- Nutrition tracking apps are helpful tools for learning about nutrition and your eating habits.
- Food tracking apps can keep you motivated and mindful about your food choices using self-monitoring tools and interactive features.
- Some food tracking apps can be a tool to track progress as you work with a registered dietitian.
Food tracking apps are interactive tools for self-monitoring dietary intake and physical activity. They can be used to set goals, track progress, and make positive changes in lifestyle habits related to health and nutrition.
The growth of health-related technology means you have many more options to choose from. Some apps have all the bells and whistles (and cost more), while others are free and help with basic guidance.
The best app for you is the one you'll use continuously and remains a positive source of motivation (versus something that makes you feel guilty or obsessive about food and nutrition). Below you'll learn about 5 of the best food-tracking apps and how these tools can help you reach your nutrition goals.
Why Use a Food Tracking App?
The primary reason to use a food tracking app is to keep you accountable and mindful of choices. Tracking food is an eye-opening experience for some people who suddenly see patterns such as snacking between meals when not hungry or in the evening after dinner.
Setting daily nutrition goals—like meeting specific macronutrient percentages or reaching a certain amount of fiber—also helps with motivation, especially when you can see your progress each day.
Studies on weight loss and health behavior change suggest that people who track food and remain mindful of intake tend to be more successful in reaching their goals. Tracking doesn't even have to mean calorie counting. Simply being aware and thinking about what you're eating can help you understand diet patterns, set goals, improve knowledge, and develop the confidence to continue health-promoting habits.
Apps provide a convenient, fun, interactive way to do this (versus the old-fashioned hand-written food journal). Here are 5 of the best food-tracking apps to consider.
5 Best Food Tracking Apps
This app is one of the most popular choices for tracking food and activity levels. You can set nutrition goals for individual nutrients or foods you're trying to limit, like sodium or saturated fat.
MyFitness Pal has an extensive food database (including restaurant nutrition info) and connects to many other health and nutrition apps and devices to create a hub for your health information tracking. Recommendations are personalized within the app once you take a quiz asking questions about age, weight, height, and health goals (keep in mind these plans don't consider all the factors that go into your nutrition and calorie needs, so they may not be exactly correct for you).
MyFitness Pal also has a large community of users which some find helpful as studies show that social support and connection are critical for health behavior change. The free version provides basic features for tracking, and the paid option gives you the barcode scanner and allows more customization and recipe suggestions that fit within your goals.
Weight loss is the primary goal of Lose It, but the app can be a good choice for anyone looking for a simple but effective way to track their nutrition. It includes an extensive database of foods and a barcode scanner.
Aside from calories or weight, you can also follow other health markers like fluid intake or blood pressure. It can sync with apps like Apple Health and Google Fit for more comprehensive activity tracking. Loseit also offers a fun feature where you can track food by taking photos of your meals.
Its free version is helpful for basic tracking, but if you want access to more features, like personalized plans or feedback on your intake, you can upgrade to the paid version. Like MyFitnessPal, Loseit has a community support aspect where you can connect to other users and support each other. This app encourages regular weight check-ins, so it may not be a good choice for people with body image issues or any history of disordered eating habits.
The MyPlate Calorie Counter app from Livestrong is a good option for those who want to track but also need ideas on what to eat. Like other apps, MyPlate includes a barcode scanner, calorie counting, macro counting, and tracking metrics like steps and water intake. It also provides several 8-week meal plans for various food patterns created by a registered dietitian. It even suggests healthy recipes and restaurants nearby that offer food to fit within your goals.
Nourish accepts most popular insurance carriers and can connect you with a dietitian to create a personalized nutrition plan. If you're interested in taking the next step in your health journey, consider booking a virtual appointment with a Registered Dietitian.
The free version gives you access to all the tracking features you need, plus the meal plans. You can access eye-pleasing graphs and charts to track goals and stay motivated. A "gold" membership gives you access to more recipes, at-home workouts, a private community, and several other perks.
Lifesum calls itself a "self-care" app that allows users to track food, exercise, and health habits. This app also offers an extensive recipe and food database, with simple meal plans and grocery lists to get users started (although the plans aren't personalized, so you may need to adjust them to fit your needs).
Lifesum also provides scores for food or meals to assess nutrient density, and you can easily see the macronutrient breakdown of each meal. The app offers a weekly "Life Score" that evaluates nutrition and exercise tracking to recognize achievements and provide suggestions for improvement.
Barcode scanning and app integration are also offered with Lifesum. Most features require a paid subscription, with options to join monthly, quarterly, or annually.
This food tracker differs slightly from the apps listed above as it allows users to connect food with symptoms like headaches, skin rashes, gastrointestinal issues or fatigue that appear after meals. This is helpful for those managing food sensitivities, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or any health conditions where food can impact how you feel. It also allows you to track sleep, medications, menstrual cycles, bowel movements, and mood.
Calorie or macro counting is not a feature of MySymptoms. Instead, it can be used as a tool to understand what foods you may be sensitive to and identify patterns of symptom flare-ups. Users can easily download a PDF of their journal and share it with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider to assess and make recommendations.
Finding the right food-tracking app for you depends on your needs, but these 5 choices are worth considering. Apps can be an excellent way to maintain healthy habits or learn more about nutrition. Still, even with all the features they offer, they aren't personalized to your health needs and all that makes you who you are. A registered dietitian (RD) can help you create a tailored nutrition plan that meets your needs, especially if you live with chronic health conditions.
Managing Your Nutrition with an RD
You can use apps in combination with RD support to elevate your progress. An RD will help you create personalized goals, provide strategies to ensure you meet those goals and help you understand and overcome barriers to success. Connect with an RD today.
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