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Of all the challenges you will face in life, finding and sticking to a weight loss program may be just one of the hardest there is.
Even if you don’t need to lose weight, many people will follow a weight loss plan just to stay the course. In some instances, weight maintenance is just as important as weight loss.
When it comes to figuring out which weight loss or maintenance plan is best for you, it’s always best to consult with your doctor. A doctor can provide guidance on:
Once that is established, you can begin your search for the best weight loss app.
There are many of them out there, so it’s important you know what your goals are so you are able to weed out the plans that won’t be a good fit for you. (Check out this post to learn how to create SMART goals for weight loss.)
In addition to your goals, you need to factor in:
I’m not going to lie… after delivering four children via c-section within 5 years of each other, I put on a few extra pounds. As in, roughly 30 lbs between my first and last child.
Weighing in at a whopping 160 lbs at 5’1”… I was considered obese.
I didn’t particularly look “fat”, but felt it in my joint aches and pains.
My jeans crept up three sizes.
How did that happen?
It was certainly not for lack of activity… I was always on the go with four kids under the age of 6!
Cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, appointments.
What I wasn’t doing was putting myself first.
I didn’t eat well… I either skipped meals or binged later in the evening when I had time to sit down and catch my breath.
We ordered take out quite a bit.
I also made no time for myself to exercise without the kids.
Sure, I took them for walks whenever I could… I was often seen pushing the two youngest in a used double stroller I called, “Bessie”.
She was a big ol’ gal.
I even tried easing back into running with the baby in the jog stroller, whenever I could find someone to keep an eye on the other kids.
The weight just wasn’t coming off… despite my best efforts to eat low carb or try whatever fad diet a friend or family member recommended.
And then, for Mother’s Day almost two years ago, my husband signed us both up for Weight Watchers. He believed there would be strength in numbers… and there was.
Two years later, I’m down 32 lbs. And I’ve managed to maintain it.
For us, it worked because we could have whatever we wanted in moderation… alcohol included.
But what works for one person may not for you..
There are also a lot more platforms available to us now than there were two years ago… using science and behavior patterns to work with your specific body type and mentality.
So, without further adieu… my recommendations for the 8 best weight loss apps to help you reach your fitness goals!
What You Will Learn
- 1. Lumen
- 2. Noom
- 3. MyFitnessPal
- 4. HappyScale
- 5. WW (Weight Watchers)
- 6. Lose It!
- 7. FatSecret
- 8. Cronometer
- Final Thoughts on Weight Loss Apps
Lumen calls itself the first device to “hack” your metabolism.
It provides meal plan recommendations based on the type of fuel your body uses a source of energy.
The app is developed to help you consume more of the types of food your body needs and maximize the recommended activities for optimal health.
The Skinny on Lumen
Lumen’s goal is to help your body develop metabolic flexibility, which is the body’s ability to alternate between carb and fat fuel sources according to what you need at any given time.
The information you gather through the device can help you achieve your weight loss and health goals in a way that feels like you’re under the guidance of a nutritionist or health coach.
How It Works
At first glance, the device looks like a vape pen, but it actually works a lot more like a Breathalyzer. However, instead of measuring the alcohol content in a person’s breath, Lumen measures CO2 concentration.
Not too long ago, measuring your metabolism was typically performed in a clinic or hospital through a test known as respiratory exchange ratio (RER), which is a costly and time-consuming procedure.
With Lumen, you get the information you need about your metabolism right in the comfort of your own home and in real time.
For Lumen to work well, you need to commit to the process of breathing through the device for a few seconds each morning.
Lumen is designed with three main parts that work together to measure the CO2 in your breath:
After breathing through the device at least a couple of times, Lumen provides your rating between 1 and 5. The ratings can be interpreted as:
If you’ve ever been on a diet, you most likely know that we get our body’s fuel either through carbohydrates or fats. Measuring your breath through your Lumen device gives you information about whether your body is burning carbs or fats at any given time.
Through the app, Lumen then provides a personalized nutrition plan, as well as recommendations for exercise and sleep based on your current reading.
If you’re wondering about the nutrition plan that the app gives you for the day, Lumen explains its purpose in detail.
The app works with Apple Health to sync data on your movements and sleep quality.
The Weight on Your Wallet
The app is free to download, but it is important to note that you will need the accompanying device in order for it to work.
Features of the app include:
Lumen has three subscription tracks:
Each subscription track comes with the Lumen device and gives you full access to all of the app’s features.
Noom touts itself as a psychology based weight loss program.
What does this mean exactly?
Well, the belief is that you need to understand what is standing in the way of you losing weight in order to be successful at it.
Once you identify and address the problem, you can correct it and find your healthiest self.
It is a behavior modification program, which makes it quite different from any other.
In fact, the reason so many diets fail is the proverbial elephant in the room… the list of foods we shouldn’t touch. Instead, they suggest recipes or provide lists for you to check off, and hope that will do the trick.
But when has depriving yourself of anything worked long term?
It rarely does.
And that is why Noom puts the focus on breaking your bad habits rather than on the specifics of what you’re eating.
The Skinny on Noom
The app will ask you a series of questions before you can get started.
Age and sex are among these first questions, followed by your eating and exercise habits.
It’s Noom’s way of getting to know you… and why you eat the way that you do.
Once all of your information is calculated, Noom will ask for an email address to forward your customized plan to. You are then brought to a page with a graph outlining how long it will take you to reach your goal.
If you like what you see and accept the plan, you’ll be brought to a screen starting a series of additional questions that will likely shorten your plan end date.
My outlook was shortened by 1 month.
The last few questions have to deal with cognitive behavioral therapy.
How It Works
Once your plan is up and running, you’ll receive a message from a concierge coach introducing you to the program.
Typically within a few days, you’ll be paired with a coach who shares goals and struggles similar to yours. You’ll then be assigned to a group with other newcomers.
Once you’re set up with the app, you’ll gain access to:
So now for the categories.
Noom assigns colors to food types – red, yellow and green. Think of a stop light.
Green foods, like fruits and veggies, are the least calorie-dense and contain the highest concentration of healthy nutrients. You’re good to go when eating these.
Yellow foods have more calories but aren’t necessarily bad for you—think: meat and dairy. Use caution and eat in moderation.
Red foods, like processed foods and desserts, are the most calorie-dense, and the least nutrient-dense. Think twice about having too many of these.
Red foods aren’t off-limits… the app just aims to make you aware that they’re high in calories and less filling, so you can be aware of what that means for staying within your daily calorie goal.
Noom does require you access the app daily to answer questions and log your food and exercise information.
And, honestly, that is the only way you’ll find success with the program… if you are accountable for what you eat and do.
They ask for a commitment of at least 5-minutes per day to see results.
In addition to tracking your day’s activities and food choices, Noom offers real time access to fellow community members.
So, the good news is no food is taboo. The bad news is, you need to make sure you log it.
And are honest about it.
The Weight On Your Wallet
Your customized plan is emailed to you and available for 15 minutes… during which time you may accept or decline the free trial offer without having to answer the questions all over again.
On the website, Zoom is currently offering a 7-day trial for less than $1.
However, the emailed version of your plan comes with a 14-day FREE trial. I suspect the lengthier trial offer is due to the fact that they have your email address for solicitation purposes now.
Either way you go, you can cancel the trial at any time prior to its end and will not be charged.
Beyond the trial period, Noom costs $129 USD for 3 months, or $43 US per month… billed automatically until you cancel.
It’s pricier than some of the other apps, but people do swear that it works.
On average, people who use Noom and adopt a healthy lifestyle can expect to lose 1-2 lbs per week… and keep it off. This is the typical recommended rate of weight loss by doctors.
Noom is available for Apple and Android devices.
A byproduct of Under Armour, My Fitness Pal is an easy-to-use food and activity tracking app.
It works seamlessly with partner apps, such as May My Run or Map my Ride, to accurately log your fitness efforts.
The Skinny on My Fitness Pal
It’s really quite simple… sign in to the app and start tracking what you eat.
The app gives access to:
How It Works
Before you get started, you’ll be asked to enter some basic information. Things like your current weight and height, how active you are, your goal weight and desired weekly weight loss target (1 lb, 1.5 lbs or 2 lbs per week).
Based on this, the app will assign you a daily calorie goal in order to meet your expectations.
Once your daily goal has been set, begin tracking.
You can track your meals either by:
The barcode scanner is the most accurate way to track. After all, not every brand of pasta is created equal.
Similar to Noom, My Fitness Pal does provide nutritional information for much of the foods we eat, so as to help you make better choices.
But unlike Noom, you have to type in the food and break down the info… there is no color coding or point allocation to simplify things.
You can also track and earn “extra calories” for exercise, using a supported app or fitness tracker.
That or you can add your own activity. Based on your weight and time spent doing it, My Fitness Pal will calculate how many calories you burned.
Even gardening counts with My Fitness Pal.
People who have had success with the app suggest eating at least 50-60% of your earned exercise calories… as that is not only motivation to work out, but you’ll likely be hungry if you’ve just run a 5K and eaten only 700 calories for the day.
Obviously common sense comes into play here… don’t overeat if you’re not hungry; but, you definitely want to make sure you are sufficiently fueling your body for the work it’s doing. That or risk entering into starvation mode, which can actually slow down your metabolism.
The Weight On Your Wallet
My Fitness Pal is completely free for the features listed above. You won’t even be asked for a credit card to start your free 7-day trial.
There is a premium version that costs $49.00 USD for the year, billed annually after your 1-month free trial. Or you can opt to pay $9.99 USD per month after the trial.
Premium includes all of the basic features, plus:
Compared to other plans, it is a reasonable cost for the year… although the free plan seems to have most of what’s needed to get on your way.
My Fitness Pal is available for Apple and Android devices.
Happy Scale is a companion app to go along with your weight loss program. It is designed to make predictions about when you'll hit your weight goal… based on trends, not what the scale says.
The Skinny on Happy Scale
Happy Scale will help you change your relationship with the scale when you see your trend line moving down, slowly but surely, even when your scale won't budge.
If you are trying to lose (or gain) weight, sometimes you need to step on a scale to see how things are going.
But what if you didn’t have success that morning? You’d spend the whole day obsessing about it, which can add stress. And stress can lead to stress eating or laziness. The feeling of wanting to give up.
That is where Happy Scale comes in. It tracks your weight, and then tells you the big picture.
How much closer are you to your goal?
How It Works
Happy Scale provides a 10-day snapshot of your weight, starting with your 10-day best.
It knows that your weight will likely fluctuate from day to day, which can be attributed to a lot of factors. Things like what you ate that day, the last time you went to the bathroom, hormones, muscle mass you may have gained, dehydration.
There are a whole slew of things that can affect the scale… but seeing your personal best over the last 10 days first is a great way to keep your spirits up.
Happy Scale uses sophisticated math to learn the true trend of your progress.
With Happy Scale, you can break up your goal into small mini-goals or milestones. This way, you can check each one off when you hit a weight goal.
Happy Scale prides itself on visuals, breaking down your weight change into green and red areas displayed over 30 days. If you have a green section above your line, its thickness represents how much you've lost in the last 30 days. Likewise, a red section below your line represents how much you've gained in the last 30 days.
There’s also a predictor tool to determine how fast you’re losing (or gaining) weight based on your goal. Happy scale will display what you are likely to weigh in the future if you keep up with your current trends! See what you'll weigh by the first of next month, how many weeks until you hit a certain weight or what you'll weigh by a special date (premium version).
The Weight on Your Wallet
Happy Scale is free for the basic version.
There is a premium version available for $1.99 USD per month, or $11.99 for the year. A one time payment of $29.99 grants you lifetime access to premium.
Premium comes with a few additional perks, such as:
Happy Scale is currently only compatible with Apple devices.
Honestly, the cost is nominal for what you get… an app that takes the taboo out of a stubborn scale.
Considered by many as one of the pioneers in successful weight loss programs, Weight Watchers has been around since I was a kid.
We’re talking 40+ years.
I’m ok with that.
In fact, my mother and aunt would attend weekly in-person meetings together and had great success with the program… losing more than 50 lbs each and keeping it off for more than 30 years.
My mom still follows the maintenance plan.
In an effort to keep up with The Joneses, Weight Watchers (now called WW) modified its plan over the years, while keeping it’s core concepts intact.
The Skinny on WW
Weight Watchers found success in helping people to eat sensibly… as in a well-rounded diet, consisting of all food groups.
Everything in moderation is their jam.
What started as a check off system to make sure you had enough servings from each food group in your diet, has now become a point-based system that rewards you for making healthy choices.
How it Works
WW assigns point values to the food and beverages we consume.
Based on your plan choice, you are assigned a daily allowance of points.
Each plan offers a selection of zero point foods… those they deem healthy and can be eaten in abundance. Things like skinless chicken breasts, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits.
From there, points are assigned based on a calculation of their nutritional value (calores, carbs, sugars, proteins).
For instance, a beef hot dog is 6 points and 3 oz of lean sirloin steak is about 4 points. One slice of bread is 2 points and a cup of pasta is typically 5 points by itself. A light beer is 3 points and a glass of wine 4 points.
The app is free to download and has an extensive list of foods in its database, even popular restaurant menu items (like McDonald’s and Dominos).
Based on your eating preferences, the app will assign you to a color coded program to follow:
In a nutshell, if you are a carb lover and don’t want to worry about wasting 5 daily points on a medium baked potato… purple may be the best for you.
Regardless of your plan, you can roll over daily points that you don’t use (up to four) and bank them for later in the week or a splurge day. You are also allocated additional weekly points that you may use.
You can switch between plans at any time, although WW suggests spending two weeks to see how it really works for you.
Also, similar to My Fitness Pal, WW rewards you by assigning what they call Fit Points to exercise. You then have a choice of spending those Fit Points on food.
The Weight On Your Wallet
Weight Watchers offers 3 monthly membership levels:
There is usually a promotional offer for new members to waive the start up fee or the first 1-3 months.
The app is available for Apple and Android devices.
6. Lose It!
Lose It! is a calorie counter and food diary app that helps you stick to your diet and achieve weight loss success. Simply download the app, set your goals and track your food and exercise to lose weight.
Lose It! can work in conjunction with other diets – such as keto, paleo, vegan or Whole30 – or as a standalone tracking tool that provides insight on your macro, carb, protein, sugar, fat and overall calorie and food intake on a daily level.
The Skinny on Lose It!
Similarly to My Fitness Pal, Lose It! uses the proven principles of calorie counting and tracking to help you succeed. To get started, input your profile details and Lose It! will calculate the daily calorie budget best suited for you.
Then it’s just a matter of tracking your food, weight, and activity to reach your weight loss victories.
How It Works
Once you put in some basic information and your weight loss goals, Lose It! will generate a plan and date to reach your goal.
I put in 10 lbs as my weight loss goal and it generated a plan designed to lose ½ lb per week. I wasn’t given a choice to increase the rate of loss per week; however, having used other apps, I assume that eating less than the recommended daily calories will result in greater weight loss.
Once you start your plan, the platform is easy to use and the exercise and food database is rather extensive.
Like many of the other apps I covered, you can add food calories to your day that you earned via exercising… should you choose to.
The app does work in conjunction with a variety of fitness trackers… but the one negative for me was that my Fitbit Alta only worked if I upgraded to Lose It! Premium. Same goes for Garmin.
Additional features include:
The Weight On Your Wallet
Lose It! is free for the basic features. Basically this means the weight, food and exercise tracking are included.
You also have access to the barcode scanner, snap it and challenges.
The additional features such as meal planning, medical and nutritional input and advanced fitness tracker syncing requires the premium membership for $39.99 USD per year.
Don’t let the name fool you… word is getting out that this calorie counting app works.
It’s food and activity tracking made simple, with a twist.
It’s a fact that tracking what you eat helps you to achieve more weight loss… and doing it with friends can increase the results even more. FatSecret combines these to create the most powerful solution for healthy, sustainable weight loss.
The Skinny on FatSecret
FatSecret touts itself as the easiest calorie counting app out there. The food database makes it easy to find the foods you are consuming, whether you input them manually or search by popular brand or restaurant.
It instantly provides the food’s calorie, fat, carb and protein information.
How it Works
FatSecret is fast, simple to use and includes integration with external tools and services to help you succeed with your diet:
Once you register and create an account, you’ll be invited to create your own personal diet based on your eating habits and goals… or you can elect to follow a popular diet or just browse around.
From there you can search the site for diets that have helped other people, shared recipes, tips and forums you find interesting.
It’s a go-to resource for all of your diet questions. If you have a question about Keto vs Whole 30, or intermittent fasting, you’ll likely find the answer here.
With FatSecret, you’ll also get:
Probably the best feature is FatSecret Professional… which allows you to connect your dietitian, trainer, doctor, or health professional to the app to share your data with them quickly. Instead of having to bring your phone, your medical professional can be alerted to your progress as soon as it happens.
You can also sync your account online to access your info anywhere, any time.
The Weight On Your Wallet
FatSecret is free for the Calorie Counter.
An upgrade to premium provides a few enhanced features:
The cost is $9.99 USD per month.
Cronometer is an app designed to not only track your caloric intake and exercise, but to make sure you are eating foods with enough nutrients to sustain you while dieting.
Calorie reduced diets require a lot of information to perform optimally. In order to restrict caloric intake while staying healthy… users of the diet must track their vitamin, mineral, and protein intakes with great care.
That is why Cronometer aims to provide a complete solution for the smart dieter.
The Skinny on Cronometer
Once you’ve established a goal and start entering food, Cronometer uses science and algorithms to allot the proper calories, macro and micronutrients to your entries.
Your food actually has to be approved by Cronometer in order to ensure the nutritional information is accurate and reliable.
In fact, a team of experts reviews and corrects every entry before it is added to the public database. Each item also has its sources listed: from laboratory analysis, nutrition labels, or custom foods and recipes.
The app is designed to improve your overall health picture, not just your weight.
How It Works
Cronometer is less worried about the quantity of calories you consume than the quality of those calories.
In other words, when you enter a food into Cronometer, you are given not just the amount of calories it contains… but the macro and micronutrients in the food.
Macro being protein, carbs and fats.
Micro being the vitamins and minerals.
All of the metrics are laid out in an easy-to-read graphic format.
For instance, with one glance you’ll know that your body is getting enough calcium… which is essential for bone health, especially in women over 50. Or B vitamins, which many vegan and vegetarian diets lack.
The app will also track a wide range of biometrics… from weight and waist size to cholesterol levels, triglycerides, ketones, ferritin, and 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D.
You can even track blood pressure, pulse, body temperature, sleep and mood.
The combination of these factors can give you a clearer picture of your overall health than just a number on a scale.
Cronomoter works with any diet because it’s job is simple… make sure it’s nutrient rich!
The Weight On Your Wallet
Cronometer is free to use via the web, the app is $2.99 USD.
There is also a gold version, which is ad free at $5.99 USD per month, and may be worth consideration for these added features:
Final Thoughts on Weight Loss Apps
Your health is so important. Not just to your own personal well being, but for the people who love you and want to see you live your best life.
Being at an ideal weight for your age, height and body type is important… because when you are overweight, many other things can go wrong.
Being overweight can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, fatty liver disease and kidney problems.
Dieting isn’t just about looking great, but feeling that way.
It is about everything in moderation… and being active.
The 7 apps outlined here can help you with any and all of that.
If you are just looking to be held accountable for what you eat, then a simple calorie tracker like My Fitness Pal, FatSecret or Lose It! may be just what the doctor ordered.
If you need a little hand holding and have quite a bit of weight to lose, you may want to consider the apps that offer coaching and trainers like Noom or WW.
You can also use an app like Happy Scale as a companion to any of these diets… which will help take some of the stress out of weigh-in day!
Finally, if you are looking at your overall health… and are less concerned about how much you put into your body as the quality of it, then Cronometer can do wonders.
At the end of the day, the weight loss app you can stick with is the one you’ll likely find the most success with.
Just remember to never give up because you’re worth it.
Nicole Krause has been writing both personally and professionally for over 20 years. She holds a dual B.A. in English and Film Studies. Her work has appeared in some of the country’s top publications, major news outlets, online publications, and blogs. As a happily married (and extremely busy) mother of four… her articles primarily focus on parenting, marriage, family, finance, organization, and product reviews.