easy to track.
6. Lose It
Lose It offers a unique dashboard with a view of the entire week, which helps you see the bigger picture and the importance of consistency. The free option is pretty straightforward with the ability to track meals, water, exercise, and weight, and it also breaks down meals by macros. Lose It also helps guide you on your way with suggested calorie intakes per meal. Other features we love:
- Track by Photo: Similar to Lifesum, one of Lose It's newest (premium) features (still in BETA) is the ability to snap a picture of your food and an output of the nutritional information.
- Holistic Goal Setting: Lose It looks beyond just weight loss goals, with the ability to set health, sleep, measurement, exercise, hydration, and body fat goals.
- Weekly Reports: With the upgraded version, the user has the ability to schedule when they'd like to receive their weekly report on their intake and progress.
- Search by Brands and Restaurant Foods: If you're not big on making your meals or eating at home, the Lose It app has a feature to search for foods by their brands or restaurant name. Additionally, Lose It features the barcode scanner making it even easier with packaged foods.
- J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Sep;112(9):1428-1435. Epub 2012 Jul 13. Self-monitoring and eating-related behaviors are associated with 12-month weight loss in postmenopausal overweight-to-obese women. Kong A, Beresford SAA, Alfano CM, Foster-Schubert KE, Neuhouser ML, Johnson DB, Duggan C, Wang CY, Xiao L, Jeffery RW, Bain CE, McTiernan A.
- Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2006 Jul 19;3:17. Dietary and physical activity behaviors among adults successful at weight loss maintenance. Kruger J1, Blanck HM, Gillespie C.