How to choose a diet and weight loss app that's right for you, according to a nutritionist
- Using a weight loss app helps you keep track of your food habits and promotes healthy and sustainable changes to your lifestyle.
- The best apps don't just let you track your food intake but provide insightful feedback from nutritionists and wellness experts that help you develop and maintain healthier diets.
- We spoke to nutrition expert, Samantha Cassetty, about what everyone should look for in a weight loss app, and how they can contribute to positive changes in your health.
Let's face it - when life hits a few bumps in the road, so, too, do our diets and food habits. As more people transition to a work from home lifestyle, the new normal of spending an inordinate amount of time confined to their homes and home offices takes some getting used to. There are shifts in work production, alterations of one's sleep and exercise habits, and drastic changes to what, when, and how food is consumed.
For many people, this change leads to eating habits and schedules that are less healthy than they're typically accustomed to, making it challenging to stay focused on their health and fitness goals. Thankfully, there are plenty of excellent resources a mere smartphone app away designed to help us stay on track - no matter how difficult it might seem.Both Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store are filled with apps offering the promise of losing weight and eating healthier. But wading through the choices can be both difficult and time-consuming, as even the best apps may not be right for everyone.
"There are many free and paid apps to help you learn how to eat more healthfully," Cassetty told Business Insider. "The most important thing is to find one that supports a variety of healthful foods in balanced amounts that are right for your needs."
Finding a weight loss app for youUsing a smartphone to track your diet isn't a new idea. In fact, some of the earliest apps on the App Store were aimed at helping iPhone users eat healthier. After all, we carry our mobile devices with us everywhere, making them ideal for providing insights and advice on what we should be buying at the grocery store or ordering at a restaurant.
Some of the apps that are available even create extensive meal plans, provide diet and exercise routines, or offer consultations from dietitians and nutritionists. Others simply track what we're eating in order to raise awareness of the calories we're taking in. Cassetty says there are benefits to both and that even basic food trackers are valuable."Free tools allow you to track your food intake, which is a form of self-monitoring that's been found helpful for reaching or maintaining a comfortable weight," she said. "They can also expose when you might be grazing or over-snacking, which happens when you're spending more time working at home with a stocked kitchen."
Don't rely entirely on the app to make healthy changesWhile Cassetty does find plenty of value in the use of smartphone apps to track dietary intake, she also urges caution, saying that "unless you're getting the tools and information you need to make lasting changes, it's unlikely that you'll be able to maintain any weight you've lost."
She recommends working on developing an understanding of how to balance meals so they fill you up while tasting great at the same time. She also stresses the importance of developing healthier coping strategies rather than turning to food when we're bored, stressed, anxious, depressed, or even happy.
"Rather than focus on a goal weight, I think a better way to go is to focus on small steps you can take to create healthier habits," Cassetty said. "Examples include, limiting soda, upping your veggie intake at lunch and dinner, cooking an extra meal or two, drinking more water, and aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep each night."Those are words of wisdom, no doubt, but Cassetty also expressed the importance of cutting ourselves some slack when things get especially stressful and difficult.
"I think it's important to be flexible and compassionate with yourself during these challenging times," she added. "You may not be able to eat as well as you'd like or maintain your healthy routines, and that's alright. As long as you're putting in some effort - versus none at all - it's a step in the right direction."
Here are our top picks for the best weight loss apps:
- Best overall weight loss app: Noom
- Best weight loss app for those on a budget: Weight Watchers
- Best free weight loss app: MyNetDiary
- Best weight loss app for total fitness: MyFitnessPal
- Best weight loss food tracking app: Lose It!
- Best weight loss app for busy lifestyles: Rise
- Best weight loss app for at-home cooks: Fooducate
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