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If you’re in for a leaner food regime, some apps may help you keep track of your diet and reach your goals.
Anyone—and we mean anyone—who has ever achieved their dieting and weight loss goals can tell you that it was one of the hardest things they’ve ever done. In fact, we’ll bet that you’ve never once met a person who lost a lot of weight and said, “Oh, that was easy!”
One of the reasons losing weight is so difficult is because it necessitates long-term willpower. Unlike pulling an all-nighter for an exam, hitting a coveted salary goal, or writing a novel, losing weight—and keeping it off—is a lifelong endeavor.
Fortunately, in this day and age of advanced digital technology, people who are struggling with weight loss can get immediate and consistent support right in the palm of their hand. Calorie counting apps accompany dieters wherever they go, offering encouragement, tracking, and motivation throughout their weight loss journeys.
If you’ve decided to embark on your journey and are looking for a calorie counting app to help you along the way, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out about the different calorie counting apps on the market, what they offer, and how you can decide which one is right for you.
Pinpointing the ‘How’
“Calorie counting apps” is somewhat of a misnomer. Yes, many of these apps do track the calories you eat, but many offer much more than just that. While most offer to help you achieve the same goal—weight loss—the way they offer it is different. The app you choose will depend on how you want to accomplish your goal.
Dieting, or Diet and Exercise?
To achieve your goal of weight loss, are you planning to simply monitor and limit the foods you eat, or are you planning on adding exercise into the mix? We all know science says a combination is best, but we also know that it’s not always possible!
If your focus will be mainly on calorie intake, you’ll need an app that focuses mainly on that, such as MyNetDiary, Fooducate, MyPlate, and Rise. If you plan on tracking your exercise as rigorously as you track your food intake, MyFitnessPal, SparkPeople, and FatSecret may be better-suited for you.
Counting Calories or Carbs?
Different diets work for different people—for some, limiting calorie intake is what works, and for others, limiting carbs or other food groups works better. People who have specific food requirements, such as low-carb, gluten-free, or other allergies, will want to look for an app that doesn’t focus on the calories, but that focuses on the foods you can and cannot eat.
Fooducate, Rise, and SparkPeople offer specialized programs geared toward people on low-carb diets, while other apps offer the option for personalized meal plans. Whatever your food restriction is, it can help you determine which app will work best for you.
The Emotions Behind The Eating
Some people don’t just want to cut calories—they want to understand the mechanisms behind what drives them to make unhealthy food choices. For people like this, meticulous calorie counting apps might seem like the worst form of torture—because instead of addressing the root problem, they attempt to force a square peg to fit through a round hole.
If you’re someone who wants to get a better understanding about the food choices you make, Noom Coach and Fooducate may be more your speed. Noom Coach helps users identify and master their triggers, and challenges their thoughts in order to become masters of what they consume, and not the other way around. Yes, it offers the typical food tracking and daily food planner, but as opposed to these being the goals in and of themselves, they are the tools to help you achieve your goals.
Fooducate focuses on helping users make healthy food choices, and offers tools that track not just the quantity of your calories, but the quality. In other words, Fooducate offers exactly what its name says - food education.
The Personalized Approach
Most of these calorie counting apps offer a regular and premium version, the latter which includes more personalization. Some apps, however, start out at the level of personalization. For example, the way Rise works is that you sign up and immediately get paired with a nutritionist. You then upload photos of your meals, and your nutritionist pinpoints your problem areas and offers tips to help you get on the right nutrition path.
Noom Coach also works on a more personalized level, helping users to not only adjust their eating patterns, but to understand the motivation that drives them.
Intense vs. Relaxed
All calorie counting apps will let you set your own goal, which means you get to determine how intense you want your weight loss program to be. Some apps, though, are more intense by nature than others. For example, Noom Coach, MyFitnessPal, MyPlate, Fooducate, and FatSecret are fairly intense apps, in the sense that in order to succeed, you need constant monitoring and tracking.
On the flip side, MyDietCoach generally takes it easy and offers a more playful approach to dieting, suggesting small lifestyle changes in order to reach your goal.
For some, an intense approach is the only thing that will work. For others, constant tracking and big commitments may backfire and have the opposite, undesired effect. If this is the case, a more mellow app will make you more likely to reach your goal.
All of the top calorie counting app, except FatSecret, costs money. There’s just no way around it. Some are more expensive than others, but the basic ones range between $30-$60 per year. In other cases, the cost will depend on what track you choose (low-carb, gluten-free, etc.) And still others, like Noom Coach and Rise, which offer a more personalized experience, charge more, with Noom costing $89.99 per year and Rise charging $120 per every 3 months.
Most of these apps also offer a smaller monthly fee that comes out more expensive in the long-run, but offers the option for immediate cancellation—as opposed to a yearly plan, which is cheaper in the long-run, but if you're not happy after one month, you've wasted a much larger sum of money. The idea behind a monthly payment plan is to make sure you actually enjoy using the app!
Some apps also offer a free trial, which is a good idea to take advantage of for the same reason you may opt for a monthly plan, as opposed to a yearly—if you don’t enjoy using the app, chances are you won’t stick with it. And it’s better to find out before you shell out any money, if possible.
Ready, Set, Go!
There is one prerequisite that only you can fulfill in order to ensure that your calorie counting app is successful. That prerequisite is that you have to be ready for it. Most people who are overweight want to lose weight, but they’re not ready to take the plunge and really commit to it.
In fact, many weight loss stories go something like this, “I struggled with weight my whole life, but it wasn’t until x happened that I realized I needed to make a change.” Sometimes that x is rejection, sometimes it’s health issues, sometimes it’s the weight loss of a close friend or family member. Whatever it is, everyone needs to have their own personal x in order launch them into action.
Once you’ve reached x point, a calorie counting app can offer the support you need in order to achieve your goal. And then, there will be no stopping you!