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Home / Tips and Tricks / The 5 best meal tracking apps for managing your diet and counting calories «Smartphones :: Gadgethacks

The 5 best meal tracking apps for managing your diet and counting calories «Smartphones :: Gadgethacks

Whether for health reasons or just to look better, many of us want to get in shape. It is a long process that starts with nutrition and dieting is never easy. Fortunately, there are some great food tracking apps that make it a lot easier to become a healthier version of yourself.

According to a study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings only 38% of Americans had a healthy diet (based on the Healthy Eating Index). With easy access to high-calorie food and little knowledge of nutrition, many Americans find it a challenge to avoid unhealthy options.

Food tracking apps alleviate these problems. By following your food intake on your iPhone or Android device every day, you get a clearer picture of your eating habits and where you might slip. It also helps your nutritionist to make the right plan for you because they can see exactly what you use every day. So they are certainly useful, but the question then becomes which food tracking app is best?

Table of contents

Comparison table

Key comparison points

How we selected these apps

First, we only considered apps that support both iOS and Android. We do not believe in unnecessarily isolating one community.

In addition, we have decided that every app on this list must have a free service option. Not everyone wants to spend money on an app or pay a monthly fee for something that they are not sure they want to commit. We specifically looked at free services with a premium option with a monthly or annual subscription.

We also required that each app can display detailed reports, including an overview of not only your calorie consumption, but also micro and macronutrients. When it comes to health, keeping track of daily micronutrient consumption is crucial, so the app must provide a way to check this (even if it doesn't allow you to set it as a goal). And because individuals have different mindsets when it comes to nutrition, we didn't want to prevent those who prioritize macronutrients from using our recommendations.

Finally, the apps should at least let you log food through text and through barcode scanning. Since UPC & # 39; s can help you find the exact items you are looking for, to add them to your calendar, we think this was necessary for the most accurate log.

App 1: Lose It!

A surprise for me, lose it! is at the top of our list. This food tracking app is currently in the top 20 of the most popular health and fitness apps in the Play Store and has everything you need. And although you need the premium version to access all features, it is the cheapest premium service on our list at $ 29.99 per year (excluding FatSecret, which has no premium layer).

As the name implies, Lose It! focuses on losing weight. This is not a problem for most. However, some people are not looking to lose weight, but prefer to arrive. Unfortunately, with the inability of this app to automatically provide calorie recommendations for those individuals, I would recommend looking elsewhere. Although you can adjust the maintenance recommendations that they offer, there are apps that automate the process.

Lack of support for those who want bulk have been disappointing since Lose It! offers the highest maximum for individual meals. Lose It! allows you to take seven different meals and label them as snacks. This feature is useful for bulking because it is easier to eat six smaller meals than three large meals.

With multiple options, no app makes it easier to log in than Lose It! In addition to scanning a barcode and searching through text, Lose It! offers the possibility to take a photo. Known as Snap It, you can take a picture of your meal and the app will guess exactly what you are eating. It retrieves several matching items from the database where you can select the closest item. It is more gimmicky than useful, but it is a welcome addition.

In addition to calories, you can set a number of different goals to keep track of every day. For example, you can track specific micronutrients, your body fat and even body measurements. You can even set a water intake goal to remind you to drink enough water for the day. However, this requires the premium service.

Lose it! also offers a DNA kit. For $ 69.99 you can have embodyDNA analyze your DNA for clues about nutrition and fitness. Early research suggests that genes can be used to determine certain traits about your diet and the ability to perform physical activity that can hinder or drive your progress.

To motivate yourself, lose it! has a point system. There are challenges in which you can participate, in which you award points for performing a certain task. These include daily submissions, doing a certain amount of exercises, and more. At the end of the challenge you face all participants and you win the pride and glory of the person below you. It is a nice system that is not attractive for those who are not competitive.

Lose it! is the best option for anyone who wants to lose some pounds. It not only has an extensive list of features, but it has the cheapest premium version for $ 29.99 a year. It offers the most ways to register new food imports with Snap It and lets you track your water consumption. Except for those who want bulk, there really is no better option than Lose It!

App 2: FatSecret

FatSecret has a significant advantage over all other apps on our list: it is completely free. There is no premium version or in-app purchases. But due to the lack of subscription costs, there are fewer functions and less integration with third parties.

One of the more unique features of FatSecret is FatSecret Professional. This feature allows you to connect your dietician, trainer, doctor or healthcare provider to the app to quickly share your information with them. Instead of taking your phone with you, your medical professional can be notified of your progress as soon as this happens.

Unlike any other app on our list, adjusting macronutrients per gram does not require a premium version. Both adjustment methods (per percentage and per gram) are available for free.

Exporting your data Going to a spreadsheet is also free, unlike the competition. And, unlike Lose It !, you can export this data with the app itself.

Although FatSecret supports third-party fitness apps, it is limited to Fitbit, Google Fit, Apple Health and Samsung Health only.

One problem I encountered is food logging. Unlike the previous two apps, there were a number of nutrition items that I had to add to the database that had already been added to Lose It! and MyFitnessPal. But on the other hand, FatSecret is the only other app that supports taking photos of food to identify what you eat (although it is pretty inaccurate).

There is nothing wrong with FatSecret, it's more what it lacks. If you decide to make this your favorite app, do not expect to import training data from fitness equipment and blood pressure monitors. Don't expect to connect your Twitter account to tweet your progress (although Facebook is supported). Instead, you get a completely free app for tracking food that does exactly that well.

App 3: MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is the most popular app on our list. It currently has the highest ranking of all apps on our list in both the App Store and Play Store for Health and Fitness apps. Thanks to the purchase by Under Armor, it has easy integration with third parties, so it can synchronize data with everything from Fitbits to heart rate monitors. The biggest drawback is the premium version, the most expensive on our list, and somewhat necessary.

MyFitnessPal makes it easy to add new entries to your nutrition diary. You can search manually (via text) or you can scan the barcode of the article to get the nutrition facts, which is also the best way to find exactly what you are using. With MyFitnessPal you can even import online recipes to add to your agenda. This way, if you saw something interesting online to prepare, you don't have to add every ingredient manually.

However, we do not always eat at home. According to MyFitnessPal, slightly less than half of its users eat out at least once a week. That's why MyFitnessPal has worked with more than 500,000 restaurants across the country to get calorie and nutritional information for items on their menu. As a result, you can even stay on course with your diet.

Like many others apps for food tracking, with MyFitnessPal you can register the calories you burn through exercises. Weight loss occurs when you enter a calorie deficit (and gain occurs when you enter a surplus), where exercise helps with the first. Many of us follow our physical activities with activity trackers and smartwatches, which MyFitnessPal supports. More than 21 different brands of third-party fitness trackers are supported by MyFitnessPal, much more than any other app on our list.

The biggest problem with MyFitnessPal is the payment wall. From $ 49.99 a year, MyFitnessPal is $ 20 more than Lose It! and $ 50 more than FatSecret (which is free). However, unlike the other two apps, many of the same functions require the premium version. The included functions are comparable, which makes the large price differences so alarming.

App 4: Cronometer

What distinguishes Cronometer is its ability to track nutrients. Without paying anything, you can follow a specific aspect of your diet to get more or less of a certain nutrient, amino acid, and so on. Although it limits some standard features to its premium service, it is still a great app to use even if you use the free version.

Cronometer is one of the best apps on our list for following specific components of your diet. While only two others on our list set goals for different micronutrients and fats, Cronometer continues. Without paying a cent, you can follow specific types of fats, such as polyunsaturated fats or saturated fats. But keeping up doesn't stop there. You can go one step further and check specific polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 and omega-6. Protein can also be traced to individual amino acids. You can follow 19 of the 20 amino acids that make up every gram of protein (with the exception of glutamine). Other traceable information includes net carbohydrates, fiber, sugar alcohol, maltose, lactose, glucose, water, caffeine, alcohol, ash, and more.

App 5: Yazio

Yazio has an attractive design with different colors and high-resolution photos. Details such as micronutrients are tucked away, making such data easily accessible without deterring new users. One of the least intimidating apps on our list, but ultimately falls short due to the limited free version.

Nothing is worse than starting a diet and having no healthy food to eat. Fortunately, Yazio helps you with this by having your shopping lists made. Using recipes, meal plans and your own food that you have previously added, you can create a shopping list for your next trip to the supermarket. However, it requires the pro version and only works on Android.

Analysis of your diet is limited in the free version to just day by day. To analyze your food diary from week to week or from month to month, you also need the pro version. Exporting data to a spreadsheet is also placed behind the payment wall. Recipes are also available in the pro version for ideas for healthy cooking.

Adding exercises is fairly easy with an extensive database for various aerobic exercises, including sports. As with the other apps on our list, however, adding an exercise is limited to expensive without accommodation for different training styles such as HIIT (high-intensity interval training). It is also pretty inaccurate and displays calories that have mainly been burned from the point of view of someone who works at a very low intensity.

There are simple challenges for things such as no chocolate, no sugar and no candy. If you select one of these options, a timer is started that continues until you stop it. The idea is that if you have a desire but see how much time has passed on the counter, you don't like to press the button labeled "I give up!"

Water is traceable free of charge but is strangely limited. You cannot set a goal higher than 170 fl oz or 1,328 gallons. For those of us who want to drink more, you cannot follow it. Water memories are also no more configurable than enabling them (or not). There is currently no way to set reminders during the day to help you reach your goal.

Although the design choices are friendly and welcoming, Yazio & # 39; s inability to distinguish itself from its competitors with comparable premium choices ultimately brings it into its current position. Although it is a good choice, there are better options.


Keeping track of your daily food intake is the first step to a healthy diet. By recording what you eat every day, you get a detailed picture of your diet and you mark the changes that you can make. When you use one of the apps on our list, you can not only follow your food, but much more.

Lose It! is our top choice. It not only offers the same abundance of features as MyFitnessPal, but its premium version is $ 20 cheaper. The meal and training schedules help you separate it from the more popular choice and help you during your journey. For those looking for weight, MyFitnessPal is a better option because of losing. It is unable to automate calorie requirements.

This article was produced during Gadget Hacks annual special Health & Fitness coverage. Read all Health & Fitness series.

Don't miss out: More ways to use your smartphone to get healthy and fit

Cover image and screenshots of Jon Knight / Gadget Hacks

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