The World Health Organization (WHO) defines overweight and obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation, which may result in harm to the person’s health (1). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refers to these terms as labels used to describe ranges of weight that are considered greater than the normal healthy weight for a given height (2).
In 2014, about 13% of the world’s adult population was obese, while 39% of adults aged 18 years and older were overweight. The rate of obesity has more than doubled between 1980 and 2014 (1). The main problem is that overweight and obesity is killing more people than underweight worldwide, including people in high-income and most middle-income countries (1).
Unfortunately, many health problems may occur as a consequence of obesity, including musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancers such as endometrial, breast, and colon.
But these diseases are preventable! One of the most important strategies to manage obesity and other related health conditions is a behavioral intervention for weight management and lifestyle changes, which requires self-monitoring. There is a great need for effective theory-driven tools to help individuals manage weight.
Why Use A Weight Loss App?
A large number of apps focused on health and fitness have emerged on the market. In 2017, a total of 325,000 mobile health apps were available in major app stores, and the number of users is expected to increase in the upcoming years (3).
Using a diet-tracking app may improve self-monitoring, goal setting, and knowledge and develop self-efficacy, which are all key behavior changes for weight loss. Self-monitoring increases self-awareness with regard to targeting behavior and outcomes in relation to food intake goals. In addition, it can act as an early warning system, indicating whether the risk of becoming overweight is increasing (4).
It can track energy intake and other important aspects of diet. Healthy choices are easier to make if you know the exact calorie count of food in question. You can even plan a full week of meals or make a daily food plan with the apps. This may be particularly useful for those who are at risk of or who already need to manage specific diet-related health issues, such as a need to monitor carbohydrate intake for metabolic disease syndrome, sodium intake for hypertension, or food elimination for irritable bowel syndrome or allergies.
The use of these weight loss apps may also encourage physical activities (4). Weight loss apps also have the ability to:
- Set and track progress toward goals
- Track activity levels and gradually increase time and reps
- See progress immediately via the app, and in some cases, compare it to others
- Heart rate train and monitor progression
In addition to the importance of accurate diet and exercise measures, usability is an important aspect of quality diet-tracking apps. Usability encompasses multiple dimensions of user interaction with an app, which includes ease of use, complexity, need for training and support, and willingness to continue use. Various weight loss is generally receiving good to very good ratings of usability.
Although health care providers can monitor an individual’s health, they face clear problems with providing treatment and advice to the people who are at risk of overweight and obesity. Self-monitoring combined with healthy weight guidelines provides an alternative solution to weight management (5).
What Are the Best Apps That Can Help You Slim Down?
Here are 10 of the best weight loss apps that can help you shed unwanted pounds.
MyFitnessPal is one of the most popular calorie counters available now. It can track your weight can help calculate your suggested daily calorie intake. It also features a winning food journal and an exercise log.
Its homepage will show you a clear picture of how many calories you’ve already consumed and the remaining recommended intake. It also shows the count of calories you’ve burned by exercising. You can sync this with other fitness tracking devices. This app will help track your progress and offers chat forums with other users, where you can find tips, recipes, and personal success stories.
It has a very extensive nutrition database, storing more than 5 million foods. You can check out their recipes and create custom dishes too! Also, it has a barcode scanner that allows you to easily enter the nutrition information of some packaged foods.
It also has a “Quick Add” feature, which you can use when you know the number of calories you ate but don’t have the time to enter all the details of your meal.
2. Lose It
This is yet another health tracker that features an easy-to-use food journal and exercise log. You can connect this to a pedometer and other fitness devices. Based on your age, height, weight, and goals, this can customize recommendations for your calorie intake.
It also features a comprehensive food database. The food journal is very user-friendly. Adding new foods is not complicated too. It also has a barcode scanner for packaged foods.
Unlike other apps, it has a “Snap It” feature, which allows you to track your food intake and portion sizes simply by taking pictures of your meals. Studies have shown that taking pictures of your meals may help you keep track of portion sizes more accurately and observe trends in your dietary intake, both of which are helpful for promoting weight loss (6, 7, 8, 9). You may also use the tab called “challenges.” This allows you to join dietary challenges with other users or make your own and share information or ask questions in a forum.
Are you looking for a free calorie counter? FatSecret is the answer! Just like other premium apps, this includes a food journal, exercise logs, weight charts, nutrition database, and healthy recipes. It also has a barcode scanner for packaged foods.
FatSecret can show you your total calorie intake, including the breakdown of carbohydrates, fat, and protein on a daily and monthly basis! This feature may be more convenient to track your overall progress. This counter is very easy to use.
Having a support system may be helpful for weight management. Evidence showed that social support can help people become more successful at achieving and maintaining weight loss goals (10, 11, 12). FatSecret is focused on providing its users with that support.
Another feature that makes FatSecret stand out from other weight loss apps is the “My Professionals” tool, in which you can share your food, exercise, and weight data with your preferred healthcare providers.
If you need an app that will allow you to log your daily meals, weight, and exercise with a user-friendly tracking tool, you should try SparkPeople. It has an impressively huge nutrition database, containing over 3,000,000 food items. It also includes a barcode scanner, making it easy for you to keep track of any packaged foods that you eat.
After signing up, you’ll easily gain access to their exercise demo component. This includes photos and descriptions of many common exercises, so you can ensure you are using proper techniques during your workouts. There is also a points system integrated into this app. Every time you log your habits and achieve your goals, you will receive “points,” which can be used for personal motivation.
And unlike other apps, this is FREE!
Fitbit is an excellent resource to help you track your exercises. These wearable devices can measure your activity level throughout the day by counting the number of steps, miles, and stairs you have taken as well as your heart rate. You can also keep track of your food and water intake, sleep habits and weight goals. All of your activities are synced in an app.
Similar to other weight loss apps, this tracker also has strong community features. It allows you to easily connect with your friends and loved ones who are also using Fitbit. You can participate in various “challenges” with them and share your progress if you choose.
Depending on the type of Fitbit you have, you may set alarms as reminders for exercise. You will also receive notifications on your phone to tell you how close you are to your fitness goals for the day.
Additionally, you are rewarded whenever you achieve a specific goal. For example, you may get the “New Zealand Award” after completing 990 miles walk, signifying that you’ve walked the entire length of New Zealand, etc.
Other devices and apps similar to Fitbit are Jawbone UP, Apple Watch and Google Fit.
How about using cash stakes to keep you motivated and help you achieve your weight loss goals? If this sounds good to you, then sign up for Pact!
With this app, you’ll choose a specific amount of money to pay out to other members if you fail to reach your weekly goals. Weekly payments often range from $0.30 to $5. On the other hand, if you were successful with your goals, you get a cash reward that is paid for by other members who missed their goals.
Many studies have linked financial incentives for better weight loss outcomes (16, 17, 18, 19). This best explains why many are signing for a helpful dieter’s tool like Pact. In one study, people who were offered a financial reward of $10 for meeting their weight loss goal lost approximately 10 more pounds over 4 weeks (20).
You may choose between 3 different types of “pacts.” You can commit to a gym pact, veggie pact, and food logging pact. Met goals are verified by the Pact community after they have seen pictures of your meals or by ensuring you have filled out your food or exercise log.
To use Pact, you’ll also need a MyFitnessPal account for food recording. The apps sync with each other so you can easily track your progress.
We love dining out, don’t we? And this makes it more difficult for us to lose weight due to the high carb and calorie dishes and big servings that most restaurants offer.
While you may not avoid eating out because of your busy schedules, downloading an app like HealthyOut can be very helpful. This offers you a list of healthy restaurant menus that you can find in nearby locations based on your selected nutrition preferences. It can filter results with a variety of options to choose from including heart-healthy, vegetarian, or paleo.
Make better choices on on-the-go foods, use the HealthyOut app!
Another weight loss app that you can use to record your nutrition, fitness and health data is Cron-O-Meter. Similar to other apps, it has an extensive calorie-counting feature along with a database of more than 50,000 different foods.
This app focuses on helping you obtain optimal nutrient intake while keeping your calories at a healthy level. Compared to other apps, Cron-O-Meter can track significantly more nutrients, approximately 60 or more, so you can be sure that you are meeting your dietary requirements. It also has a “Trends” feature, which displays your progress toward your weight goals over a specific time range.
Another unique feature of Cron-O-Meter is its “Snapshot” section. Here, you can upload photos of your body to compare throughout your weight loss journey. It can also estimate your body fat percentage.
A forum is also available where you can start online discussions with other app users about various nutrition topics.
9. Weight Watchers
If you are looking for a service that can help you with weight loss and maintenance, look for Weight Watchers. They help people lower their calorie intake by assigning “points” to foods based on their calories, saturated fat, and sugar content. The higher a food is in these components, the more “points” it has. Based on personal goals, every person is given a specific amount of “points” to aim for in their diet.
Unlike other apps, which only has an online program, you can participate in Weight Watchers by attending their in-person meetings, which are held in various locations throughout the US.
Evidence showed that people who participated in Weight Watchers had at least 2.6% greater weight loss compared to non-participants (25).
Their app can be used to monitor your progress. You can log your food intake and record your points. It has a barcode scanner that makes it easier for you to enter foods. Furthermore, the app has a component that will assist you in making healthy choices while eating out. They have a list of some restaurant dishes and their point totals, which you can add to your intake with the click of a button.
Another advantage of using the Weight Watchers app is its broad collection of recipes that you can search based on mealtime and dietary requirements.
Making healthy choices while grocery shopping is very important for weight loss. But this is easier said than done, right? How can you resist your favorite chocolates and chips?
The use of an app like Fooducate may help you better navigate all of the different products at the grocery store. This app acts as a “nutrition scanner.” When you scan a food’s barcode, you’ll get detailed information about it, including nutrition facts and ingredients. It can also warn you of unhealthy ingredients that are commonly hidden in products, such as trans-fat and high-fructose corn syrup.
Unlike other weight loss apps, Fooducate does not only bring certain characteristics of foods to your attention, it likewise offers you healthier alternatives to purchase. Isn’t that amazing?
There are indeed many helpful apps that you can use to support your weight loss goals. Most of them are good at monitoring your weight, food and calorie intake, and exercise routines, while others offer guidance for making healthy food choices.
More so, these apps have components meant to boost your motivation and give you inspiration such as community support, point systems, and other tools that document the progress you have made over time.
While weight loss apps offer many advantages, some also have downfalls. Other people who are not into gadgets may find them overwhelming. Others think they are time-consuming.
Nonetheless, these weight loss apps are certainly worth trying. See if they can assist you with your needs. With so many features, you can try one or more and find the best that will suit your preferences and needs the most.