The internet is overflowing with dubious diet advice. New “healthy” fads pop up constantly. It can be challenging to figure out what’s actually good for you.
From finding healthy foods in the grocery store to tracking your daily intake, apps can help you eat better and hit your goals. Food tracking apps are particularly helpful.
Tracking your food can not only give you an eye-opening picture of what you’re really eating each day, but it can also improve weight loss. A medical journal review from 2011 found that keeping a food diary can improve weight loss.
But you don’t have to log everything by hand to get the benefits. A couple of small studies in the Journal of Medical Internet Research and Obesity Research & Clinical Practice have found that an app can work just as well as an online or paper food journal.
Here are this year’s top picks that’ll make it easy to eat healthy and track your goals.
Take the hassle out of counting carbs. Whether you’re managing your blood sugar or following a low-carb diet, CarbsControl helps you easily see what percent of your day’s calories have been from carbohydrates, fat, and protein so you can manage your intake. You can also set customizable goals and break down your carbohydrate allowance for each meal or snack to help you stay on target.
Grocery shopping can be especially frustrating when you have to consider food sensitivities and allergies. Food Intolerances makes it easy to quickly look up what you can eat. It’ll also help you avoid foods that’ll make you feel miserable. The app includes common intolerances like gluten sensitivity, lactose intolerance, or high-FODMAP foods. You can explore foods by category or search them directly to get a breakdown of how they might affect your sensitivity or allergy. Set a filter to remove the foods you (or a guest) can’t eat to create a helpful list of foods to munch on.
Get a full-blown nutrient breakdown of every food you eat. From big picture calories and fats to vitamin and mineral content, Nutrients has comprehensive nutrition data for thousands of foods. It’s easy to look up just about any food. Customize the serving size so you know what you actually ate. Add your own recipe to see your meal’s full nutrition data. Discover if you’re hitting your daily recommended values for vitamins and minerals with the app’s daily food journal.
Eat out without the guilt or using a cheat meal. HealthyOut helps you find healthy options at your local restaurants. You can filter by particular diets like low-carb, Mediterranean, or paleo to find a dish that fits your taste. The app also suggests easy modifications to the recommended dishes so you can boost the nutrition of your meal. This app will also help you get ideas for what to ask for at your favorite restaurants.
You don’t need a math degree to count your calories with this helpful app in your pocket. MyFitnessPal boasts the largest food database. Quickly find what you’re looking for and add it to your daily tally. The app saves your favorite foods so you don’t have to constantly search for the things you eat regularly. A feature lets you import recipes to get a full nutritional breakdown of your home-cooked meals.
Are you drinking enough water? Chances are the answer is no. Drink more water throughout the day by logging your intake and setting helpful reminders on this app. It takes less than a minute a day to track your daily intake with Waterlogged. Simply take photos of your water before you start sipping and save your most common glasses or bottles for easy selection later. A bottle graphic lets you quickly check in on your goal throughout the day.
Eating better starts in the grocery store. Learn how to decipher food labels and choose healthy foods with ShopWell. The app gives you personalized food recommendations based on your goals and dietary restrictions. A handy scanner quickly alerts you about foods you’re allergic to or trying to avoid. You don’t have to read every last word on the package while you’re shopping with this app. It also gives you suggestions for healthy foods in your preferred store and scores how well you’re doing at shopping for nutritious foods.
Macro trackers rejoice! This easy-to-use app tracks your daily macronutrients — carbohydrates, protein, and fat — so you can see the big picture of your diet without pulling out a calculator. A clear summary graphic means you can check how many macros you have remaining with a quick glance. A full history feature allows you to look back and dial in your nutrition. It’s also easy to set different macro goals for training and rest days. macronutrients you need each day, it can help you calculate that as well.
This app is one of the best food diaries for people trying to lose weight. MyNetDiary has you pick a weight goal before it analyzes your daily logs and gives you personalized diet advice. You can customize the home screen to include the nutrients that matter most to you — like sodium, fat, calcium, or calories — for a snapshot of your daily intake. It also lets you track body measurements, lab results, and symptoms to see whole picture and track your full progress.
Eating better and hitting your health goals is easier when you have a whole community supporting you. While the app is great for food and exercise tracking, its active community is what makes MyPlate truly stand out. Connect in real time with people who have similar health or fitness goals for a boost of motivation.
Mandy Ferreira is a writer and editor in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s passionate about health, fitness, and sustainable living. She’s currently obsessed with running, Olympic lifting, and yoga, but she also swims, cycles, and does just about everything else she can. You can keep up with her on her blog (treading-lightly.com) and on Twitter (@mandyfer1).