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5 best smartphone apps for tracking calories

While there are plenty of schools of thought on the best diet for weight loss, most nutritionists and personal trainers will tell you to start with one simple principle: Calories in versus calories out. If you can get a handle on how many calories you are consuming and burning each day, you might find your pants loosening within a matter of weeks. These quick and concise smartphone apps make calorie counting a breeze.

1. MyFitnessPal

My Fitness Pal
Image: iTunes

A worldwide favorite based on reviews on iTunes and the Android Play Store, MyFitnessPal has a food database that contains 750,000 foods, from fresh veggies to packaged frozen dinners. Tracking your calories with foods in the database also lets you track nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, fiber and other crucial dieting elements. As a plus, it’s also a fitness tracker. Add in those calories you burned on the treadmill and MyFitnessPal will subtract them from your daily total. The app is available on iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone.

Users say: “Usually when something is free, you get what you pay for. Not this app. It does all of the basic things you would want in a weight loss app and more. I have yet to type in a food and it not pop up as an option. It integrates smoothly with Fitbit, often updating more than my Fitbit app. Are there a few things that could be better, like being able to delete a food from the list of foods you ate at a meal or more body measurements to track? Sure, but I’ve been using it for a month and none of those has hindered my usage. Maybe those things are in the premium version, but I’m quite satisfied with the free app. I’m wondering why I paid for Weight Watchers every month when MyFitnessPal was here for free all along.”

Price: Free

More: 5 best apps for home workouts that you can download for free

2. Calorie Counter by FatSecret

Calorie counter
Image: iTunes

Calorie Counter by FatSecret is another calorie-counting app with a large database, bar-code scanner, fitness tracker and more, but it has an added benefit for long-term weight-loss goals. This app also has a journal where you can write about your past downfalls, future plans and how to reach your goals. Hey, getting it out on paper (even if it’s digital) always helps. Calorie Counter by FatSecret is available on iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.

Users say: “Having so many foods in its database really makes it easy to enter calorie information. The barcode reader makes it so very simple when cooking at home. Almost addictive to use. Highly recommended.”

Price: Free

More: 7 Apps that will turn exercise into a heart-pumping game

3. Lose It!

Lose it
Image: iTunes

Track your calories, plus get a little something extra with Lose It! This all-in-one weight-loss app has a large food database, but also features a bar-code scanner, which allows you to get calorie content from any scannable packaged food in your pantry. Turn those items into low-calorie recipes with the app’s recipe builder. It’s totally free and available on iPhone and Android.

Users say: “I love how this app lets me know the balance of calories I have left after exercising, as well as letting me adjust my calorie target level. I have used this app twice in the past 10 years to lose weight — the first time 45 pounds, the second 80 pounds. I know about how many calories I need to be below in a week in order to lose weight, and this app lets me know how many below I am for the week. It averages out over the week, so if I make poor choices a day or two, I can usually get ‘caught up’ by exercising more or eating less or both.”

Price: Free

Next Up: HealthyOut

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