The smartphone in your pocket is a miracle of modern science. Its processing power is millions of times greater than that of the machines NASA used for the Moon landings, and it connects you to a worldwide network of over 3 billion people. Today’s best diet apps leverage the power of your smartphone to help you take control of your nutrition and health through better eating. We tested 10 of the most popular weight loss app choices for Android and iPhone (iOS). Here’s a breakdown of those choices, and a look at their pros and cons. While a few of the diet apps in this list are calorie counters and food diaries with added bells and whistles, we’ve made sure to include innovative and unique options as well.
Remember that the true measure of an app’s worth is if it helps you to make healthy changes. If an app doesn’t motivate you to improve your diet, it’s not much more than a time-waster.
Nutrition & diet apps for Android & iPhone
The star ratings listed in this article are based on user reviews, and not our own opinions. Note that we’ve rounded the ratings to the nearest half-star.
1. Calorie Counter & Food Diary
Calorie Counter & Food Diary by MyNetDiary is one of several popular food diary apps. To get the most out of the tool, enter your nutritional goals or weight loss goals, and use features within the app to plan your meals and monitor your adherence. Useful features include the ability to scan supermarket barcodes to get nutritional information that helps you make smart choices while grocery shopping, and the tracking of macronutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, and fat. In fact, you can track your intake of 45 separate nutrients.
What makes this app stand apart is an elegant user interface that makes entering your food intake fast and easy. This is important because people are bound to abandon a food diary app when it becomes too troublesome to use. This app also lets you track your fitness regimen, and is compatible with fitness trackers like FitBit.
For some users, cost can be a concern, because full functionality is not unlocked without an annual subscription of $40 per month.
2. Food Intolerances
Food Intolerances is focused on aiding people with allergies and food insensitivities. It’s targeted at people with conditions such as histamine intolerance, mastocytosis, fructose malabsorption, sorbitol intolerance, gluten sensitivity, and lactose intolerance. The app contains a database of hundreds of foods, and will tell you whether a particular food is compatible with your allergies or food sensitivities.
One of the app’s faults is that it doesn’t contain databases of particular products, but rather broad categories of foods. For instance, it doesn’t distinguish between Kraft’s macaroni and cheese and Annie’s brand macaroni and cheese. We also noticed that the iOS version of the app is more feature rich than the Android version.
iOS: free (full functionality requires upgrade to premium version) | 4.5 stars
Strictly speaking, water isn’t a nutrient or a food, but proper hydration is essential to your wellbeing. Waterlogged helps you make sure you’re getting enough water by allowing you to take pictures of your drinking vessels to quickly and automatically log your water intake. The app also allows you to set up reminders to drink fluids, and can help you quickly assess your hydration with handy graphs.
Weaknesses include the fact that some features require an upgrade to a premium version, and also the fact that the app is only available for iOS right now. A similar app for Android with the same basis is WaterLog.
iOS: $4.99 | 4 stars
Another popular nutrients database and diet tracker is Nutrients. Nutrients contains the nutritional info for a wide range of foods and a food journal which makes tracking your food intake simple. One favorite feature is the ability to enter your recipes, and get an instant nutritional breakdown.
One deficiency as of this writing is lack of availability on Android. Some reviewers have also complained that the nutritional browser lacks some foods, although we didn’t encounter any notable absences in our testing.
Shopwell is a standout app that helps you make healthy choices at the grocery store. Enter your fitness goals, nutritional requirements and foot sensitivities when you setup the app. Then, as you shop, you can scan the bar-codes of items you’re considering for information about the nutritional content, added sugar and sodium, and more. You can also take photo of your receipt or store loyalty/rewards card for a full analysis of all the food you’ve purchased and how well it aligns with your nutritional goals.
One drawback is that while most major grocery stores do participate, some favorites, like Trader Joe’s are absent.
6. Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal
Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal is oriented toward weight loss, and is one of the more popular apps for tracking your food intake. It’s got a database of 5,000,000 foods and dishes you can use to quickly log your meals, and the user interface is simple and intuitive. One disadvantage is that some of the most useful features require a subscription of $10 per month or $50 per year.
7. MyPlate Calories Tracker
MyPlate Calories Tracker is full-featured subscription-based diet app. It contains a nutritional database of 2 million items, and includes the ability to track calories, macronutrients and water intake, and see if you’re meeting your diet goals. You can also generate graphs and charts that help you to visualize and assess your food habits.
While their nutritional database is large, it’s not as comprehensive as the aforementioned app MyFitnessPal’s Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker. And unlike MyNetDiary’s Calorie Counter & Food Diary, you cannot track exercise. Like both those tools, full functionality requires a subscription ($9.99 per month or $44.99 per year).
8. Fitocracy Macros
iOS: free | Rating: 3.5 stars
Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. Many nutritionists recommend that health-conscious individuals aim for a healthy diet with the right ratio of these “macros”. Fitocracy Macros allows you to track your input of these macronutrients in addition to your caloric intake. While tracking of macronutrients is a feature in some of the other apps we looked at, in this app they are the focus.
One drawback is that you need to check the macronutrients content of your meals and enter these figures manually. Another is that the app is currently only available for iOS. Android apps with similar functionality include Simple Macro and Calorie Counter – Macros.
9. Carbs Control
As its name suggest, Carbs Control is designed to help you monitor your carbohydrates, and may be a good choice for diabetics or those on low-carb diets. You can track daily carb intake, as well as look at a meal-by-meal breakdown. As you look up the carbs totals of the food you eat, a food diary is created automatically. Its database of 100,000 foods is not as large as some of the subscription nutrition apps we described. But for a single payment of $2.99, it’s considerably less expensive.
Carbs Control may be a good food diary choice for those who don’t need all the features of costlier subscription apps, or for those who are especially focused on carbs and aren’t as concerned about monitoring other nutrients.
Want more local health news, wellness tips, recipes, and more? Subscribe to the Kaiser Permanente Washington newsletter.