Summer has arrived, and while every body is a beach body, perhaps you'd like to shed a few of those winter pounds or tone up before you slather on the SPF and head outside.
Calorie-counting and exercise-tracking fitness apps abound. They let you use a smartphone or tablet to record that nutritious lunch or Zumba class. Most let you record food and exercise, as well as set a net calorie consumption target or range for the day based on your height, weight, age, gender, and overall level of activity.
Sure, there's more to losing weight than simply computing calorie input and expenditure, but that's already a huge challenge to conquer. The apps below can help you reach that first level of success much faster than a notebook, pen, and calculator.
(Free; Premium is $9.99 per month or $49.99 per year)
This free fitness app (iOS, Android) is one of the best all-in-one calorie counter and exercise trackers for smartphones and tablets. A simple design and interface make using the app a quick chore rather than a demoralizing project, which is essential when trying to reach a fitness goal. It's also the best for international eaters, with a database full of information about brand-name foods and home-cooked dishes from North America and around the world.
The MyFitnessPal website offers social support as well as more tools for helping you reach your diet and health goals. The premium version adds features like a nutrient dashboard and more measurements.
(Free with ads or $39.99 per year)
The Lose It! app (iOS, Android) can help you lose weight, especially if you tend to eat name-brand foods. The barcode scanner is especially handy, but it's harder to calculate homemade foods than it is with MyFitnessPal. FitNow (the company behind Lose It!) has built an entire ecosystem around its apps working with other fitness products, such as smart scales, blood pressure monitors, trackers, and other apps like RunKeeper. The Premium Lose It! (required for some of the above) also looks at body fat, hydration, sleep, blood glucose, and more. And it kills the advertising.
MyPlate Calorie Tracker
Livestrong's MyPlate Calorie Tracker once cost $2.99 but is now free for iOS and Android. It requires a little more work than others in its class, leaving users sitting on their butts rather than getting them up and running. Livestrong.com also offers MyQuit Coach for iOS, an app for those who want to quit smoking.
Water Drink Reminder
(Free with ads; $1.99 Pro)
This Android app does one thing and only one thing particularly well: it reminds you to drink enough water for your health. Plus, you can use it to track your water intake. It's not flashy, and drinking water for weight loss is controversial with some, but it gets the job done. It also works with Android watches. You can get an ad-free Pro version for $1.99.
(Free or $59 per month up to $199 per year after 7-day trial, with recurring options as well for every 2, 4, 6, or 8 months)
Much more than a calorie counter and exercise tracker, Noom (iOS, Android) can coach you into health with "better lifelong eating habits." It gives you new goals each morning to focus on, rather than letting you live however you want and record it later. The costly version comes with articles, meal and workout plans, and coaching. There's lots of personal coaching and input, from doctors, psychologists, nutritionists, and personal trainers. The promise from Noom is that has a "scientifically proven psychology approach to 'trick' your body into building healthy habits."
WW (Weight Watchers)
($19.95 per week with 3-month commitment + $20 starter fee for Digital Plan)
Anyone who's ever tried to lose weight has probably turned to Weight Watchers at some point. Even before apps were a thing, it was the primo way to count calories (via easy to parse "points"). It's since been re-branded as WW to take advantage of the "wellness" craze, but it's the same idea. The WW apps (iOS, Android) and website make the service easy to handle, with on-the-fly point creation based on scans of food being just one of the options. The digital plan doesn't require any regular IRL meetings with weigh-ins (that costs even more)—you get all the benefits of WW without the public shaming; an online community called Connect makes up for the lack of public community, mostly.
(Free or $35.99 for Pro version)
Picture an app that promises to do all the stuff the WW app does—and also supports the old points systems that Weight Watchers ditched. If you're a fan of that option, iTrackBites (iOS, Android) should be your pick. It's also got the online community, big food database, and barcode scanning you've come to expect from these apps. Some of the advanced features do require an in-app purchase to upgrade to the Pro version. Or pay for each feature individually, like $1.99 each to get the restaurant guide or the online food database. Pay $5.99 for all the guides bundled together. No matter how you slice it, that's still a lot cheaper than a couple months of Weight Watchers. (If it's not obvious: iTrackBytes is not affiliated with WW.)
My Diet Coach
(Free with ads, $4.99 per month, or $29.99 per year)
There's no reason weight loss shouldn't be played like a game. My Diet Coach (iOS, Android) does all the typical things for tracking progress and setting goals, but the interface plays out more like a video game full of challenges that you convert into reward points as you progress. It also nags you, which may be all the motivation you need. If not, pay for a subscription to get some advanced coaching—and a food craving "panic button" with extra help to prevent a binge.
($29.99 per quarter or $79.99 per year after 30-day trial)
Cutting calories is important for weight loss, but keeping fit requires more. The American College of Sports Medicine created a 7-minute workout for sedentary types, consisting of 12 exercises. There are plenty of apps that help you go through the moves, with a vocal coach egging you on. A study of those apps found Sworkit (iOS, Android)—short for "simply work it"—does the best job. There are full five- to 60-minute workout options so you can adjust the time and workout as long as you like, customizing whatever exercise best suit your needs. The subscription lets you talk to trainers, pre-build workouts, and best of all, avoid advertising.
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