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7 Best Calorie-Counting Apps

Our favorite food trackers to help you get your summer body plan together

calorie counting app

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Find out which apps can help you get healthy and even lose weight

Weight loss, at its core, is a matter of calories in and calories out. We take calories in with food, then burn them off through exercise. If you burn off more calories than you eat, you're bound to shed pounds. But that means you should know how much you're eating each day. Not always a simple task.

Until you can eyeball your food portions like a fitness pro, try these free or low-cost apps to help you track your food and get you on the road to a healthier lifestyle.

MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter

Cost: Free

OS: Android and iOS

What makes MyFitnessPal unique is its massive database of foods, featuring a wide variety of brands, both organic and nonorganic. Search for menu items at restaurants across the country for help making healthy choices wherever you are. Upload full recipes from a website by simply copying and pasting the URL of the page where you found the recipe. The app finds all the ingredients listed on the page, and you can edit as necessary before saving and logging. Add your own recipes, too.

LoseIt!

Cost: Free (Premium Available)

OS: Android and iOS

LoseIt! is user-friendly and robust, with a number of ways to log and track food. The first is manual input, similar to most other calorie-tracking apps. The second is through barcode scanning, to help you win the battle with cookies at the grocery story, and not at 9 p.m. in your kitchen. Lastly, a new Snap It feature provides food log suggestions based on the image. With so many options, tracking your calories is easier and less time consuming.

Weight Loss Coach, Fooducate

Cost: Free (Premium Available)

OS: Android and iOS

Fooducate takes calorie tracking one step further. Learn about the quality of the food you're eating, not just the quantity. You maintain an average food grade that uses standard letter grading style (A-F), and each food you log is also given a grade. When you click on Why? you're presented with a list of benefits and drawbacks for the food item.

Example: VitaTop Muffin Top, Banana ChocoChip gets a "B" for too much sugar and being "highly processed." The explanation includes positive attributes as well, so you can start to learn what makes a good food "good."

Calorie Counter, MyNetDiary

Cost: Free for Android. $3.99 for iOS (only the pro version is available)

OS: Android and iOS

This app makes it easier to paint a picture of your food habits to help you achieve weight loss. For example, every time you log food, the app also logs the time. That way you can look back and find patterns in your eating. If you're consuming a high-sugar snack every day at 3 p.m., you may need to eat more protein at lunch so you get a steady stream of energy throughout the afternoon, rather than a spike and crash. The daily analysis gives you a quick and digestible snapshot of how you did that day, including your daily energy balance. This helps you begin to understand how energy in and energy out works for your body.

MyPlate Calorie Tracker

Cost: Free

OS: Android and iOS

Ever forget to eat when life gets busy? The meal-time reminder feature on this app, created by Livestrong, is a cure for that. Chronic undereating causes your body to hold on to fat, sabotaging your weight-loss goals. After setting up your account, you'll be prompted to set these reminders. When going on vacation or deviating from your usual schedule, change the reminders by navigating to the Settings page.

Lifesum: Healthy Lifestyle App

Cost: Free

OS: Android and iOS

Make a sustainable lifestyle change with this app's Life Score. After signing up, you have the option to take a short Life Score quiz on your main dashboard. After adding food allergies and answering questions like "How often do you have fruit?" you'll get "feedback cards" that tell you simple things you can do to be healthier. The cards recommend what to cut back on and what to eat more of. Click on each one to learn more about the suggestion and the food, drink or activity level in question. The more you can understand, rather than simply following directions or suggested eating habits, the more likely you are to make your new healthy habits stick. Retake the test once a month to see if your score increases.

Poundaweek

Cost: Free

OS: Android (Coming soon to iOS; go to the website to be alerted when it arrives)

This calorie-counting app offers a number of features not found in other options, starting from the very first step. You're asked about body type, with normal, muscular, thin and obese as options. This is an important part of determining the appropriate calorie count — it's not one size fits all. Unlike most other apps, Poundaweek focuses on weekly limits, rather than daily. Life is messy, and it's easy to go over your daily limit because of dinner with friends or someone's birthday in the office. The weekly calorie count factors this in, giving you the option to track your calories the way you live your life.

Calorie counting is one of the best ways to meet your weight-loss goals. It's not until you have to log what you've eaten that you start thinking before noshing on an extra snack or going back to the kitchen for seconds. Use these apps to stay on track.

Jessica Thiefels is a full-time blogger and fitness professional in San Diego, Calif.

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