Whether you are getting back on the New Year’s weight loss wagon for the fifth time or you are gearing up for beach season, there are plenty of gyms and exercise DVDs to firm you up. Exercise is only half of the equation, however. Tracking your calorie intake has been proven to advance weight loss and there are a number of reasons why this works.
Below are the 10 best food tracking apps to get you slimmed down. They range in simplicity of entering each food item to apps that also record fitness goals, exercise, sleep, and heart rates. All but one are available on both Android and iOS platforms and all are free to download.
Touted as the number one app in a 2013 study by American Journal of Preventive Medicine, MyNetDiary still remains a solid and highly touted choice by its users. The basic app is free but offers a Pro version for a fee and subscription services to advanced features. In addition to food, it can track over four dozen nutrients, body measurements, test results, and daily steps. It also offers a web interface, bar code scanning, and syncs with a number of popular fitness trackers such as Fitbit, Garmin, and Jawbone UP.
Favorite feature: Ability to set up custom trackers
MyFitnessPal is likely one of the most well known apps, having been around over fifteen years. It 2015, it had over 80 million users when it was acquired by Under Armour and has always been a front runner in the top food tracking apps. It is a free, cross-platform app with integrations to over forty other related applications such as popular fitness trackers, scales, health monitors, and intgrates with a number of third party apps. It boasts over 5 million items in its food database. It also is one of our 10 best apps for Apple Watch.
Favorite feature: Allows the import of recipes
For those who like looking at food more than looking it up, the Lose It! app may be the best choice. The app offers a free version for the tracking. Upgrading to the premium version for an annual subscription fee adds in features like fitness tracker integration, body fat tracking, logging of upcoming meals, community challenges, and creating private groups.
Favorite feature: Allows photo uploads – the app will log food from a snapshot
MyPlate Calorie Tracker
MyPlate Calorie Tracker is the offering put together by the well known LiveStrong. It tracks daily calorie goals, offers a bar code scanner, and an integrated community forum. It has more than 11,000 positive reviews on Google Play and offers daily nutrition charts, goal setting, motivational tips and meal plans.
Favorite feature: Also easily tracks daily water intake
SparkPeople Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker
SparkPeople Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker has been around over sixteen years and is still going strong. It has all the common required features of a food tracking app with an extensive food database. One of its unique options is a point system for reaching goals. These SparkPoints can be redeemed for virtual rewards / trophies. SparkPeople also has an extensive support forum with very specialized groups (gastric bypass patients, diabetics, sports and movie fans to name a few). It offers subscription services for advanced and live features.
Favorite feature – Online Community Goal Feed that is Facebook-esque
Argus is one of the newer offerings having arrived on the marketplace in just the last few years. It even has Nick Jonas promoting its usefulness. It does more than just food tracking as it includes heart rate and activity monitoring all from the phone – no additional fitness trackers needed. Subscription services remove ads and includes features such as sleep tracking, heart rate analysis, audio coaching, and custom workout plans.
Favorite feature: Motion sensors remove the need to manually start tracking a run
Nutritionix Track is one of the simpler food tracking apps created by a team of registered dietitians. It is free and tracks weight and exercise with the food. It offers bar scanning and Fitbit integration. It’s most unique feature is voice commands allowing users to speak their foods into the app instead of looking them up with typing. This can greatly speed up the entry process. It also boasts entries in its database for over 670 U.S. restaurants.
Favorite feature: Allows voice command entry of food items
FatSecret Calorie Counter
FatSecret Calorie Counter is for those who want a straight-forward, totally free (no in app costs or subscriptions) food inventory app. Just like the more popular subscription apps, this one allows bar code scanning, photo uploads, weight tracking, and calories burned journal. It’s on both platforms. One of its unique features is that it integrates with FatSecret Professional so a doctor or nutritionist can track progress and provide consultation based on the information.
Favorite feature: Talks to to your preferred healthcare professional
(Having a hard time choosing which one is right for you? They are all free to download. Download as many as you like. Use our guide to find any app on your device if you get app overload.)
My Diet Coach
For those who prefer a more whimsical visual display, My Diet Coach offers a fun and motivating interface. Like many other apps, it lets you set goals, enter food either by typing or bar code scanning, and healthy reminders. This app is targeted to females, offering a customizable avatar that loses weight with its user and offers virtual fashion pieces as goal rewards.
Favorite feature: Play dress up with an avatar as goals are reached
Carrot Hunger Talking Calorie Counter
And finally, for the foodie who can handle abuse, Carrot Hunger Talking Calorie Counter is the way to go. Not only does the app record food intake with either a database look up or a bar code scan, but it will calcuate the exercise cost of each food eaten. An avatar grows in size if too many calories are consumed. The users who install an iBeacon sensor in their refrigerator will be subjected to loud alarms if they open the door after they are over their daily calorie allowance. Overeating will result in shaming social media tweets. Carrot is not for the faint of heart or for Android users.
Favorite feature: An avatar that shrinks and grows with weight changes
Whether you like being berated by a computer, encouraged by your peers, or fly solo with your goals, one of these top food tracking apps is available on your favorite platform. From the application with a simple entry diary format to one that fully integrates with your shoes, scale, and watch, there is a food tracking app suited to your lifestyle. With significant evidence proving that tracking food intake promotes weight loss, there has never been a better reason to download one of these great food tracking apps and start tracking today. (Once you get a hang of your new food app, try one of these sleep tracking apps for a better night’s sleep.)