Study after study shows the more consistently you track your food intake, the more likely you are to lose weight. It’s easy to understand why every successful weight management program and nutritionists across the country suggest keeping a food diary and/or activity log. But it can be tough to keep track of it all.
If you're trying to improve your eating habits, weight or overall health, you may want to consider using a smartphone app to track your daily calories. We have found some of the best calorie-counter apps on the market and compiled them below to help you decide which one is worth a download.
1. MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter and Fitness Tracker
Many people will tell you this is the best free calorie counter app around — and it’s because there's a lot to like about MyFitnessPal. It conveniently tracks not only your weight and exercise, but your calories as well. With access to a community of friends, you can share information and encouragement with your support crew or others striving for the same goals. You can also scan bar codes (a great feature while you're shopping) and store your information in the Cloud so it's available to you via computer or mobile device.
MyFitnessPal also features an extensive food database that includes many restaurant menu items. It's an intuitive app that learns your eating preferences quickly, saving you time when you have to type in the same foods over and over again. To provide a constant update on the calories you have left to consume in a day, it also estimates the calories you burn off while exercising. It also connects with other 50 apps that support your healthier lifestyle like Garmin, Samsung Health, Fitbit and MapMyRun.
Coolest feature: A database of over 300 million foods and access to 300 exercises in a comprehensive free calorie counter.
Downside: The huge database can be difficult to wade through.
Free for iOS, Android.
2. Calorie Counter PRO by MyNetDiary
Calorie Counter PRO is very similar to MyFitnessPal — it has an efficient bar code scanner, tracks your exercise habits and provides access to an online community. But Calorie Counter PRO also has a few additional features that just might make it your pick for best calorie counter app. It monitors a wide variety of personal data, including sleep, hydration, blood pressure and body measurement and provides access to a registered dietician to answer your questions.
There's also a stored food diary and a ton of recipes in Calorie Counter PRO. You can search for nutritional information on the web and the food database is always available for access, whether you’re on or offline. In addition to all of these features, its user interface is much nicer and easier to use than its popular competitors.
Coolest feature: Take a snapshot of the nutrition facts on a package of food and it will be added to your database.
Downside: Smaller database (932,000 foods) and price.
$60 for a yearly membership for your smartphone, tablet and browser
If you're a minimalist looking for the best calorie counter app with no bells and whistles, try Pertinacity. While not a traditional calorie counter, this app uses an adaptive algorithm to gradually lower the number of calories you consume by keeping track of the number of portions you eat. According to its website, it is more accurate than calorie counting systems. It slowly changes your eating habits to help you lose weight while you eat the food you love – just less of it. With no profiles to create, no exercise records to keep and an easy way to "eyeball" food quantities, this is an astonishingly easy app to use.
Coolest feature: Simple interface and ease of use make it more likely you'll stick with the program.
Downside: Not currently available for Android.
Free for iPhone
4. Fitocracy Macros
By far the best calorie counter app for the serious athlete, Fitocracy Macros is a great calorie app on the market that also monitors macronutrients. Enter the amount of carbs, fats and proteins in a meal, name the meal for future reference, and find out how much your body needs for the rest of the day.
Fitocracy Macros tracks your eating history and provides you with weekly averages for macronutrient and total calorie consumption. You earn points for working out, badges for unlocking special achievements and you can view your progress on any exercise with interactive charts. It also offers a community component allowing you to connect with other users. It now also offers a coaching plan for a dollar a day you receive customized nutrition plans, workouts, daily accountability and personalized guidance from your coach.
Coolest features: Accounts for rest days and training days and has full integration with Fitocracy app.
Downside: Without a food database, there's a lot of manual input.
Free for iOS and Android
5. Calorie Counter by FatSecret
Here's another nice free calorie counter courtesy of FatSecret. Calorie Counter helps you set weight loss goals and monitor your success with calculations for daily caloric intake and calorie-burning exercise. It also provides healthy recipes to keep you on the right track.
Coolest features: Easy adjustment for varying portion sizes and daily goals. Even offers shopping lists for the meal planners out there!
Downside: You have to provide all of your own motivation — there's no cheerleading here.
Free for iOS and Android