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Lose Weight With Your Phone

5 easy, inexpensive apps that help you count calories

FatSecret

A comprehensive app with calorie counter and nutrition tips, FatSecret is one of the most popular nutrition apps for the BlackBerry. That's despite not including the bar code scanner that's found with the iPhone and Android versions. The simple menus make it easy to navigate and a calendar offers a handy look at progress over time, including a green or red arrow for good days and bad. The genius swap of a "home" button for the "back" button that's on most apps saves finger touches when, for example, you're done entering a meal. But ads that try to stay unobtrusive at the bottom of the screen sometimes get in the way.

Available for: iPhone, Android and BlackBerry
Price: Free

Meal Snap

This brand-new app brings a "wow" factor to the office lunch table: Snap a photo of your plate of food, and it estimates the calories. It's hardly perfect, but surprisingly good. Meal Snap thought a bowl of corn chowder was tortilla soup — although it caught the croutons and ultimately was off by only 50 calories. We're promised that the app will soon link to its Web mother ship, DailyBurn.com, a comprehensive nutrition and exercise tracking site with its own free iPhone app. The Daily Burn app is a good one, despite the badgering to upgrade to the "pro" versions (starting at $10) and add a bar code scanner ($5).

Available for: iPhone
Price: $3

Fooducate

Here's another slick, iPhone-only app that is about overall healthy eating. Scanning bar codes on packaged foods brings up a letter grade of the health within (a fresh orange gets an "A," and Twinkies a "D"). You also get a host of facts and warnings, such as: "Choose nuts without added oils (which) add unnecessary calories to an otherwise healthy snack." In addition to the scoldings, the app also suggests specific alternatives that are similar while healthier. It's heavily skewed toward processed foods. That shouldn't matter too much, because if food doesn't have a bar code, there's a good chance it's good for you. But this software is about educating rather than tracking — combine it with another app that can better monitor the food you eat.

Available for: most iPhones
Price: Free

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