Food trackers: The best calorie counter apps and wearables

Food trackers: The best calorie counter apps and wearables

Tech yourself thin with these food apps and trackers
Best food tracking apps

There's been a lot of debate over recent years about the fact a calorie isn't always a calorie. So just because you cut down your calorie intake it doesn't mean you shouldn't focus on the quality of your food to make sure you feel good and ultimately shift the fat in the long term - not just the weight in the short term.

Having said that, using a calorie tracker is one of the best ways to get control of your diet. Counting up all those snacks and meals can reveal some shocking news about your eating habits and highlight common misconceptions about the food you eat - not to mention the portion sizes you might be over-consuming.

Read this: The best fitness tracker you can buy

It can quickly highlight what your normal eating habits are and where you might make improvements, which can perfectly complement the health and activity information from your wearable gadget.

You can use a variety of methods, from phone apps to wearables, and the trouble isn't finding a tool to track your calories, it's choosing which one is right for you.

There are dozens of diet apps to choose from these days but the best offer so much more than a digital diary. Barcode scanners give instant nutritional information, extensive food libraries make counting calories quick and accurate while some can be synched with a fitness band or step counter app to combine exercise and activity with diet for all-round healthier results.

Jawbone UP3


Gone are the days of fitness trackers solely being about steps and sleep. Jawbone's latest wearable, the UP3 is packed full of some of the most advanced sensors in the space, which means it takes measuring your calorie burn each day seriously.

It's easy to guestimate the impact 30 minutes of walking will have on your calorie deficit, but the UP3 tries to take out the guesswork, using data about your height, weight, activity intensity and duration from its huge range of sensors.

But with Jawbone it's not just about calorie burn. The newest version of the accompanying app has a beautifully simple food log with large photos sensibly split into meal times and food groups. To make tracking food and calorie intake even easier, Jawbone has recently partnered with Yummly, one of the best food discovery networks.

There's also a barcode scanner and the ability to take photos of your meals, input nutritional information and portion size to help keep your food diary accurate and improve the database.

Recently additions to the Jawbone app also include Food Score, which rates your choices so you're clued up enough to make better ones in the future. There's also the new Smart Coach, a super clever insight feature that helps you reach your goals and provides you with tips and recommendations.

Although you're likely to get a similar app experience with Jawbone's other trackers, like the UP2 and older model UP24, it's the high standard of sensors in the UP3 combined with calorie tracking ability to the app that put it at the top of our list and make it one of the most accurate app and tracker combo options on the market.

$179.99, jawbone.com | Amazon

MyFitnessPal

Phenomenally successful and for good reason the MyFitnessPal app (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows) is leagues ahead of the rest when it comes to calorie counting and diet management. Tell it your vitals and what you want to achieve - gain, lose or maintain weight - and MyFitnessPal estimates how many calories your body burns without additional exercise. It's then your job to log everything you eat and drink.

The layout is clean and easy to navigate – essential when you're looking for any excuse not to log last night's fried chicken – and the choice of over three million food items makes keeping tabs on your calories and hitting your targets mercifully simple.

To get the best from the app you should also log your daily activity. This can be done manually, but it can also sync with a vast selection of leading health apps and fitness bands including Fitbit, Jawbone and Withings. For even greater accuracy it can link with connected scales including Wahoo Balance and Fitbit Aria.

Free, myfitnesspal.com

Apple Health

Apple's Health app was created to become the one-stop-shop for all of your health and fitness data.

This dashboard is built to pull in all kinds of information, not just from your phone's sensors but from a huge range of third party apps and devices. Great news for those who are using lots of different health and fitness gadgets and platforms all at once. These stats and metrics are then displayed on a series of graphs and charts to paint a really comprehensive picture of your health and wellness at any given time.

As a way to track weight and keep an eye on calorie intake, Health is a great option for watching progress and trends over time.

However, you really need to make use of a third party app when it comes to goal setting and encouragement. Health is just all about the data at the moment.

Free, apple.com

Lifesum

Often cited as the best health and fitness app on the market, (according to App Store rankings at least) LifeSum does everything that MyFitnessPal does including calorie tracking, nutritional information breakdowns and syncing with plenty of third party fitness trackers.

But the thing that Lifesum fans love the most is just how simple the app is to use and great-looking the design is in comparison to the jam-packed experience you get with its rivals

This may seem like a rather small point, but research shows that the more you track the more successful your weight loss journey will be. If you're even slightly put off tracking something because of an overly bloated app design, then three weeks down the line it could be the difference between hitting your goal or falling at the first hurdle.

So if simplified tracking and consistency is what you're after, then Lifesum is likely to be your new calorie counting BFF.

Free, lifesum.com

Noom Health Coach

It may not be as comprehensive as the likes of MyFitnessPal, but when it comes to constant calorie tracking, you need an option that suits you.

And, with its intuitive interface, simple visuals and encouraging support groups Noom is proving to be a firm favourite among those wanting to shift a few pounds.

We personally like Noom because it's all about gentle encouragement and empowerment. Users are given tips and insights for each day, personalised eating programmes backed by science and simple food labelling systems so you can slowly start to learn how and what you should be eating all on your own.

Free, noom.com

Basis Peak

Like most trackers, the Basis Peak is first and foremost all about keeping an eye on your fitness and your sleep.

In the same vein as the Jawbone UP3, it then uses its huge range of sensors to provide some of the most accurate calorie burn tracking information in the space.

But it's the habit-building and goal-setting features that make it a firm favourite when it comes to weight loss. Allowing you to progress at your own pace and keeping you on track with notifications when you need more of a nudge in the right direction. Essentially combining calorie burn data straight from the device with intake from within the app and third party services.

£169.99, mybasis.com | Amazon

My Net Diary PRO

With MyFitnessPal offering so much for free it seems odd to want to pay, but it's a small price for the extra features on Calorie Counter PRO. Aside from the usual calorie counting, tracking and diet advice PRO is brilliant at educating users on their choice of foods and by using the barcode scanner you can get nutritional advice on over 600,000 different foods.

It will also adjust to specific diets so if you are on a low carb plan you can choose to show carbs instead of calories and can track up to 45 different nutrients to ensure you are getting enough – handy if you're deficient in something specific and need a boost.

While the main focus is on food tracking exercise isn't ignored and you can sync your fitness band – Fitbit, Withings or Jawbone – or download their own fitness tracking app to help get you motivated.

From $3.99, mynetdiary.com

Eatly

Like Meal Snap, Eatly is a food photo app…just without the science. Take a snap of your meal and the app will simply rate it from "very healthy", through "it's O.K.", to "unhealthy".

It's basic and unless you think a full fry-up is still a healthy start to your day you might not learn anything ground breaking, but once you start to rate other people's food photos, and get your own choices scrutinised, you'll soon be shamed into buying a salad.

Free, eatly.co

Nutrino

This ingenious app tells you what you should be eating in order to hit your diet goal. Input your vital statistics and it creates a personalised menu for every meal containing the optimum number of calories to help you shed the pounds. It can suggest an ideal long-term weight target for you or be used to lose a bit before a holiday.

It can even take into consideration food allergies and if you have a specific exercise programme – building muscle bulk for instance – it will tailor your menu to boost those biceps.

Nutrino also has a detailed food diary and can be linked with Withings and Fitbit monitors as well as the Runkeeper and Moves apps.

Free, nutrino.co

TAGGED

1 Comment

  • Caro says:

    I really liked that kind of lists. :) As you said, there are dozens of apps on the market now, which is sometimes so confusing! I´m searching for a wearable right now and your short summary really helped to get an impression of the jawbone one . What do you think of the wearable of Garmin? Saw a lot of people using them!For now i´m using a weight tracker app which is linked to the health App :) Which is really awesome! I tried first https://www.myfitnesspal.com/ and was really happy with it, but it got so expensive, right ? :/I was really hoping to use it for a moment because I was interested before in this wearable from Jawbone. Nevertheless, I gave up on Myfitnesspal and searched for another one, which you should check out, because it´s much cheaper and nicer from its design than Myfitnesspal, I think.It has a barcode scanner, which gives you your nutrional facts and has a great list of products. I´m really happy since and it keeps on losing my weight, as it should :) I´m a big fan of my app ( https://www.yazio.com/en/calorie-counter ) and it became a motivational gadget than an obligation! Did you heared of it before maybe?I would appreciate if you could maybe put it on your list? I think it really deserves to be announced! Thank´s for posting and hoping that you like it, as I do ;) Greetings!

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.