The top 5 food apps of 2016

best-food-appsPeople who take time to track food intake and calorie counts intermittently are more successful in losing weight and keeping it off than those who don’t. (1, 2)

It’s not necessary to know what you’re eating every meal or every day, but giving yourself a periodic, accurate update is important; this can help you stay in ranges that will help you meet goals and make yours a success story instead of a bust.

Keeping a food record is much easier in this digital age; you don’t need to use books or written journals to know where you stand with food intake each day. All the information you need is accessible through your computer or other device.

There are many apps available for tracking food, and most of them won’t cost you anything unless you decide to upgrade to premium versions.

These are the five best you can find online.

  1. MyFitnessPal

One of the reasons this app is so popular is the huge database users draw from; this includes more than five million foods, as well as a feature that allows you to download recipes from the internet and calculate caloric content.

Creating custom dishes is also possible on MyFitnessPal, and you can save favorite meals so they’ll be quick and easy to add in when you eat them again.

Home page layout makes it simple to see calories consumed, the portion of recommended intake remaining for the day, as well as the number of calories burned through exercise.

For those who use a fitness tracking device, syncing the app is usually an option; you can include exercise stats in the log without spending a lot of time.

There’s even a barcode scanner, making it easy to add information from certain packaged foods.

The pie chart you’ll see onscreen shows ratios of protein, carbs and fat, and there’s a place to enter notes about how you felt or other relevant aspects of the day in relation to food intake and exercise.

You can track goals, interact with others in the chat forum, share recipes or tips, and look over meal planning ideas.

Most features are available in the free version, and upgrading will run you $49.99 for a year.

Pros:

  • Large database includes a good selection of restaurant foods
  • Caloric counts are automatically calculated for downloaded recipes
  • A “quick-add” feature lets you enter calories without fussing over details

Cons:

  • Other users upload most of the foods, so accuracy and duplicate entries may be an issue
  • Difficult to adjust for serving size
  1. LoseIt!

This app can also connect with other devices to make entering information about exercise simple and fast. Food and exercise records are easy to enter, and a personalized recommendation for caloric intake is provided.

The database is extensive, and once you enter age, height, weight and goals, you can monitor calories on the home page.

The barcode scanner is handy for adding information from packaged foods, which can be saved for quick entry the next time.

You get daily and weekly total calorie counts, with weight changes presented in graph form. The chat community is active, and participating in “challenges” is always an option, as well as organizing one of your own.

The premium membership, running at $39.99 a year, allows you to set more goals and enter additional information, along with a few other extras.

Pros:

  • Database includes restaurant foods and grocery items that have been entered by an “expert” team
  • You can set reminders to add information about snacks or meals

Cons:

  • Navigation can be difficult
  • Adding the nutritional value of home-cooked meals is a clunky process
  • Micronutrients like vitamins and minerals cannot be tracked
  1. FatSecret

This completely free app offers a nutrition database, exercise log, food journal, calorie counter and weight chart, as well as healthy recipes.

The barcode feature is included so you can scan packaged foods, and totals for all categories are accessible in graph form for each meal as well as for the day’s food.

FatSecret offers a monthly summary, which shows daily calorie consumption and averages that can help you track ongoing progress.

You’ll find the calorie-counter quite user-friendly, and chat forums are active, with recipe-swapping, success stories and frequent “challenges” to keep you motivated.

There are lots of recipes, and articles and other information are also available.

Pros:

  • Large database includes supermarket foods as well as restaurant choices
  • When information is added by users, it’s highlighted so you can verify if desired
  • “Net carb” counts can be helpful for those following a low-carb plan

Cons:

  • Some users find the interface confusing and cluttered
  1. Chron-o-meter

Food intake, body weight and exercise are all easy to track with this app. The exercise database is excellent, and separate settings are available for pregnant and lactating women, as well as those with other special needs.

Recommendations for macronutrient intake can be adjusted according to specific diets you may be following, including low carb, paleo and low-fat vegetarian plans.

The simple food diary is fast and easy to use, and a bar chart below shows a daily breakdown for protein, carbs and fat, as well as total calories.

You can track micronutrient intake including vitamins and minerals, and for less than $3 monthly, you get extra features like advanced analysis and no advertisements.

Pros:

  • Simple to use
  • Data syncing with other devices
  • Micronutrient tracking

Cons:

  • Home recipes can only be added on the website; once you add something, the app can access relevant information
  • No social forum
  • Website use is free, but the app costs $2.99
  1. SparkPeople

The massive community of SparkPeople offers a variety of resources including articles by experts, trending news in health and wellness, videos of exercise demos, and recipes.

This app is a good choice for people who appreciate a lot of support and interaction with others.

You’ll find the free database impressively large, but many of the features are only accessible to users who have upgraded their accounts.

Adding recipes is easy, and you can get food info by scanning barcodes of many packaged items. A user-friendly food diary converts calories and macronutrients at the end of each day with the option of viewing as a pie chart.

Pros:

  • Abundant resources

Cons:

  • Some users are overwhelmed by the amount of information on the site
  • Content is spread between apps that are customized, such as for pregnant women
  • Logging foods can be tricky

When you’re working on physical improvements, accessing the information you need to keep yourself headed in the right direction can make all the difference.

Most people only need to track occasionally, for a few weeks or less, in order to make crucial adjustments or corrections needed to meet goals.

Summary: Tracking food intake can be integral to success whether you’re trying to gain weight, lose weight or maintain previous losses. Food apps for use on your computer and personal devices make the process much simpler and easier.

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