Calorie counting is a necessary part of a diet, but it doesn't have to be a chore. Calorie-counting apps make keeping track of your daily meals and exercise simple, and they have tons of useful features that make healthier fun.
Things to Look For in Calorie Counting Apps
While each of these apps has a unique approach to calorie tracking, they all share a common goal: to make it easier for you to keep up to date with your diet. Here are the main features you should look for in calorie counting apps:
- Easy Accurate Logging: Since you will be using the app multiple times a day, logging should be easy. The best calorie counting apps allow you to quickly log meals and snacks from the app home page, and they support barcode scanning or even have image recognition for common foods. Many of them can also track nutrients, macros, adjust for exercise and set your fitness goals.
- Reliable Memories: Eventually logging calories becomes a habit, but until then it is important to have regular memories so you can log consistently. Some apps even allow you to customize your reminders.
- Community Support: Anyone who has tried a diet can tell you how hard it is to stick to it, let alone exercise every day and stay below your recommended daily caloric intake. But having a supportive community behind you makes you feel less alone and more likely to follow and practice regularly, and that's what these apps are all about. These communities are a great place to share your wins and they make it easy to find friends to chat with.
- Useful extras: Many apps have tools other than calorie tracking that often go unnoticed. Features like exercise guides, weight loss challenges, recipes, diet plans and even meal planning can make all the difference on your journey to get fit. Bonus points for apps that remind you to drink water.
Best calorie counting app overall: MyFitnessPal
MyFitnessPal (Free, with in-app purchases) isn't just a calorie counter — It's a solid all-round fitness app. From keeping track of what you eat and how much you exercise every day to helping you set goals, it's generally the best choice if you're serious about getting healthy. MyFitnessPal has the largest food database available – over 11 million foods – plus it recognizes over four million barcodes and thousands of meals from popular restaurants, so you never have to estimate your meals. The app also tracks macros and various nutrients, which is great if you need to keep a close eye on what you are eating.
If you have a goal to lose, gain or maintain weight, MyFitnessPal makes it easy to set it up or create one from scratch. Another notable feature of the app is its huge compatibility with other workout apps and devices, such as Fitbit, Strava, Runtastic, MapMyFitness, Jawbone, Garmin and more. You can share your fitness achievements in the app and find friends for extra support and accountability. By charting your progress with text or photo updates on MyFitnessPal, you can stay motivated and even inspire others.
Editor's Note: I can't say enough good things about MyFitnessPal. I used it (along with exercise) to lose a lot of weight and donate a kidney to my son. It is a literal change in life.
The best for weight loss: lose it!
If your main reason for counting calories is to lose weight, lose it! (Free, with in-app purchases) is the app for you. When you first set up your profile, enter information such as your height and weight, then add your target weight and how aggressively you want to work toward that goal. This way the app calculates your calorie intake, which automatically adjusts when you lose weight. Logging food, exercise and water consumption with the app is super easy: just scan a barcode, take photos of your food or enter items manually. The app can track macros and nutrients, which is essential if you're on a specialized diet.
While you keep logging every day, the app's algorithm can recognize patterns (especially those that are problematic, such as snacking before bed) and send you a report directly to your inbox so you can identify issues that may allow progress hinder. The app also has fun community challenges to join, where you can update your progress and compete against other Lose It members. It also offers meal planning, recipes, and exercise guides, making it a well-rounded app focused on watching what you eat and lose weight.
Best for Community Support: SparkPeople
Losing motivation is normal for anyone trying to lose weight and get fit, but the community at SparkPeople (free) is a place where you can find a lot of support. You can talk to other people through the app's forums or get encouragement and advice from SparkPeople's network of fitness and health professionals. There are also several health and fitness challenges that you can participate in, as well as community scoreboards, bulletin boards, and blog posts that you can look through and get inspired by.
Of course SparkPeople also helps you to track food intake and count calories from the robust food database. You can enter meals and snacks manually or scan a barcode. The app can also help you plan upcoming meals, and it provides you with an exercise diary so you can track your activities and goals. Sometimes you just need emotional support and friends to keep you company to stay motivated, and SparkPeople is great for this.