According to a 2020 scientific review of mobile apps for weight management, apps may help your weight loss journey in the following ways:
- Tracking daily calorie budget, macronutrients, and activity levels
- Tracking weight loss results
- Providing advice around healthy habits or physical activity
- Connecting users with dietitians, fitness experts, or other users with similar goals
But the latest evidence suggests that while mobile phone apps can enhance weight loss results, they still don’t guarantee success[*].
If the idea of using an app as part of your weight loss plan sounds attractive, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from, and finding the one that suits your preferences and goals will increase your overall chances of success.
Keep reading to learn which app is the best fit for your needs.
- Lose It!
- Perfect Keto Macro Calculator
- IIFYM Calculator
- Happy Scale
MyFitnessPal is a smartphone app and website that’s been around since 2005. The main focus is on calorie balance as a means to manage weight, with features like exercise logging, diet tracking, and gamification to help you reach your goals.
If you like the idea of calorie counting as a weight management method, MyFitnessPal is worthy of your attention. Users can calculate their daily calorie needs, log activity, and enter (or scan) foods from an extensive nutrition database that includes popular brands, chain restaurants, and other options.
MyFitnessPal uses a “freemium” subscription model, offering users a free tier with limited features. A monthly Premium subscription costs $9.99 each month, or you can save by signing up for $49.99 per year.
Pros of MyFitnessPal:
- Users can generate detailed nutrition and activity reports, including graphs and pie charts.
- The website offers free message boards for users who feel they can benefit from participating in a community.
- MyFitnessPal pairs and syncs with popular fitness tracking devices including Strava, Garmin, UP, FitBit, and Jawbone.
Cons of MyFitnessPal:
- Calorie counting doesn’t work for everyone to lose weight, and can contribute to an unhealthy mindset around food[*]. (A 2017 study found a majority of people examined diagnosed with eating disorders used MyFitnessPal, and 73% felt it contributed to their disorder[*].)
- The food data is crowdsourced, meaning it isn’t always accurate.
Founded in 2008, LoseIt is an “all-in-one” diet tracker app that’s based around the concept of tracking calories (including calories burned during activity as well as food intake) for weight loss purposes.
If you’re mainly looking for a calorie management app, Lose It! should be on your radar.
The distinguishing features of this app are its easy-to-use interface, daily and weekly report generation, and ability to log food selection and portion sizes using the “SnapIt” photo capture feature.
Like other “freemium” apps, Lose It! has a free version with restricted functionality. But if you want to unlock the full range of features, that will cost you $39.99 per year.
There’s no monthly subscription option, but Lose It! does offer lifetime memberships for $149.99-$189.99.
Pros of Lose It!
- Streamlined interface.
- “All-in-one” functionality (meaning the app attempts to provide everything you need to lose weight, such as workout plans and nutrition advice)
- The “SnapIt” photo feature makes logging meals faster and easier, even compared to a barcode scanner (which is also available).
Cons of Lose It!
- Unless you commit to a full year-long subscription, the feature set is limited to basic functions (such as calorie and macro counting and activity logging).
- The same caveats apply as for any calorie-counting app, namely that calorie counting isn’t the best way for everyone to lose weight and can also exacerbate unhealthy eating patterns[*][*].
If you’re looking for expert nutrition guidance but would rather not take the time and effort to use an app every day, a macronutrient calculator may be a better choice.
The Perfect Keto Macro Calculator is a free resource designed to help people reach any goal, including weight loss goals.
Whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain weight, the Keto Calculator is an easy way to determine the exact amount of carbs, fat, and protein you need to reach your goals using the ketogenic diet.
Pros of the Keto Macro Calculator:
- The keto diet is ultra-simple and doesn’t require any calorie counting or other forms of food logging to achieve weight loss success.
- Users don’t have to install apps, pay for subscriptions, or sort through dozens of features they may not need.
- Using a calculator rather than an app helps protect your privacy.
- Doesn’t require an iPhone (Apple iOS) or Android smartphone.
Cons of the Keto Macro Calculator:
- While simple and easy to use, the Keto Macro Calculator doesn’t offer the same feature set most apps offer. If you need daily guidance, too, try pairing the Macro Calculator with one of the keto-compatible apps listed below.
Cronometer is a diet tracker app headquartered in Canada. This tracking app offers support for several diets including keto, paleo, and vegan diets and also allows you to record and track workouts.
Cronometer’s biggest claim to fame is accuracy. Unlike MyFitnessPal, Lose It!, and most other nutrition tracking apps, their nutrient database is curated and only includes data from verified, accurate sources.
Another benefit of Cronometer is that it places extensive focus on nutrient tracking and encourages users to track their vitamin, mineral, and protein intakes — which is helpful for staying healthy, especially during reduced-calorie diets.
Choose between the free version (with a nice range of functions but ads are included), Gold subscription for $5.99 per month (or $34.95 per year) with a wide range of “power user” functions and no ads, or $24.95 per month Professional subscription for dietitians and healthcare providers.
Pros of Cronometer:
- Offers a credible and accurate nutrition database, which is a step up from crowdsourced nutrition data.
- Syncs and pairs with most popular fitness tracker devices (even if you only use the free version).
- Greater range of functions in free version compared to most apps.
Cons of Cronometer:
- Food database is less extensive than many competitor apps.
- It’s been described as a “nutrition nerd’s dream,” so it may be overly detailed for some people.
- Many users find the pop-up ads on the free version annoying.
BodySpace is an app and fitness community provided by Bodybuilding.com. While it offers many tracker features, it works more like a social media platform compared to conventional weight loss and fitness apps.
The standout features of BodySpace include digital personal training (using videos and form cues), regularly updated content tailored to users’ feeds, and a suite of social and fitness features not found in other tracker apps.
If you’re drawn to a more interactive social platform that’s still got many tracking functions, BodySpace could be a good option.
Pros of BodySpace:
- Supports a range of health and fitness goals (including weight loss).
- Choose between workouts designed by pros and community-based workouts.
Cons of BodySpace:
- Less focus on nutrition compared to other apps
- Some users report that the app is buggy and not updated frequently enough.
MacroStax is a macronutrient tracker that emphasizes personalized nutrition, healthy macros, and meal planning.
This macro tracking app may sound similar enough to other weight loss apps, but it’s a smaller and more carefully thought out project than most.
The lack of a free version may sound like a downside, but it means the MacroStax team gets to focus entirely on serving their subscribers.
The feature set isn’t quite as broad as larger apps, either, but most users feel that MacroStax are really good at what they do. Also on the positive side, users get access to a real nutritionist whenever needed.
While a free trial is available, there’s no free version of MacroStax. You’ll have to pay $19.99 per month or $119.88 per year if you want to use it after the trial period.
Pros of MacroStax:
- The increased emphasis on counting and tracking macronutrients may be more effective (and healthier) for many users compared to the more common focus on calories.
- Each user receives a customized macro plan designed by experts — including workout, rest day, and refeed day macronutrients.
- The meal builder feature helps users build meals that are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, or meet other requirements.
Cons of MacroStax:
- No free version.
IIFYM stands for “if it fits your macros.” The basic idea is to free users up to choose whatever foods they wish as long as the food selection is suitable for their goals.
The IIFYM calculator is a website, but a series of free spin-off apps are also available.
IIFYM Calculator lets you “discover your ideal macros” in about thirty seconds based on gender, age, height, current weight, goal weight, estimated body fat, activity levels, training history and program, nutritional preference, medical diagnosis, motivation, and experience level.
Cost: Free for basic report, but users may receive promotional materials after entering their email address.
Pros of IIFYM Calculator:
- Lightweight and simple.
- Versatile for a range of users and goals.
- No smartphone needed.
Cons of IIFYM Calculator:
- Lack of ongoing support for users — once you discover your ideal macros, you’ll need to track them another way (if you want to).
- The calculator does not cite peer-reviewed sources and may not be evidence-based.
Happy Scale is a weight loss tracking app designed to help users understand daily weight fluctuations.
Weighing yourself too frequently can be demoralizing and may not help you reach your goals, but Happy Scale is an app intended to help you understand whether you’re still on track despite those normal fluctuations.
If you feel a need to weigh yourself every day for whatever reason, Happy Scale could be the perfect app for your needs.
Cost: Free to download and use, or $2.99 to remove all in-app advertisements.
Pros of Happy Scale:
- It’s innovative.
- Users report more peace of mind and better results compared to daily weigh-ins without the app.
Cons of Happy Scale:
- If you can stop weighing yourself every day, and instead weigh in once or twice a week, that may be a better idea than using an app for reassurance.
- Lack of other useful features besides daily weight tracking (no calorie counter, activity tracker, etc.).
- Lack of transparency and may not be evidence-based.
Senza (not to be confused with Sensa, a controversial diet aid product) is a self-described “food inspiration” app with a mission to build a decentralized food system and reinforce healthy social connections.
Reviewers compare Senza to MyFitnessPal or Lose It!, except Senza is optimized for keto and intermittent fasting, which happen to be two of the most effective evidence-based practices for weight loss.
Along with normal diet tracker functions, Senza also allows users to shop for keto products and may offer more social features in the future.
Free to download and use. Users can buy points (or earn them by meeting streak goals), which then unlock premium coaching features.
Pros of Senza:
- Reviewers praise Senza’s customer service.
- Syncs with BioSense breath ketone monitor.
Cons of Senza:
- Only supports low-carb or keto diets.
- Some users complain the interface is unintuitive and has low visual contrast, making it difficult to use for some individuals.
Noom is a calorie intake tracking app that also encourages healthy habits.
Noom offers the usual features users typically expect from weight loss apps, but with more emphasis on wellness and sustainable lifestyle choices, virtual coaching, and user support.
If you’ve found the available free and freemium apps lacking in human support or otherwise insufficient to assist your goals, Noom might be what you’re looking for.
The in-depth features of this app command a premium cost of $59 per month or $129 for a three-month subscription (savings of $48), and there’s no free version, only a two-week introductory trial.
Pros of Noom:
- According to the makers, Noom is evidence-based and uses proven psychological principles to assist users in achieving weight loss and lifelong health.
- One study several years ago found that 77.9% of Noom app users reported a decrease in body weight while using the app, though the study was not randomized and lacked a control group[*].
Cons of Noom:
- No free version.
- May be unaffordable for some would-be users.
According to the latest research, diet apps can help you get better results, but they don’t necessarily guarantee success[*].
One important factor in successfully using an app to aid weight loss is finding the right fit for how you want to lose weight, because they’re definitely not one-size-fits-all.
And other evidence suggests that apps could exacerbate unhealthy eating patterns for some users, so use caution if you’ve got body image issues or symptoms of an eating disorder[*].
Overall, weight loss and healthy living don’t have to be complicated, and whether or not you use an app, you’ll benefit from incorporating healthy grocery shopping lists, meal prep techniques, plenty of walking, and other forms of cardio and physical activity to reach your goals.