ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Your best tool for weight loss is probably in your pocket. Research has shown that people who use weight loss apps such as a food tracker or activity monitor lose more weight and sometimes up to two times more than people who don't track these actions.
Licensed dietitian Jen McDaniel has seven apps that help us eat better, move more or both and are free or cost a minimal amount
Food tracker apps help us raise awareness about what and how much we eat, like the five leftover french fries from your child's plate. Many apps have a strong social community where you can share your food diary with friends or your dietitian, which increases the likelihood of staying accountable to your goals.
The two most popular and highly rated food trackers are:
1. My Fitness Pal
2. Lose It
Food trackers like My Fitness Pal and Lose It help you set up your personal calorie goal and keep track of what you eat so you know if you are going over or under that goal. These apps are a popular choice because their databases contain more than 6 million foods and meals. The apps also sync to wearables like Fitbit and it's compatible for Apple and Android phones.
Other food tracker apps are:
3. Mindful Eating Tracker
4. Am I Hungry?
For people who don't love to count calories or monitor every nibble, there are mindful eating apps like the the Mindful Eating Tracker or Am I hungry app which help people learn to eat based on their personal hunger and fullness cues.
These apps are especially helpful for people who might be trying to understand the difference between physical and emotional hunger. Instead of logging calories, you log feelings and hunger levels, but unlike a paper journal, you'll be able to track those feelings in graph-form.
The next three apps might motivate you to move more but are built on different sources of motivation.
While taking more steps throughout the day won't cause pounds to melt off, we know the number of steps we take a day is linked to healthier body weights and moving more can help us sleep better and reduce stress—two important factors to helping us lose weight.
Apps to help you get more steps are:
6. Charity Miles
You don't have to have a Fitbit device or watch to use the Fitbit app, and it is an excellent resource to help track physical activity. The free app can be used to track your walking workouts as well as your all day steps. Fitbit also has strong community features. The app allows you to connect with your friends and family who use Fitbit, and you can participate in various challenges with them and share your progress if you choose.
Charity miles is an app for the type of person who gets motivated by helping others. It's movement with a purpose and allows you to walk, run or bike while earning money for the charity of your choice. You can choose from over 30 different charities, earning them a little cash as you walk.
Finally, McDaniel shares her favorite habit change app:
Developed by three Yale researchers, StickK starts off by having you create a Commitment Contract or an agreement that you sign with yourself to ensure that you follow through with your intentions. Then, you pick your goal, like eating more vegetables or walking daily.
Next, they walk you through steps to help you stay motivated like paying money to a charity or to a friend if you don't succeed. While you don't have to do this, they state that putting money on yourself can triple the chances of your success.
It also invites you to share your personal goal with at least one person who they call your referee to help you stay on track.