If we can’t have magic weight-loss pixie dust, we’ll take our smartphones. These days, health and fitness apps offer everything from motivation to calorie counting. Most apps keep track of what we eat and how much we exercise, or attempt to inspire with pop-ups and notifications. Some of the best weight loss apps integrate even more of the steps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites for shedding pounds. Here’s a rundown of four of the best weight loss apps on the market today.

1 Weight Watchers

When it comes to teaching dieters to make smart choices—consistently and for the long haul—Weight Watchers excels. The program (and app) helps dieters identify and choose foods that encourage weight loss. After evaluating the user’s weight and weight loss goals, Weight Watchers provides a personalized target “point range” within which the dieter should eat. Every food has a point value—18 points for a Big Mac, 0 points for an apple—all of which can be looked up within the app. Stay within your points range and you’re pretty much guaranteed to shed weight. (For example, a 5’5″ tall, 146-pound woman looking to lose five pounds, or a 5’5″ tall, 162-pound woman looking to lose 21 pounds, would be allotted 30 points per day.)

App users log what they eat and can track weight loss and exercise, get support from others, and plan meals—versus just tracking calories after consumption. As an added bonus, users can swap points earned exercising for a splurge like, say, that second glass of wine.

Pros: Encourages healthy choices; food diary; exercise tracking; weight tracking; meal planning; assists with portion control; optional social support; optional expert coaching.

Cons: Prices start at $3.84 a week; limited options for connecting fitness apps. 

2 MyFitnessPal

For those for whom calorie counting is the ultimate solution, there’s MyFitnessPal, the diet and exercise app from Under Armour. Users register their starting weight and goal weight and are then given a calorie limit for the day. (For a 5’5″ tall, 146-pound woman looking to lose five pounds: 1,320 calories.) Logging meals helps users keep within that target calorie range and foods are often identified by value—eggs, for example, being high protein. Bonuses include the ability to add progress photos to weigh-ins, and, as one user reported, the app counts sex as a workout.

Pros: Food diary; calorie counting; exercise tracking; weight tracking.

Cons: The ads in the free version. 

3 Lose It!

Another fave among calorie counters, Lose It! establishes a budget for each user based on weight loss goals and lets you track against it. Within the app, users search for foods and track their intake and exercise, and can also connect wearables for easier tracking. Articles about everything from healthy eating to why workouts aren’t working appear regularly within the apps homepage, too, for motivation.

Speaking of motivation, as an added plus, Lose It! reminders pop up occasionally, usually when you haven’t tracked food in a while: “Ring, your log called to say it misses you.” For $39 a year, users also get the ability to track more than just calories-in and calories-out—there’s additional accounting for carbs, fat, and body measurements, as well as help with meal and exercise planning.

Pros: Food diary; calorie counting; exercise tracking; weight tracking.

Cons: The app is a bit garish and the ads (in the free version) can be annoying. 

4 Noom

When researchers set out to study the use of phone apps for weight reduction and maintenance in overweight and obese people a few years ago, they based their research on Noom (then known as Noom Coach). Of the 35,921 participants in the 2016 study, which published in the journal Scientific Reports, roughly 76% of women and 84% of men lost weight while using the app. Nearly 23% experienced more than 10 percent weight loss.

The free version of Noom works like most others: Enter your goals and weight and the app sets you up with a plan based around caloric intake. To stay on track, users record their intake and exercise manually—although an activity monitor tracks steps and users can link apps such as Google Fit and wearables like Fitbit. With Noom’s emphasis on accountability, a premium version ($59 per month) brings the added benefit of a coach who checks in every day or so, a support group (think: the dieter’s version of social media), as well as a course in healthy weight loss, diabetes prevention, or how to avoid hypertension. Tip: Sign up with your email address and Noom will send you a free 14-day trial and a discount on the next four months.

Pros: Food diary; calorie counting; exercise tracking; weight tracking; accountability. The premium version is highly motivational—even for those inclined to cynicism—and personal coach helps keep users engaged.

Cons: $59 a month; your leader may be half your age and size. 

Also see

9 Things You Should Be Eating If You Want to Lose Weight

9 Things You Should Be Eating If You Want to Lose Weight



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