If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, build muscle or simply eat more healthily, you’ll know that keeping track of your calorie, fat, protein and sugar intake can be a full time job. Throw in meal planning, cooking for partners and kids and eating out with friends and the temptation to throw the towel in is all too real – which is where a calorie counter comes in.
Don’t despair. The answer could lie, quite literally, in your hands right now. Yes, we know the befuddling array of figures, tables and pie charts on the App Store might make them seem like just another thing you don’t have time to faff around with, but hear us out, because the right diet app might just make achieving your goals feel a hundred times easier.
Read on for our pick of the best food diary and calorie counter apps around…
Best Food Diary App: See How You Eat
You’ve seen it on TV: the dieter who can’t understand why they can’t seem to shed those extra lbs is confronted by a table heaving with the foods they actually eat in a day. It’s all too easy to underestimate our daily calorie intake, to mentally discount those chips you swiped from your partner’s plate or to forget that, yes, your customary morning latte/after dinner glass of red does count. And that’s where food diary apps come in.
Scientific evidence suggests that keeping a food diary can double (yes, double!) weight loss. And what’s even better than a food diary? A food diary which confronts you with the visual evidence of everything you’ve eaten in a day, on a single page of your smartphone, of course. The free See How You Eat app, available on iOS and Android, allows you to track your daily food intake with snaps of everything you eat. Resist the temptation to cheat and it’ll be the best motivational tool at your disposal.
Emotional eater? Track your triggers with Rise Up. Designed for eating disorder patients and based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the free app encourages you to track not only what you’ve eaten, but where you were, who you were with and how you were feeling.
Best Calorie Counter App: Nutracheck Calorie Counter +
Most calorie counting apps are aimed at US users, but this one is targeted squarely at a UK audience. It allows you to search for foods and meals from tons of UK supermarkets and restaurants and to scan foods by barcode. It will also help you set calorie and nutrient intake goals based on your height, weight, activity levels and personal goals. You can choose to track your daily sugar, protein, carbohydrate, salt, fat or saturated fat intake alongside your daily calorie tally.
Best Nutrition App: MyFitnessPal
Chances are you’ve already heard of MyFitnessPal. It’s the most popular diet app around, and for good reason. Although it was originally designed for American users, it will read the barcodes of most of the foodstuffs you can pick up in UK supermarkets, and lists nutrition information for dishes at UK restaurants like Pizza Express and ASK Italian. Serious about nutrition? This free app is no simple calorie tracker. Oh no – it tracks the fibre, sugar, fat, saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, vitamin A and C, calcium and iron content of your meals, drinks and snacks, too.
Best Diet App: Diet Point · Weight Loss
Food tracking and calorie counting are all very well, but what if you need a helping hand figuring out what to eat in the first place? Enter Diet Point · Weight Loss. This app provides more than 130 weight loss diet plans with quick and tasty breakfasts, lunches and dinners to suit your goals and dietary preferences, from low carb, paleo and low GI to blood type-based plans. Some plans are free, but going ‘pro’ gives you access to weekly shopping lists (with automatic adjustments for the number of people you’re cooking for) and additional plans.
Best Motivational App: My Diet Coach
Do you work better when you have encouragement to reach your goals? My Diet Coach helps you focus on making small but effective lifestyle changes by giving you challenges, such as drinking more water parking your car further away from your destination than usual to make you walk more. This app also gives you visual encouragement with a weight tracker that lets you ‘see’ your body shape change gradually. You can even use motivational photos to encourage you to stay on track.