A calorie counter or calorie tracker is an online or smart phone app that helps track your energy intake so you can avoid inadvertently eating too much. People who use a calorie counter lose more weight, and find it easier to keep the weight off and maintain a lower weight.
A study involving 123 found that those who used a calorie counter to support their weight loss diet lost an impressive 10.7% of their body weight over the course of a year, compared with a 7% loss for those who did not track their calories. On average, keeping track of what you eat doubles your weight loss as it keeps you focussed on your goals.
The old-fashioned way to count calories is to keep a paper food dairy or journal to record everything you eat. But keeping a paper food diary and calorie tracker is hard work, as you have to keep looking up calorie values and adjust them depending on the amount of food you’ve eaten. Modern technology has made this easier in the form of Calorie Counting websites and apps – all of which offer a free version.
Using a calorie counter or food tracker can be the difference between successful weight loss and failure. Here are some of the best calorie counter aids that we recommend which have free plans.
MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter
Millions of people have lost weight the MyFitnessPal free calorie counter, which is available on-line and as a mobile app to make calorie counting and food tracking easier.
The database includes nutritional information on over 5 million foods and has a barcode scanner so you can enter the nutrition values and calories of man packaged foods.
As well as helping you count calories, MyFitnessPal also calculates your daily energy needs, tracks your weight and log your exercise. The chat forum is a great place to share tips, success stories and get support from others who’ve experienced the same ups and downs.
As well as the free version, some features on only available via a premium version. For example, you can download recipes from the internet to calculate the calorie count per serving.
When you first sign up, it asks you your weight loss goals, and tells you how long it will take to achieve your target.
Sign up to MyFitnessPal.
Lose It! Calorie Counter
Lose it! is another easy way to track your food and log your exercise. It calculates your recommended calorie intake, and when you set your goal, it provides you with a depersonalised daily calorie budget and weight loss plan. Lose it! helps you track food and exercise, has a comprehensive database of over 7 million foods, restaurant items and brands around the world. Search for a food, or scan barcodes using your smart phone. You can even snap a picture to help track your food intake!
Lose it! also has an active weight loss community to provide inspiration, motivation and support.
So far Lose it! has tracked over 68 million lost pounds of excess fat. The basic package is free, but you can pay a small monthly premium to access additional features.
When you sign up you are asked your weight loss goals, whether you want to lose ¼ kg, ½ kg, ¾ kg or 1kg per week, and predicts when you will reach your weight loss target. They also email you a link to download the app onto your smart phone.
FatSecret is a 100% free calorie counter app that has helped over 35 million people lose weight.
FatSecret offers a free food diary to keep track of what you’re eating, plus an exercise diary, weight chart and journal. It features a large collection of healthy recipes to browse, plus nutritional and calorie values for common foods, popular food brands and restaurant chain meals. It features Supermarket brands and has a barcode scanner to easily keep track of calories provided by packaged foods.
The active community is always uploading their favourite healthy recipes and weight loss tips and achievements.
The Fitness section lets you lot in an activity, record whether it was light, moderate or strenuous and estimates the amount of calories you’ve burned as a result. Brisk walking for just 15 minutes can help you burn 112 calories (we do of course mean kilocalories – but that’s another story .
The Healthspan NutriCoach App is free to download and lets you log your food intake, count calories and log your activity. You also get a welcome box of free personalised supplements. In the US, it is available as Styr.
Where the app really comes into its own is in syncing with the NutriCoach devices – an Activity Tracker and Smart Scales. You can also import data from another device if you already own one.
NutriCoach calculates your dietary targets to help you reach your weight loss and fitness goals. And as you keep active and log your diet throughout the day, your targets adjust in real-time, so you can monitor your progress and stay in control of your weight loss.
As Healthspan is a supplement company (which provides pharmaceutical quality supplements) the App can also create a personalised multivitamin and protein regime that you can tailor to your needs. The free starter pack you get on signing up will let you judge whether or not this is likely to suit you.
If you are not already using a Calorie Counter app, then don’t delay – sign up for one today. The one we use most is the Healthspan NutriCoach app which is available in the US as Styr. Do you use an App or online Calorie Counter? Which one works best for you?