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There’s an old short story called “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.” Besides being a great tale (and the inspiration for a rockin’ Iron Maiden heavy metal song) the title emphasizes something that many involved in fitness realize—it’s a lonely prospect.
Historically, weight loss has involved gathering discipline and motivation on your own. You may have tried to involve a loved one, but with such a sensitive topic, it might have caused some friction in your relationship.
Now you don’t have to get healthy alone. There are plenty of apps designed to help connect you with the proper motivation while also educating you about what you can do to take better care of yourself.
Here’s a rundown of some of the top weight loss apps on the market today. Along with the advantages and disadvantages of each and how they compare to each other:
A little education can go a long way and Fooducate is on a mission to education you about the foods you eat and how they affect you. And you don’t have to take our word for it—The U.S. Surgeon General has awarded this the top prize in the Healthy App Challenge.
That’s a pretty hefty recommendation!
You may not want to use this one by itself though. While other apps may help you track activity a little better, Fooducate helps you track what you eat and what it does to your body.
When you enter an item in your food tracker, the app will rank that food for you (A, B, C, or D) based on its health benefits. It has a feature that allows you to enter your own recipes and it will calculate the nutritional information from the ingredients.
But what really sets this app apart is how it allows you to track your food along with your sleep and mood so that you can see if the foods you eat are interfering with your bodily rhythms and emotions.
This app doesn’t just track how much you eat—it also helps to show you the quality of what you are eating.
- Available from both Google Play and iTunes
- Ability to import activity and exercise data from other apps
- Allows for personalization based on several categories like age, gender, and activity level
- Also allows Family Sharing so up to six different family members can share this app
- Has a smaller database than other apps when it comes to nutritional value
- Doesn’t have an easy search feature for foods to look things up
2. Lose It!
Here’s another app that provides a full range of weight loss encouragement. First off, it offers a food journal tracker that lets you record your caloric intake and other nutritional facts. It also let’s you use your camera as a barcode scanner to look up food’s nutritional info.
This app, which is available through Apple, Android, and Amazon, boasts over 30 million users who have lost 60 million pounds.
Lose It! has added an EmbodyDNA option in conjunction with Helix. You basically mail in a DNA sample to Helix and they will analyze it and give you a list of foods that you should eat and foods to avoid based on your DNA markers. (This is an additional $190 fee.)
- Easy to use customizable meal plan feature
- Lots of the features cost like premium options ($39.99) and EmbodyDNA ($190)
Walking has always been considered a great way to lose weight. Doctors recommend that you should take about 10,000 steps each day. That’s why you are often encouraged to take the stairs instead of the elevator at work and to choose the farthest parking space when you’re getting your groceries.
FitBits have become all of the rage because they track your activity. But this health app can help with some of those same functions.
Maipo is available for the iPhone and it acts like a pedometer. But it doesn’t just check your steps—it will tell you how long you’ve walked and how many calories you’ve burned.
You can even check your progress over a month’s time with a calendar screen chart. It’s easy to see why this health app currently has a 4.9 out of 5 star rating on the Apple store.
- Low power usage won’t kill your battery
- Nine different theme colors to help you customize the look
- Daily goal suggestions based on your personal information
- Currently only for the iPhone (sorry Droid users)
This particular app (and the accompanying website) is one of the most popular on the market. Think of this as an online fitness journal—you set your weight, height, and weight loss goals along with your general level of physical activity.
The app then lets you select your goal for weight loss (between 1 and 2 pounds a week) and then you are given a goal for calorie intake each day.
It also gives you an estimate after each weight check-in for how much longer you need to work towards your weight goal. (This gives an added incentive as you have an end in sight with a timeline.)
In addition, the app lets you track your physical exercise and also has an extensive list of foods with nutritional facts as well as the ability to call these up using a barcode scanner.
- If you eat out a lot, there is a large database of foods from chain restaurants nationwide
- Whether you use the mobile app or website, the data from the two sync pretty easily
- User submitted nutritional information can clutter up the list and confuse some users with the wrong nutritional facts
- This app has a lot of ads to offset the fact that it’s free
If you like getting in a daily workout, but don’t always have time to go the gym, then Nike Training Club can be a major addition to your workout regime.
The expert trainers for Nike have put together over 100 different workouts for you based on activity (yoga, cardio, warm-up, cool-down, etc.) and according to how much time you have for your workout.
In addition, this doesn’t just give you a list of workouts to complete, but an actual workout plan that you can see on a calendar so you can get the most out of your workouts. This app is amazingly 100% free, which is such a great value for what you’ll get.
- Did I mention it’s totally free? No upcharges or premium features here
- Multiple levels of workouts cover people of all ability ranges
- Some bug issues still need to be worked out
Noom doesn’t just have customer testimonials behind it—it actually has scientific proof to back it up.
This app was used by researchers to track how well apps work at helping people lose weight and the results are in: 76% of women and 84% of men using Noom lost weight.
This app lets you track your caloric intake, but it also syncs with Google Fit or FitBits to allow you to get a better handle on your exercise and activity.
The app really pushes accountability as an important part of weight loss, so it will assign a coach to you who will check in, offer encouragement, and help you get motivated.
- Personal coach helps the unmotivated get motivated
- The coach option (and other premium features) cost $59.99 and some have said that the coach may be a little too “perfect” for those starting out as they may be much smaller and younger than you
If you are looking for an app that can give you just a little push…or nudge…in the right direction, then check this one out.
The idea is that Nudge will be a one-stop shop for your fitness data. You can enter your food, exercise, water consumption, and sleep.
It also allows you to track your vices that may negatively impact your health such as cigarettes and alcohol consumption. (This is a feature that is lacking in a lot of apps.)
Nudge has a feature that allows you to sign up for clubs with like-minded individuals who can help to motivate you and inspire you to reach your weight loss goals.
- Definitely helps promote the social aspect of weight loss
- Can be a bit basic when it comes to nutritional information; other apps have a wider variety of food options available to track
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, then you know that one of the most dangerous places you can go is the grocery store.
ShopWell takes the confusion out of shopping for food by helping to simplify your options. By scanning an app, it can instantly give you the lowdown on just what is hidden in the food you are considering and help you decide if it’s a healthy choice.
If you have an allergy to nuts or gluten, it has an alert to inform you to steer clear from that particular food. It can also take a category of food (let’s say cereal or protein bars) and give you a ranking as to which choice is the healthiest option.
- Works in unison with Apple Health Kit
- Can be a big help if you have food allergies
- Allows you to order foods directly through the app
- Doesn’t really work well by itself as it only provides nutritional information; works best used in conjunction with other fitness apps that help with exercise
- Doesn’t contain any options for healthy recipes to go with those food purchases
This app comes to you from a group called SparkPeople that has been around since 1999 helping people get in great shape and it still gets an overall ranking of 4.6 out of 5 stars.
With this app, you enter your height, weight, and other data and then begin tracking your weight loss. As you enter your daily exercises and the foods you eat along with water intake, the app will track it for you and give you recommendations for helping you to meet your goals.
What really sets this apart is the great nutritional and health related articles that pop up to provide you with educational background as well as the community of people just like you who are trying to get healthy.
These forum members help cheer you on as you reach your goals plus you earn points for hitting those milestones, so it makes it a bit of a game while helping you lose weight.
- Available for both Android and iPhones
- Gives you a planner that helps you create lists of healthy meal options
- Allows you to scan the barcodes of your prepackaged food items to quickly input the nutritional information on your meal tracker
- There’s such a thing as too much sometimes—the info can actually get overwhelming at times
- Speaking of overwhelming, the app will inundate you with emails once you sign up
- Some reviewers have said that the app can be a bit confusing to navigate, probably because of all the bells and whistles that it provides
Most people equate losing weight with dieting and tend to forget the other part of the equation—exercise.
This app features several high-energy workout routines that can really get you moving. When you add in the app’s community support features along with the ability to take “workout classes” with your friends, it really helps you to feel like you are not in this on your own.
- Lots of options for workouts including cardio, yoga, and kettlebells
- Only free for a week; after that it costs $12.99 a month
11. Weight Watchers
This is probably the most famous name in weight loss, so chances are there’s going to be quality behind this one. And that expectation holds up with a 4.8 out of 5 star rating on iTunes.
This app works for Apple and Droid products and connects you to a community of thousands of people looking to get healthy and stay that way. Here, you can track your food intake and activity and monitor your progress by earning badges along the way with each milestone.
What really sets this one apart is when you scan a food item—the app gives you not just the nutritional value of the food but also the SmartPoints values for those food items. (For the uninitiated, Weight Watchers members track their food each day using SmartPoints.)
- Ability to sync with Apple Health so you can also get daily steps
- Great support system from one of the most established companies and customer bases in the world
- The app will add foods that customers enter to the master list of nutritional values which can clutter up the list and provide erroneous or confusing information
- Requires a paid membership to Weight Watchers for full access (offered as in-app purchases)
Weight loss may feel like a lonely prospect, but it doesn’t have to be.
There are lots of apps out there that allow you to work out alone and diet, but still share your triumphs and setbacks with people online that can motivate you and encourage you to lose the weight that you need.
Getting healthy is often a mental game as well, and the apps we’ve reviewed definitely help put you in the mental zone to shed the pounds.