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For some people, keeping track of food and calorie intake can be helpful for promoting weight loss.

Research shows that people who log calories lose more weight and are more likely to keep the weight off in the long run (1, 2).

These days, counting calories is very easy. There are many useful websites and apps that help you log your meals and track your intake.

This article reviews the five best calorie counters available today.

All of them are accessible online, and signing up takes less than a minute. They all have apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

Last but not least, most of them are free.

Best overall

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is one of the most popular calorie counters right now.

It tracks your weight and calculates a recommended daily calorie intake. It also has a well-designed food diary and an exercise log.

The homepage provides a clear picture of how many calories you’ve consumed during the day. In addition, it shows your remaining recommended intake and the number of calories you’ve burned by exercising.

If you’re using a fitness tracking device, MyFitnessPal can likely sync with it to include its data in the exercise log.

The app tracks your progress toward your goals and offers chat forums with fellow users. The forums include conversations, recipes, tips, and personal success stories.

MyFitnessPal’s nutrition database is very extensive, containing over 5 million foods. You can also download recipes from the internet or create custom foods and dishes.

The app even saves your favorite meals for convenient logging.

Additionally, MyFitnessPal’s barcode scanner allows you to instantly enter the nutrition information of some packaged foods.

Each day is presented as a pie chart, showing your breakdown of carbs, protein, and fat. You can also write a note for each day, recording how things went or how you were feeling.

MyFitnessPal does offer a free version. However, some of its features, such as meal preps and recipes, macronutrient counters, and guided fitness can only be accessed in the premium version, which is $49.99 per year.

Pros:
MyFitnessPal has the largest database available in a diet tracker and includes many restaurant foods.
It can download recipes from the internet and calculate the calorie content of each serving.
You can “quick add” calories if you don’t have the time to add details about a certain meal.

Cons:
Since most foods are uploaded by other users, the calorie count may not be entirely accurate. Multiple entries may exist for the same product.
Serving sizes in the database may be hard to edit, creating difficulties if your serving was smaller or larger than the one listed.
Studies have linked MyFitnessPal usage to eating disorders (6, 7, 8).


More: Website | iPhone app | Android app | Instructional video

Best free features

Lose It! App

Lose It! is another health tracker that includes an easy-to-use food diary and an exercise log. You can also connect a pedometer or other fitness device.

Based on your weight, height, age, and goals, Lose It! provides a personalized recommendation for calorie intake. It then tracks your calories on the homepage.

It features a comprehensive food database and an icon representing each food entry. The food diary is simple and user-friendly. Adding new foods is not complicated.

Additionally, the Lose It! app has a barcode scanner for packaged foods, and common foods are saved for quick entry later on.

Lose It! presents weight changes on a graph, provides access to an active chat community, and keeps a daily and weekly total.

Its tab called “challenges” allows you to participate in dietary challenges or make your own.

With a premium membership, which is $39.99 a year, you can set more goals, log additional information, and get some extra features.

Pros:
Lose It! has a food database complete with popular restaurants, grocery stores, and brand-name foods, all of which are verified by their team of experts.
The app lets you set reminders to log your meals and snacks.

Cons:
It’s hard to log home-cooked meals or calculate their nutritional value.
The app can be tricky to navigate.
Lose It! doesn’t track micronutrients.

More: Website | iPhone app | Android app | Instructional video

Best fully free

FatSecret

FatSecret is a free calorie counter. It includes a food diary, nutrition database, healthy recipes, exercise log, weight chart, and journal.

A barcode scanner helps track packaged foods.

The homepage shows total calorie intake, as well as the breakdown of carbs, protein, and fat — displayed both for the day and for each meal.

FatSecret offers a monthly summary view, which gives total calories consumed each day and total averages for each month. This feature may be convenient to track your overall progress.

This calorie counter is very user-friendly. It also includes a chat community where users can swap success stories and get tips, recipes, and more.

FatSecret offers a feature called “challenges,” wherein users can create or participate in dietary challenges in a closed group of people.

Their website is full of information and tips, as well as articles on a variety of topics.

Pros:
The food database is comprehensive, including many supermarket and restaurant foods.
Foods submitted by other users are highlighted so that users can verify if the information is accurate.
FatSecret can present net carbs, which may come in handy for low carb dieters.

Cons:
The interface is rather cluttered and confusing.

More: Website | iPhone app | Android app

Best for specific diets

Cronometer

Cronometer lets you easily keep track of your diet, exercises, and body weight.

It offers exact serving sizes and a useful exercise database. If you are pregnant or lactating, you can select a customized profile based on higher calorie needs.

You can also tell Cronometer if you’re following a specific diet, such as the paleo diet, low carb diet, or a low fat vegetarian diet. This changes the macronutrient recommendations.

The food diary is very simple and user-friendly. Below it, you’ll find a bar chart showing the breakdown of carbs, fat, and protein for that day alongside the total calories consumed.

Cronometer is particularly useful for tracking micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.

It offers a Gold upgrade for under $3 per month that eliminates ads, offers advanced analysis, and gives some extra features.

Pros:
Easy to use.
You can sync data from health devices to the app and import weight, body fat percentage, sleep data, and activities.
It tracks all micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.

Cons:
Cronometer does not divide the food diary into meals.
You can only add a home-cooked recipe on the website, not the app. However, the meal will be available in the app after that.
It does not have a social community of users.

Although the website is free, the app costs $2.99.

More: Website | iPhone app | Android app | Instructional video

Best for weight loss

Noom

Noom is not only a calorie counter, but it’s also an app designed to help you lose weight and sustain weight loss.

Noom asks you for specific information, like your age, height, weight, gender, and lifestyle, and uses that information to create a calorie budget — an estimate of the number of calories you should consume each day — and uses your calorie budget to help you reach a calorie deficit.

Noom encourages you to track the number of calories you consume each day, as well as take your weight at least once a day.

Noom also helps create diet plans without limiting or restricting certain food items. Instead, the app focuses on calories and nutrients as a way to promote weight loss.

Noom costs $44.99 to use but does offer a free trial.

Pros:
No food or food type is off-limits.
Promotes lifestyle changes instead of temporary changes.

Cons:
There is no free version.

More: Website | iPhone app | Android app

Calorie counters and nutrient trackers are incredibly useful if you are trying to lose, maintain, or even gain weight.

They can also help you make specific changes to your diet, such as eating more protein or fewer carbs.

However, there is no need to track your intake constantly.

Try it occasionally for a few days or weeks to get a more nuanced view of your diet.

That way, you’ll know exactly where to make adjustments to achieve your goals.