The 5 Best Calorie Tracking Apps for 2021

We all know that we need to eat fewer calories than we burn to lose weight. But how do you know how many calories you should be eating to reach your weight loss goal?  The good news is that there are numerous apps that will help you create a caloric budget, track your caloric intake, and lose weight after consistent use.  The bad news is that there are a ton of calorie-tracking apps on the market, making it challenging to know which one to choose.

Luckily, as a health coach, I have worked with hundreds of clients who have used calorie-tracking apps to lose significant amounts of weight, many losing over 100 lbs.   Within this article, I will share the 5 calorie-tracking apps that my clients have used most often to achieve weight loss success.  By the end of this article, you will have an understanding of the best 5 calorie-tracking apps, and you will be able to decide which one is the best fit for you.   

  1. Lose It! 

Description: 

Lose It! is an app that focuses on helping people set goals, track their food, and lose weight.  This app has been on the market since 2008 and has served more than 40 million members.  Due to its longevity and many users, Lose It! has the most extensive food database out of all apps reviewed in the article.  You can input the foods you eat by searching the app’s database or using the barcode scanner to enter packaged items.  Lose It! saves the food you enter most frequently so that you can effortlessly search and document them.  

You can also enter the food you eat by taking a picture of it.  The app’s Snap It feature allows you to track your caloric intake and estimate your portion sizes by merely taking a picture of your meal.  In addition to the app’s calorie tracking features, Lose It! generates daily and weekly reports and allows you to track your weight on a graph over time.

Co-author of Weight Lost: 5 Steps To Achieving Your Ideal Weight And Gaining The Life You’ve Always Wanted, Katy Cabbage, has used LoseIt! for nearly a decade and has lost over 140 lbs and kept it off.  One of her favorite aspects of Lose It! is the “multiple visual options for tracking your food intake.”  Lose It! allows you to toggle between visual depictions of your calories in / calories out and your macronutrient intake over a day, week, or longer. 

Key Features:

  • Database of over 33 million foods 
  • Barcode scanner 
  • Daily and weekly reports
  • Weight tracking graph 
  • Track food intake and portions by taking pictures 
  • Syncs with Apple Health and Google Fit 

Cost: 

  • App- $0
  • Basic membership – $0
  • Premium membership:
    • Monthly subscription- $9.99
    • Annual subscription- $39.99 

2. MyFitnessPal 

Description: 

MyFitnessPal helps users track their food intake, exercise output, and progress towards their weight loss goal. The MyFitnessPal app focuses on making sure people can log their meals quickly and easily.  The app accomplishes this by remembering what you’ve eaten most often and making it easy for you to repeatedly add those foods to your log.  As a result, the more often your record your food, the easier it will be to track your food over time.  The app also allows you to use a bar scanner to quickly enter packaged food items into your log.  Similar to Lose It! MyFitnesspal has an extensive food database, with many restaurant foods included.  

I’ve used MyFitnesspal with success in the past, and one of my most favorite components of the app is the recipe builder.  The recipe builder allows you to save recipes of typical meals that you may eat frequently and have numerous ingredients, such as a protein shake.  As a result, you can just pull up “protein shake” in your database rather than having to enter each ingredient; milk, whey, banana, etc., every time you want to log your shake.  This feature makes logging much more efficient.  

Key Features:

  • Database of over 11 million foods 
  • Barcode scanner 
  • Daily pie chart summary of nutrients 
  • Weight tracking graph 
  • Message board to connect with other users 
  • Recipe building tool 
  • Syncs with several fitness tracking apps like Fitbit, Garmin, and Jawbone 

Cost: 

  • App- $0
  • Basic membership – $0
  • Premium membership:
    • Monthly subscription- $9.99
    • Annual subscription- 49.99 

3.  WW

Description: 

The WW app, formally known as Weight Watchers, is the most unique app on this list.  WW uses a SmartPoints system to help people track their food intake rather than by tracking calories.  Like other food tracking apps, WW helps users set a weight loss goal, but rather than assigning a caloric budget, the WW app sets a specific amount of “points” for a person to stay under each day.  For the most part, these points correlate with the number of calories in foods; however, the SmartPoints system includes ZeroPoint foods such as fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.  

If you are a fan of WW recipes, this app is certainly worth investigating as it offers users over 8,000 WW-approved recipes.  Additionally, if you like the WW system but prefer not to attend in-person meetings, using the app is an excellent way to gain social support through the app’s social networking feature and gain access to 24/7 live coaching.  

Key Features:

  • Works on a “points” based system rather than calories 
  • Barcode scanner 
  • Provides access to over 8,000 WW approved recipes 
  • Weight tracking graph 
  • Access to WW social network and live coaching 

Cost: 

  • App- $0
  • Basic membership – $3.22 per week 
  • Premium membership- $12.69 per week 

4.  Cronometer

Description: 

Cronometer is used by over 3.5 million people worldwide and focuses on providing the most accurate, comprehensive nutritional information.  This app allows you to track your food intake, macronutrient information, exercise, and weight.  The Cronometer philosophy is based on the idea that to restrict calories, lose weight, but remain healthy; people must track their vitamins, minerals, and protein intake.  With this in mind, the Cronometer database allows users to track up to 82 micronutrients from over 300,000 foods.  However, if you can’t find the food you are eating in the Chronometer database, you can always enter it with confidence using the bar scanner feature.    

In addition to food tracking, Cronometer helps users track their weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure over time.  The app also features an online forum for discussing nutrition, and it syncs with several fitness trackers, including Fitbit and Garmin.  

One of the unique features of Cronometer is that it allows you to upload photos of your body to create before and after comparisons, using its Snapshots feature.   Snapshots also allow users to estimate their body fat percentage by simply uploading a picture of themselves.  

Key Features:

  • Database of over 300,000 foods 
  • Barcode scanner 
  • Focused on optimal nutrient intake 
  • Weight tracking graph 
  • Upload photos of your body to compare changes over time and estimate your body fat percentage 
  • An online forum to engage in nutrition-based discussions 
  • Track your cholesterol and blood pressure over time 
  • Syncs with several fitness tracking apps like Fitbit and Garmin

Cost: 

  • Basic membership – $0
  • Premium membership:
    • Monthly subscription- $5.99
    • Annual subscription- $34.95

5.  SparkPeople

Description: 

SparkPeople supports users to track their food consumption, exercise output, and weight.  Their app emphasizes usability, exercise demonstrations, and wellness education.  

With a database of over 2 million foods, users can easily search for the food they are using or scan in the packaged food they are consuming using the barcode scanner.  Out of all the apps described in this article, SparkPeople has the most extensive educational materials collection.  The app offers hundreds of easy to read articles that provide information about diet and exercise.  Not finding the information you are looking for in an article?  Not to worry,  SparkPeople also provides support for specific questions from its community of members and experts.  

A standout component of the SparkPeople app is its exercise demonstrations.  This library offers photos and descriptions of numerous popular exercises to gain confidence in performing the exercise correctly.    

Key Features:

  • Database of over 2 million foods 
  • Barcode scanner 
  • Exercise demo videos  
  • Earn “points” by logging your daily habits 
  • Interactive online community  
  • Access to health and fitness articles 

Cost: 

  • Basic membership – $0
  • Premium membership:
    • Monthly subscription- $4.99

Summary 

Although there are dozens and dozens of calorie-tracking apps on the market today, these are the five that my clients have used most often to lose significant amounts of weight.  The bottom line is that if you track your calories and stay within your caloric budget, you will lose weight.  However, finding an app that suits your needs can make it tolerable or maybe even exciting to track your food intake each day.  

The table below encompasses some of the features you may want to consider when choosing the right app for you.  

App NameFood database Barcode Scanner Weight tracking graph Unique Feature Basic Cost Premium Cost
Lose It! 33 millionYesYesTrack portions by taking pictures $0$9.99 per month 
MyFitnessPal11 millionYesYesRecipe building tool $0$9.99 per month
WWUnpublishedYesYesWW approved recipes $3.22 per week$12.69 per week
Cronometer300,000YesYesUse photos to estimate body fat percentage$0$5.99  per month
Sparkpeople2 million YesYesExercise video demos $0$4.99  per month

Although tracking your calories can be a useful catalyst for generating weight loss results, there is a lot more to generate sustainable weight loss.  If you are interested in learning how tracking your calories can become part of a more comprehensive plan that leads to meaningful and durable weight loss results, I suggest that you pick up a copy of my book; Weight Lost: 5 Steps To Achieving Your Ideal Weight And Gaining The Life You’ve Always Wanted.

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