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How to choose a diet and weight loss app that's right for you, according to a nutritionist

The best overall weight loss app

How to choose a diet and weight loss app that's right for you, according to a nutritionist
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The best weight loss app for those on a budget

The best weight loss app for those on a budget

Weight Watchers has helped people lose weight for decades and does a great job of making the transition to the digital age. The organization's WW app is designed to supplement its proven dietary plan by putting the resources members need right at their fingertips. That includes a massive database of rated foods using the Weight Watchers point system, putting less emphasis on calories and more on total awareness of exactly what foods you're eating.

The app includes far more features than just a food-tracking database, too. It offers more than 8,000 healthy recipes, a barcode for scanning foods at the grocery store, and the ability to get advice from a diet coach at any time. Members can also connect with one another to offer advice and encouragement, while also earning a variety of tangible rewards — such as water bottles and wireless earbuds — just for leading a healthy lifestyle.

Weight Watchers members get access to the WW app as part of their benefits but the company also offers a digital-only plan for just $19.95 per month. This provides access to all of the app's features but doesn't allow digital-only users to attend workshops and coaching sessions. All things considered, that's a reasonable price for a system proven to work well over time.

The WW app is available for both iOS and Android.

The best free weight loss app

The best free weight loss app

For those who are more comfortable managing their own dietary choices and would prefer not to pay anything at all, MyNetDiary is an excellent option. While the app does have some premium features, its free services are very good, too.

Those features include food and exercise tracking, meal planning options, graphical charts to map your progress, daily analysis of eating habits, and even access to a large and active online community. And not only are these services free but they don't require the user to create an account. That means your data stays safe and completely anonymous.

Paying for the premium version of MyNetDiary unlocks a number of other useful upgrades, as well. They include compatibility with Fitbit devices, health tracking for those who are diabetic or pre-diabetic, and personalized diet advice from a nutritionist. Those are handy to have if you need them but aren't necessary to see beneficial functionality from this app.

MyNetDiary is available for iOS and Android.

The best weight loss app for total fitness

The best weight loss app for total fitness

Most health experts will tell you the best way to lose weight is to not only watch what you eat but to ramp up your exercise routine, too. While many diet and weight loss apps focus on one side of that equation, they don't always do an adequate job of addressing the other. That's where MyFitnessPal comes in, as it encourages users to think about the things they eat, while also helping them become more active.

MyFitnessPal comes with a database of more than 11 million foods, as well as a barcode scanner for adding entries to your food log. It also includes a recipe importer for evaluating home-cooked meals, which is especially helpful when trying to get an accurate picture of your current eating habits.

Beyond those features, the app includes more than 300 cardio and strength workouts for a more well-rounded approach to your health and fitness. It even integrates with Apple's HealthKit, as well as the MapMyRun, Garmin, and Fitbit apps to more accurately track steps and workout routines.

Thanks to the MyFitnessPal online community, you'll never feel alone either. This active and knowledgeable group is excellent at providing support, advice, and encouragement to other users.

MyFitnessPal is available for both iOS and Android. It has plenty of free features but requires a $50 annual membership to get the full experience.

The best weight loss food tracking app

The best weight loss food tracking app

There are literally dozens of food tracking apps available for your smartphone but thanks to its versatility and smarts, Lose It! is our top pick. As with most of these apps, Lose It! allows users to quickly and easily input the foods they've eaten to calculate their caloric intake for the day. Those items can be selected from the app's extensive database or by scanning the barcode on a product purchased at the store.

You can even take a photo of your meals in order to get an estimate of how many calories it contains. The app includes a helpful water tracking feature that reminds you to stay hydrated throughout the day, too.

All of this functionality is included in the app for free but a basic $19.99 annual membership unlocks additional features. Those features include a built-in Fitbit-compatible activity tracker, macronutrient goal setting, and access to a detailed and powerful meal planner.

An active community of users also provides a social aspect to using the app, which can be helpful when it comes to looking for support and feedback. The app even has weight loss games and challenges to take part in as well, which do a nice job of providing extra motivation.

Lose It! is available for both iOS and Android

The best weight loss app for busy lifestyles

The best weight loss app for busy lifestyles

Generally speaking, in order to see positive gains from a weight loss app, users need to put in a good deal of effort. Remembering to log meals and snacks, keeping track of workouts, and staying on top of the latest nutritional information requires a fair amount of time in our already-busy schedules.

To make things easier, the Rise app takes a more streamlined approach. It requires a minimal amount of input from users while still providing plenty of helpful advice to assist in achieving their fitness goals.

With Rise, you won't be scanning bar codes, searching through food databases, or entering individual ingredients into the app. Instead, users just snap a photo of their meal or snack and upload it to their account. Then, a personal nutritionist reviews the photo and offers an analysis based on the goals they've set. This not only provides helpful feedback but adds a measure of accountability that goes a long way towards keeping users on track.

While Rise takes the drudgery out of the process, the simplicity that it provides comes at a price with monthly fees start at around $48 per month. This does make it pricey for a dietary service accessed through an app, though it's still much cheaper than paying for an on-call personal nutritionist — which is essentially what you get here.

Rise is available for iOS only.

The best weight loss app for at-home cooks

The best weight loss app for at-home cooks

One of the best ways to improve your health and all-around eating habits is to bring healthier, more nutritious food into your home. Fooducate is an app designed to help you do just that by keeping users informed about the benefits and drawbacks of what they eat. The app is even smart enough to suggest healthier alternatives to favorite foods, should there be other options available.

Using Fooducate is extremely easy, too. Simply scan the barcode on any product at the grocery store and it provides a letter grade for the nutritional value of that item ranging from A+ to D-. Accompanying that letter grade is an explanation of why the product received the grade it did, including valuable information about the nutritional content it offers.

The app also points out important things to be aware of, including whether or not a product contains added sugars, artificial coloring or sweeteners, or other unhealthy additives. This allows consumers to make more informed decisions at the grocery store, while also assisting with finding healthier alternatives.

Fooducate has other features beyond just scanning products at the grocery store. It also serves as a health tracker, offers insightful diet tips, and provides delicious and healthy recipes. But its engaged and active community is one of its best assets, with users sharing tips and suggestions with one another on a constant basis. That kind of support is an incredibly helpful feature for anyone struggling to eat healthier and lead a better all-around lifestyle.

Fooducate is available for both iOS and Android.

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