The Must-Have Mobile Apps for Fitness, Diet, and Weight Loss
Keeping fit, losing weight, and sticking to a healthy diet are excellent ways to maintain good health. But the journey is not as straightforward as some people think. At least for me, it wasn’t. However, a while back, I discovered that I could significantly improve the progress of my weight loss journey with the help of my phone. All it took me was to download an app for my goals and use it to monitor my food intake and exercise without having to schedule gym time.
I do not disregard the importance of scheduling gym sessions at all. It is just not my thing.
I know there are many people out there struggling as I did at first. The challenge is even more significant because there are many apps that you can use so you end up not knowing which one to choose.
That is why I have reviewed the best apps to help you kick off your health and weight loss journey below.
The Methodology I used to Select these Apps
I have analyzed and reviewed the apps on my list using certain criteria. For one, the eight apps on this list are all accessible online for both iOS and Android.
I have also narrowed my focus to highlight apps that are user-friendly in terms of the provision of scanning options, access to recipes, ease of use, and functionality.
In addition, I have taken into account free or paid access/services. To fit into the list, even if an app is free to use, it must have enough tools to make it worthy of use.
Apart from that, if an app is paid for, I have highlighted what you will be getting out of it to gauge if you need an expensive or cheaper option.
Most importantly, the apps on this list will help improve your progress and most have forums for support and encouragement.
Key Points to Note: Most of the apps on this list work by allowing you to log calories. This can be a helpful tool to help you lose weight.
However, continuous food tracking has also been associated with promoting unhealthy eating behaviors like disordered tendencies and food obsessions.
Additionally, the approach of logging calories and tracking foods is not necessarily the best way for you to lose weight in a healthy manner.
If you want to lose weight, the best way to do it is to choose a method that works without negatively affecting your physical and mental health.
MyFitnessPal- The best app overall for calorie expenditure
Weight loss becomes more achievable if you can expend more calories than you take in and calorie expenditure is made possible by being active. You get all these advantages on My FitnessPal.
If you are looking to lose weight while at the same time becoming more active, this is the app for you. It allows you to ramp up an exercise routine while you eat healthily for the best results.
Because this app uses food logging, you can easily keep a food journal by creating your own food database.
The exercise program features hundreds of cardio and strength workouts which I appreciate because it is a well-rounded fitness approach.
The online community is also excellent for support, advice, and encouragement.
With MyFitnessPal, you get access to a massive food database and you can add entries to your food log by scanning product barcodes.
I am a fan of home-cooked meals but it is not many times that I can account for what I am eating. That is why I particularly find the recipe importer on MyFitnessPal to be very helpful. This feature allows you to get an accurate picture of your eating habits when you are at home. MyFitnessPal has a scanning feature for packaged foods but you can still search for a non-packaged item. You also get a well-detailed breakdown of everyday macronutrient intake which is an excellent way to help you stay on your weight loss track.
The “Diary” tab allows you to track your workouts freely and you can also add food and exercise notes below your daily entries.
To even track your steps better and monitor your routine, MyFitnessPal integrates Fitbit, MapMyRun, and Apple’s HealthKit.
You can access many features on My FitnessPal for free but you can also get an affordable premium membership payable monthly or annually.
- An affordable premium subscription compared to other apps
- A wide variety of well-rounded exercises
- Excellent free features including food and exercise tracking, nutritional insights, and water intake tracking.
- A recipe importer for at-home meals
- To get the entire features, you require a premium annual membership
- You may be encouraged to consume processed foods if you are not careful since they are easier to track than recipes
- Other users upload most foods which may give multiple entries and calorie count that may not be entirely accurate
Noom- Best app if you don’t want diet rules or food limitations
Noom is not just an app that looks at food intake. It distinguishes itself by analyzing your lifestyle to present to you effective methods to attain your weight loss goals.
The primary goal of Noom is to provide you with the tools necessary for helping you adjust gradually and sustain yourself over time.
On Noom, you are paired with a health and nutrition expert who gives you the advice you need after a workable plan has been curated for you. You are given a plan after factors like height, weight, age, and activity levels are analyzed.
I find Noom to be very thorough also because it also considers your medical history, cognitive therapy usage, and target and personal goals.
Noom suggests the foods you should eat and how you should eat them using a traffic lighting system. They are categorized as green, red, and yellow according to calorie content. The idea is for you to eat more green foods, some yellow foods, and limited red foods.
Green foods have fewer calories, red foods have the most calories, while yellow foods fall in between.
Noom also gives you a calorie budget that is adjustable manually. You can therefore set a weight loss speed by increasing or decreasing your calorie allocation. The app also suggests how much physical activity is best for you and how you can reinforce a healthy habit.
I feel like the approach used by the app is excellent particularly because you are not limited to eating specific foods.
You can eat any kind of food but you have to be disciplined enough to notice when your calorie intake shoots. This is a more balanced approach if you want to lose weight in a sustainable fashion.
One of the challenges I have had with my weight loss journey was the inability to make behavioral changes and that is how I kept going back to weight gain. But Noom was very useful and I was guided on how to incorporate behavioral change and I am now in a better place.
On Noom, you get features like a calorie tracker, food log, sugar levels/high blood pressure monitor, and an activity monitor.
You can get a free Noom version but if you want more features you must get the premium version.
- Noom gives guidelines and not rules for weight loss
- A wide variety of factors are analyzed for your plan to be curated
- The app is a bit expensive
- Not an ideal app for improving overall health. The focus is more on increasing weight loss
- Easy to cancel
Lose It- Best app for user-friendliness and free features
Lose It is a versatile app that uses smart technology to help you with food tracking. Compared to other apps, Lose It has a much simpler interface focused on calorie and weight tracking.
The approach used by Lose It is very interactive and has essential social aspects to help you connect with the Lose It community freely.
For a plan to be created for you, you answer various questions about your goals, age, and weight. From the information gathered, you also get a daily calorie intake recommendation.
On Lose It, you can add the foods you consume in a day by simply selecting from the app’s database. You can also do the same by scanning a product’s barcode.
What’s more, you can take a picture of your meal to gauge the number of calories using the app’s ‘Snap It’ feature.
After your plan is set up, you are ready to log foods available on the app’s food database. You also get food reports summarizing your eating habits on a weekly basis. If you are focused on tracking your weight, the app has a graph that displays the changes you undergo overtime.
Lose It has a useful water tracking feature which is very essential for helping you stay hydrated.
You can access games and challenges to help you with your weight loss journey. This is also an extra way to give you added motivation.
You can get extensive Lose It functionality for free or you can add an extra amount to unlock additional features like macronutrient goal setting, an activity tracker, and a meal planner access.
- A very intuitive app
- Excellent technology to estimate calories
- A wide variety of free features
- The app is sometimes buggy
- You must be highly specific regarding some foods
- The app doesn’t make food suggestions or give feedback on certain choices
Weight Watchers- Best app if you are looking for a community
Weight Watchers supplements the dietary plan it gives you by giving you the resources you need. The app emphasizes less on calories and more about you being aware of the kind of foods you eat.
The community on Weight Watchers is highly active to offer one another encouragement and advice.
The app has an extensive food database which is rated using a point system. It also allows you to plan your meals or you can choose from the five-day menus available.
Weight Watchers also has other features too like a barcode scanner for grocery products. thousands of healthy recipes, and it also allows you to get advice from diet coaches conveniently.
You can track different foods, your water intake, activity, and sleep on the app. With the search bar, you also get to look up particular foods after which you are given a recipe recommendation. You can also get a recommendation using the app’s “What’s in Your Fridge” feature.
The check-in card on the app is specifically designed to assist you to build healthy habits gradually but powerfully. This is also where you are guided on your journey. The card appears weekly and it also allows you to set goals for the upcoming week.
Weight Watchers has a reward system which is a way to motivate you to simply leading a healthy lifestyle. You can get tangible rewards like wireless earbuds and water bottles.
If you are a member, you can get access to the app or you can buy a digital-only membership where you can still access all features that come with the app. However, you can’t attend coaching sessions and workshops on the app if you are a digital-only user.
- Familiar diet plans
- An extensive food database and healthy recipes
- Sometimes the app is glitchy making food logging troubling
Nutrisystem- Best app if you have busy schedule
Nutrisystem is a one-month program with plans built around weight loss for adults. The program gives you a workable weight loss program by pre-portioning and supplying the foods you need for weight loss.
It is however not recommended if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or you have a health condition or peanut, soy, or latex allergies.
Because the program supplies pre-portioned meals, you don’t have to go through the trouble of trying to figure out the right portion size, which is very helpful if you are rather busy.
Again, the Nutrisystem program lessens your calorie intake through the pre-portioned meals which help you create a calorie deficit.
Nutrisystem works to help you lose weight by emphasizing that you consume high fiber and protein foods to help you avoid indulgence from being full.
You eat small portions per day to prevent hunger which is how you are helped to lose weight.
In the first week, you eat five times and for the remaining three weeks you eat six times daily but you can also go up to eight times- Flex meals.
Exercise is not needed for all the plans but the program encourages you to take on physical activity of up to 150 minutes in a week to help you lose weight. During the first week, you should only do minimal exercises if you must.
You can select different foods which are customized. With the “Chef’s choice” feature, you select the popular meals of the brand. You can still select individual meals and snacks yourself.
Meals- breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks are delivered after you have subscribed and they are fitted differently for your diet as per your specifications. The meals are fully cooked and are either shelf-stable or frozen. You are only required to reheat.
For additional support and resources, you use the NuMi app. The app features a food intake and goal tracker and you can still find expert advice, recipes, challenges, meals, and weight logs. It also records what you eat or drink while on the plan.
There are different plans that are designed to fit specific groups of people to lose weight according to gender, health conditions, and dietary needs. The plans are paid for. The Partner Plan is designed for two people on a journey together but there are also plans for more people.
The plans vary in terms of menu choices, prices, and the number of included meals.
- An easy ordering process after you pick a plan and menu
- An extensive menu with color-coded meals for differentiation
- Money-back guarantee and return if you are dissatisfied with your first order
- Expensive and restrictive
- You may find the portions to be too small
- You might still have to buy certain grocery items
- Some foods are made with genetically modified ingredients and additives
MyNetDiary- Best app to help you lose weight
The app stands out because it encourages you to log your weight details daily and it shows how much progress you have made in a week on the home page.
Most apps on this list help you track your weight and they offer guidance on how to achieve that but they don’t do it excellently like MyNetDiary. This app will help you to stay disciplined and accountable for your weight loss journey.
After you have provided basic information, you set a goal weight and give a target date. This is an excellent way to push yourself if you are greatly focused on weight loss. MyNetDiary is a good app if you are willing and comfortable to manage your food choices.
Some of the features on MyNetDiary include a food and exercise tracker, options for meal planning, a barcode scanner, an everyday analysis of your eating habits, graphical charts to help you map how you are progressing, and access to the app’s community.
You don’t even have to create an account to use these services and the data you provide stays anonymous.
While MyNetDiary has excellent free services which will be helpful if you are on a budget, there are also features that come with a premium subscription.
If you decide to pay for the premium version, you get access to additional features and useful upgrades too. These include a health-tracking system if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, Fitbit device compatibility, and personalized dietary advice from an expert.
These additional features will be handy if you need them but they are not necessary for you to take advantage of MyNetDiary’s full functionality.
- Has an excellent approach for weight loss
- A wide variety of free features
- Advanced tracking options are expensive
Fooducate- Best app if you are a beginner
This app helps you make smarter decisions regarding food consumption. It differentiates itself by offering suggestions about healthier food alternatives after determining those certain foods or products are not good for you.
I consider Fooducate app and information tool you need if you want to improve your nutrition but you have no idea where to begin.
Getting into the world of fitness, nutrition, and wellness can be overwhelming due to the vast information available but Fooducate makes it more tolerable even for nutrition experts.
To use Fooducate, you are at liberty to scan any product’s barcode, and you are presented with its nutritional value through a grading system- A+ to D-. Each food/product grade is also accompanied by an explanation as to why it has that specific grade.
Fooducate also points out vital things you need to be aware of like if a product has added sugars, sweeteners, additives, artificial coloring, or not. This is an excellent way for you to make a more informed decision if you are at the grocery store.
While at it, you can also be helped find healthier alternatives. With Fooducate, you can track both calories and their quality which I think is one of the overlooked factors about healthy eating.
Fooducate also has other features like a health tracker, healthy recipes, and diet tips. You can also track your mood, sleep, exercise, and hunger levels. The “Community” tab on Fooducate is one of the best for those who want input from other users.
Once you become part of the Fooducate community, you can also share tips and suggestions for what you have found useful with other members.
Even though people lose weight differently depending on various factors, I strongly feel support is incredibly helpful if you are struggling on your journey.
The “Recipes” tab has various trendy and favorite recipes indicated by other users.
Fooducate has a free and premium version. The premium version has a feature that allows for body measurement logging. You can choose the frequency at which you want to receive notifications during your journey on both versions.
- An informative way to help you become more aware of your nutritional needs
- The app suggests healthier food alternatives after grading
- Not a very extensive food database even though it is often updated
- Not everybody agrees with what Fooducate deems “healthy.”
- Doesn’t sync with other devices
Cronometer- Best app if you are on a specific diet
While there are many diet and weight loss apps, not many cater to those on specific diets. However, Cronometer does. The app allows you to track the diet you are on alongside your weight, and exercise regime.
On this app, you can find exact serving sizes as determined by your diet. For example, if you are an expectant or lactating mother, you can access a customized profile according to higher calorie requirements.
If you are following a particular diet like a low carb diet, vegetarian, or paleo diet, you can give Cronometer the information, and your macronutrient recommendations are adjusted as needed.
The Cronometer’s food diary is straightforward and the interface is user-friendly. Underneath it, you can find a bar chart which indicates carb, fat, and protein breakdowns for each day. You can also see how much calories you have consumed, burned, and how many are remaining. Cronometer also allows you to sync data from other health devices. On the app, you can import sleep data, weight, activities, and body fat percentages.
You can also add notes, log your exercise, and change your biometrics. You can do this on the “Settings” tab without necessarily upgrading to the paid membership.
This app is exceptional for tracking micronutrients like minerals, trace elements, and vitamins.
To use Cronometer, you can use the app or website. Accessing the Cronometer website is free but the app is paid for.
The Gold version of the app is available at an added fee. It has added features, has a more advanced analysis, and eliminates ads. The website does not allow you to add home-made recipes but if you download the app, the recipes become available.
- An easy to use interface
- Data synchrony with health devices
- Micronutrient tracking
- The food diary is not divided into meals
What are the Benefits of using apps?
Apps can help you stay out of toxic dieting. This is like when you eat or fail to eat out of emotions. Apps can help you eat more healthily by allowing you to eat in a sustainable way.
There are times you may feel like you want to limit or increase what you consume but you may not be sure about how. An app can be the guide you need.
A dieting app can allow you to track your food intake and if the margins go higher or lower than recommended, you can adjust them with the required intake.
Apps are also more convenient to use because most of the time you are close to your mobile phone. Take for example an app that allows you to scan a product to help you make an informed decision on whether to purchase it or not or get the alternative.
Some apps have features that allow you to get nutritional advice and you can also find vital information to use during your journey. Otherwise, you would have to get this information from an expert, who may also be very expensive.
Diet apps can come through and excellently support you with your weight goals, not just for weight loss but also for weight gain.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to use diet and weight loss apps?
I personally find significant value in using apps to track dietary intake and for weight loss. However, I always encourage that you should only use the apps if you are certain that you are getting the necessary input and guidance for your health goals while being compassionate and flexible with yourself.
Are free diet apps any good?
Some apps are downloadable for free and you can still get good features to help you with your journey. However, free versions also tend to have certain limitations. If you feel that you are getting value from a free app, that is enough. If you want more, you can choose to purchase.
How sure can I be that I will lose weight with a diet or fitness app?
A fitness or diet app can help you feel more accountable, motivated, disciplined, and improve progress for your weight loss journey. However, they do not guarantee that you will lose weight.
Like other weight loss programs, staying disciplined and working harder is how you lose weight.
Diet apps can be excellent tools to help you with your health goals. They can help you with your weight loss journey and conversely, some can help you gain weight. Fitness apps can help you get into better shape and at the same time help you lose weight.
The apps I have listed are a good place to start but because they are designed by people, they are not perfect. They can give you excellent benefits but they also have some downsides and shortcomings. Nevertheless, you can always try different options to find one that suits you best. My advice is that you settle on the one that you feel gives the best value and is aligned with your goals. Again, always seek medical and nutritional expertise before using a fitness or diet app.