the 10 best calorie counter websites and apps

Michael Mc Laughlin, SATI STAFF

Keeping tabs on how many calories you consume is an important part of any weight loss program. It can be hard to remember everything you eat and having to write it down at the end of the day is a burden. Modern technology is making the process of tracking calories more convenient. It is in your interest to count calories, and studies have shown that those who do have greater weight loss success. One of the benefits of monitoring your calorie intake is that you pay more attention to what you are eating. You know that at the end of the day you will be faced with a total that you will have to atone for. A lot of the time we eat snack food by reflex as our mood dips or when our hunger is triggered by stimulus in the environment. Websites and apps are making it easier to stay on top of what you eat allowing you to keep well below the daily recommended calorie intake. Here are ten of the best apps currently on the market to help you keep tabs on your calories.

1. My fitness pal

My Fitness Pal (MFP) has been instrumental in many people’s weight loss campaigns. The app works well as it makes counting calories very easy. You simply log on to the app via an iPhone or Android phone, and you are ready to go. One of the benefits described by users is the sense of community that you feel by engaging with other calorie counters an aspect that keeps members actively involved some stating that they have made some close friends on the app. Studies have shown, that the effect of peer group support on your weight loss goals is crucial (1). A lot of the time people can’t find support in their friend’s group—many of who do not share the same lifestyle goals. That’s why a calorie counting app with a community built around it works wonders. Members log on and share tips and advice, and it motivates them to use the app more regularly. The food search function on the website is very handy. You type in Mcdonalds chicken nuggets, and within seconds you have the full nutritional information: shockingly six solitary nugget is 300 calories—one hour walking on a treadmill for a 155-pound person (2).

2. Lose it

When you visit the website of Lose It the first thing you come across is the large number in the middle of the screen—55,332,998. That’s the 55.3 million calories that users of the calorie counter have lost. An impressive statistic and one that would keep a dieter motivated. Basic social psychology tells you that groups are more motivated than individuals if the goal is shared. Motivated individuals working together will achieve better results than working alone (3). There are three ways to tracks calories: search it, scan it, or snap it. By searching, you can search their database of over 7 million foods, or you can scan a label to reveal the nutritional content. The third option is to take a picture of the food—how easy is that? They even have a premium membership that gives you access to personalized plans, with recipes, and in-depth analysis for those serious about tracking their performance. The downside to the app is that It is hard to log home-cooked meals and calculate their nutritional value. Moreover, the app can be hard to navigate and is a touch tricky to get used to. Unfortunately, Lose it does not track micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) but there is an option to track macronutrients but only if you pay for the premium package.

3. Fatsecret

The FatSecret app secures a place in our top ten list of calorie counters for a number of reasons. First, 35 million people are already using it. And, for a community-based app like this, there is strength in numbers. It means that the company is not going to close down anytime soon and your data is secure. Importantly, there is an active community which will give you a greater chance to find support if you need it and discuss weight loss topics. Second, the app comes with a food diary to record not just the calories but the recipes you have used and how you felt. Also, there is an extensive database of healthy recipes for you to choose from tailor-made for weight loss. Another database provides comprehensive nutritional information for a wide range of foods. Make use of handy and easy to understand charts that illuminate your progress keeping you motivated to sustain your dietary goals. The easy to use app is available from the Apple Store, Google Play, Blackberry, and Windows. Keep your calorie counting sidekick in your pocket and conveniently monitor your daily consumption(4). The app is free to use and is easy to download no matter what smartphone you have.

4. Cron-o-meter

Reduced calorie diets are difficult; nobody can deny that. Luckily, tons of research shows that you’re more likely to stick to a diet plan if you have the support from like-minded people—you will eat healthier and exercise harder; you’ll drop more pounds and keep them off. Some dieters rely on family and friends for support, but many are now turning to their computers and smartphones. Cron-o-meter is useful because it also tracks biometric data, exercise, diet, and routines with the click of a button. On their website they have a list of the most popular foods; topping the charts are raw bananas, raw apples, and ripe red tomatoes. Each contains vitamins and are low in fat (5). The app offers accurate serving sizes and includes a large exercise database. There is also a tailored section for pregnant and lactating women, based on the higher calories needed during pregnancy. Moreover, they have a nice blog that keeps users up-to-date with upgrades and new features. For calorie counting aficionados there is a Gold upgrade for less than $3 per month that includes no ads, advanced analysis, and some extra features. A nice advantage of Cron-o-meter is that you can sync data from other health devices and wearables to the app and import your weight, body fat percentage, sleep, and activities.

5. Sparkpeople

One stat that hits you when you visit their website is the amount of food in their database: 2 million. That, I’m sure covers any food you are likely to come across. A personalized fitness program is on offer. With Cron-o-meter there is even opportunity to integrate data retrieved from wearable technology to get a more accurate data profile.The free version has one of the biggest food and nutrition databases on the internet, but you have to upgrade your account to gain access to many of the other features. Find answers to your weight loss questions in the support section where nutritionists and fellow dieters are live and ready to help you out. You cannot put a price on having such quick response rates to common queries. Included on the website is a number of expert fitness videos and programs which can help you get inspired to lose weight from a new perspective. However, all this great data might have a downside as some readers might experience information overload. If you are new to health fitness and websites you might be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data on SparkPeople. It is a testament to the quality of the app that over 16 million members have registered with over 7 million unique visitors per month (6).

6. Noom coach

Noom is out to change behaviors and change lives as their brand slogan goes. And, they are having tremendous success with more than 45 million members—the same population as Spain. Impressive statistic and it alludes to how international they have become. Language options on the app include English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, and German with members from Canada to Tokyo. This international network is important as if you reside in South Korea it is helpful to have people from the same country to answer region specific questions about food. On their website, they mention that it takes an average of 16 weeks to form a habit (7). That is an interesting point to note as most people lose interest after just one or two months of starting something new. Knowing that after four months the new practice or routine will be cemented is something to aim for. Their app has been featured in the New York Times, Women’s Health, and TechCrunch and includes a pedometer, an exercise log, and a food diary. Tracking your food intake is uncomplicated — the app has comprehensive search options along with a barcode scanner and the ability to custom-create food and calorie counts. Each food is labeled green—filling and low in calories— yellow, or red.

7. Mynetdiary

The first thing you notice when you visit the website of MyNetDiary is the impressive stats that describe the accomplishments of the company. An array of 755,000 foods is available in their database a figure that should account for the average individual’s diet. MyNetDiary has one the best premium services of any of the apps. The Pro upgrade comes equipped with a higher-quality barcode scanner as well as many options to track health oriented measurements, for instance, sleep duration and blood pressure. Users who are concerned about vitamin or mineral malnourishment can track up to 30 nutrients, including calcium, fiber and iron. Additionally, there are functional charts for watching long-term trends and even a section for keeping track of medications (8). A “food check” feature lets you read nutrition information and food grades to compare before eating. Users of this app lose on average 1.4 lb per week that is the same weight as 202 tea bags (9). For those new to calorie counting technology, they offer a risk-free two-week trial, so if you don’t like what you see, you can cancel your subscription and still get a refund. The free version is available on Android and at the Apple store. But, for $3.99 the pro version is a class above.

8. Weight watchers mobile

Studies have proven that keeping a food diary doubles diet weight loss (10). Bear in mind that in order to have full access to this app, you need to subscribe to Weight Watchers Online or eTools — which unfortunately costs money. But, if you are desperately trying to lose weight and keep it off, the Weight Watchers program is considered one of the best in the market, so it may just be worth the small investment; health is wealth. On Google Play the app is rated four stars out of five with almost 75,000 five star reviews. They pride themselves on the social element of the app where users can upload pictures and connect easily with weight watchers in their area. One of the unique and helpful features of Weight Watchers Mobile is the cheat sheets. Did you have a slice at the local pizza place? Get a precise estimate for the number of points it was based on a typical slice of pizza with the toppings you ordered. The site’s content is useful too with success stories, weight loss tips, and informative articles that are easily viewable on the app and encourage you to stay motivated. The accessible and interactive charts make it easy to visualize your progress.

9. Shroomies nutrition menu

This might not seem like a calorie counting site but something psychedelic. Fitness Magazine calls it the mother of all iPhone calorie counters. It was also selected as an Apple staff favorite. It claims to have the largest nutritional information database on App Store without an Internet connection. The exercise feature is handy too with over 149 built-in exercises to help you burn more calories. As the day closes to an end, you can view your daily summary with fancy pie charts indicating how many calories you consumed and burned, as well as listing the food and exercises you got through during the day. You can input daily notes, track your weight with comprehensive graphs, and even email the journal to yourself and import it into a printable spreadsheet. The app gives you a daily total food score based on your achievement on that day. No Internet communication means fast access to information and no dependence on the speed of the local internet network. Nutrition info comprises calories, fat, carbs, fiber, serving size, protein, cholesterol, sodium, and sugars. However, despite the size of the database it can be somewhat difficult to find some non-restaurant foods, so you may find yourself using the custom food feature frequently.

10. Nutrition menu

When you start with HAPIcoach, you’ll get to interact with a professional coach who will follow your weight loss progress from the very beginning. Snap photos and share them with the community or directly with an expert for his appraisal. Post ten meals in 5 days, and you will be rewarded with a free analysis from your coach. All of their coaches have a mixture of UK and international credentials in nutrition combined with many years of experience in providing personalized nutritional coaching (11). You might have even seen HAPILABS in top tier media like CNN, BBC News, and TechCrunch. Their program was designed for top athletes and entrepreneurs /CEOs who want to increase their stamina, competitiveness, and level of performance. They promise an improvement of up to 45% in performance directly related to 5 factors that ensure the proper and full functioning of your brain: breathing, nutrition, detoxification, relaxation and emotional management. This has been demonstrated by the latest studies in applied neuroscience. It is on these foundations that they created the program that will take your conditioning to the next level. In every athletic activity and any significant event in your life, your body builds up nervous and emotional shocks and accumulates traces of wear, injuries, and fatigue (12). With Dr. Yann Rougier’s DELTA-PERFORMANCE method, your body will reprogram itself entirely to be in optimum condition before the next big deadline.

The Sati line

We can all agree that weight loss is not easy and it’s not fun. Humans are hardwired to crave sugar and fat (13). To deny those urges is to deny a very strong core human drive. But luckily humans work well in groups, and we are motivated by common goals. With the invention of calorie counting apps, individual weight watchers have an opportunity to share the pain and distress of dieting. A problem shared is a problem halved, and in this case, the community built around these convenient apps make it easier to both share the pain and educate yourself through peer information exchange. Regular users build friendships, and it is this that keeps them engaged and motivated. The personalized programs, illuminating graphs, and cutting edge technology help you achieve your goals, but it is the community of people that will keep you coming back.