For many of us, losing weight and getting in shape is difficult. You might be disciplined and determined and still struggle.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available to help. Smartphones and apps make it easy to keep track of what you eat when you work out, and other healthy habits.
Of course, sorting through the plethora of apps in the Apple Store or Google Store takes time. That’s why we’ve done the work for you. We’ll give you some of our favorites – but let’s start with some information about why it’s a good idea to use apps on your weight loss and fitness journey.
Weight loss and fitness apps are popular – but are they useful? It turns out that there is plenty of research to support the idea that using an app to track your progress is a helpful thing to do.
For example, we found this study, which concluded that the participants with the highest level of participation in an online food diary (food tracking system) lost more weight than those with a lower level of involvement.
We found a later study that confirmed those results. The researchers specifically noted that people who successfully lost weight and maintained it was far more likely to have used tracking tools than those who lost weight and then regained it.
There’s not as much research into fitness trackers but there is some. For example, we found one study that concluded that fitness trackers were useful. However, they were more useful when people were incentivized to use them with a cash bonus.
A later study found similar results. It said that glamifying fitness by providing regular incentives could encourage people to exercise regularly. It can also encourage them to track key health statistics – things like blood pressure – with an eye toward improving their overall health.
What does this tell us? Simply stated, using weight loss and fitness apps may help you stay on track with a healthy lifestyle. It may be especially helpful if you choose an app with built-in incentives – or add incentives on your own. For example, you might buy yourself a small gift (say, a new color of nail polish or a new book) when you reach milestones that are important to you.
Let’s start with weight loss apps. Which ones work the best – and what are the differences between them? It turns out there are many to choose from. A quick glance at the Google Store shows hundreds of options.
Some weight loss apps focus on tracking food. Others provide healthy recipes or help people adhere to a specific diet, such as Keto or Paleo.
Here are some of the highest-rated and most effective apps for you to try.
Lose It is a popular weight loss app that deserves its reputation. Its primary focus is tracking food intake and calories.
To use it, you’ll enter your current weight and goal weight. The app asks how much you want to lose but caps the weight loss at a healthy two pounds per week. You’ll then get a target daily calorie goal that will update automatically when you log your weight.
With the free version, you’ll get access to the app’s huge food database. You can search by keywords or scan the barcode of your food. The nutritional information is confirmed by experts, so you can be sure you’re getting accurate information.
We also like their “Snap it” feature which allows you to track food and portion sizes by taking a photo of your meal. Lose It has both free and premium versions. The biggest downside of Lose It is that it tracks only macronutrients. If you want more nutritional information, you should choose an app that will provide it.
This is the one I personally use and prefer. MyFitnessPal has been around for quite a while and is one of the more complete Calorie Counting and Diet Tracker Apps.
One of the reasons I prefer this app compared to the others is that it has one of the largest databases of food items. I’ve found food items and listings here when none of the other trackers had them.
The app also allows me to break everything down by Marco which is helpful since I do Keto. And the ability to use a barcode scanner, add food items and more makes this highly worth checking out. You can track your weight, set goals and much more.
Like Lose It, SparkPeople is a food tracking app with a huge database of more than 5 million foods. You can search for foods by keyword or scan the barcode.
What we like about SparkPeople is that there’s a strong community aspect to it, as well. You can post questions and get responses or even talk directly with a weight loss coach.
This app also provides daily weight loss tips and links to relevant articles, making it a terrific source of information about healthy eating and weight loss.
There are both free and premium options available.
Healthify Me is an app with some cool features. It has similar food tracking features to the apps we’ve already mentioned, with a sizable database of foods and the ability to scan barcodes.
What sets it apart is that Healthify Me will send you reminders to drink more water and exercise. If you’re the type of person who needs a nudge to stay on track, then this app might be a good choice for you.
If you’re following a set diet such as Keto, you can choose that health plan and then use Healthify Me to track your food and make sure you’re hitting your macros.
Finally, Healthify Me uses some gamification by including leader boards and challenges to help people achieve their weight loss goals.
Fooducate isn’t a weight loss app per se, but we’re including it because it offers a feature that we think is hugely important if you’re trying to lose weight.
You can use Fooducate to scan food labels while you’re grocery shopping and get valuable information about whether it’s a healthy choice for you. It assigns a grade from A to D and will make suggestions of alternative foods that are healthy.
Fooducate also helps you track the effect food has on your hunger levels – something that’s useful if you want to aim for a more intuitive style of eating.
Weight loss and fitness go hand in hand. While most of the apps we’ve listed already have some fitness tracking capabilities (you can log your workout in Lose It, for example), you might want something a bit more comprehensive for tracking your workouts. Here are our picks.
This app was a huge surprise to me. I was just checking out the Appstore and thought the app looked interested so I decided to look it over. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This app is incredible and may be the best fitness app out right now. It was featured in Forbes, Cafe Mom. You can use it on your laptop, tablet, phone or TV. It features tons of free workouts for almost anything you’re interested in. Fat loss, booty, arms, legs, HIIT and so much more. All of the videos are high quality and feature very knowledgeable instructors walking you through each exercise and workout. Their app even connects with an Apple Watch so you can see right on-screen how many calories burned and heart rate. Highly recommended!
Map My Fitness offers a combination of detailed fitness tracking and community support. It offers support for hundreds of fitness activities, providing detailed information on calories burned. You can get fitness advice from community members and connect with a personal coach for a fee.
Map My Fitness syncs with many calorie-tracking apps and is a useful tool if you need help reaching your fitness goals. It allows you to set achievable goals and track your progress via a series of reports and charts.
Freeletics is an app we recommend if you can’t afford a gym membership and want access to daily workouts you can do at home. You won’t need any gym equipment because Freeletics focuses on using body weight as resistance.
The workouts range from 10 to 30 minutes long. You’ll get both audio and video guidance, so you can be sure you’re doing the exercises properly.
There’s a free version of the app available. If you upgrade to the premium versions, you’ll get a personalized weekly training plan, feedback on your workouts, and other perks.
Aaptiv is a fitness app that’s become popular because it offers some fitness personalization combined with achievable and enjoyable workouts that are a step above the usual.
You’ll start by taking a brief fitness quiz. Providing basic information helps the app’s algorithm provide workouts that are appropriate for your age and fitness levels.
Aaptiv then creates workouts for you by pairing instruction from their team of experienced trainers with music you choose. It’s a free app but there are in-app purchases available if you want to add additional features.
Daily Burn is one of the most versatile and useful fitness apps out there. Our favorite thing about it is that you can choose from more than 1,000 workouts, including everything from Yoga to HIIT.
The idea behind Daily Burn is that it’s a personal trainer in app form. You’ll get everything you need from professional instructors who are there to help and make sure you get the best possible results from your workout. It syncs with Apple TV or Roku so you can stream the workouts to your television.
This is a free app, but you may need to pay for your workouts in-app.
Using apps to track your food intake, weight loss, and exercise is a good way to stay on track and motivate yourself. The apps we’ve listed here are our favorites, but there are many others to explore. Find the one that works for you – and then stick with it to achieve your fitness and weight loss goals. The key to getting the most out of any of these apps is to make sure you use them. Develop a habit of inputting your data every day. It doesn’t take long, but the benefits of developing this habit are huge.