Summer is just around the corner, which means it's time to get down and ready for this year's bikini season. It also means you just have a few weeks more to go before people flock to the beach in their itsy-bitsy swimsuits, and there is simply no way you can work out to the high heavens and expect to have a rockin' beach bod soon.
Still, having a healthy diet and eating the right kinds of food can help you slim down for the season, and using a few weight loss apps can help you reach reasonable fitness goals before the colder seasons set in. That's because eating healthy and eating right involve keeping track of the things you put in your mouth, and for many of us, it requires time and patience trying to figure out whether a cup-and-a-half of pasta drenched in olive oil is good for you or not.
These diet apps, which can be categorized into calorie counters and food diary apps, can help take the load off your shoulders and do some of the dirty work for you, while you take your own fill of the work by trying to turn down every Snickers bar that gets in your way.
MyFitnessPal is royalty when it comes to weight loss apps, with its huge database of more than two million foods to choose from, including popular and not-so-popular restaurant meals. You also get a recipe calculator, which allows you to track your calories in foods you're making yourself. It's not just calories you're counting though. This app looks at the big picture and also incorporates other important factors, such as your vitamin and cholesterol intake. MyFitnessPal is backed by a massive and very active community of users that help provide you information and the encouragement you need when you feel like reaching for a quarter-pounder.
Lose It! is a combination calorie counter and exercise tracker that lets you get set up easily by entering your weight, height and goal weight, allowing the app to present you with your recommended caloric intake in order to reach that goal. You'll also be able to add your own custom recipes with individual ingredients and Lose It! will calculate the nutritional information for you. Every day, you'll also get reminders to record your meals and to work out, and you'll also be able to sync the app with fitness trackers such as the Fitbit and Jawbone Up as well as fitness apps such as Runkeeper so that it pulls your data into one place.
One thing that sets apart SparkPeople's Calorie Counter is the ability to record your meals using dictation. When you're exhausted and can't be bothered to type in your meals for the day, you can simply open the app and tell it you had "one cup of low-fat Greek yogurt and 10 prunes." It's also a helpful shopping buddy as it lets you scan the barcodes of packaged foods to bring up their nutritional information. Calorie Counter lets you take control by setting goals at the start of the day, such as "Eat an entire head of lettuce" or "Run three miles," and check them off at the end of the day.
FatSecret prides itself in being an independent app that offers its services for free without pushing down certain diets or weight loss programs down your throat. Like the rest of the diet apps mentioned here, FatSecret will let you find the nutritional information of your meals and track your exercise. It also includes a personal journal along with the main food journal, since how you feel is ultimately linked to what you eat. You can download FatSecret for free and try out its food database without having to log in, which means you don't have to open an account first before taking the app out for a spin.
Noom Coach is like a virtual fitness coach that pushes you toward your fitness goals but without overwhelming you with all the things you need to do. Every morning, the app will give you one small thing to focus on, such as drinking a glass of water or setting a realistic weight loss goal. Noom will then create a personalized diet plan for you where you can log your meals and find out how many calories you're taking by using the built-in calorie counter. You'll also receive tips, inspirational tidbits and reminders to keep you going and have a weight graph to help you see where you are in terms of how far you are from your goal.
It is always recommended that you read labels when out grocery shopping, but not many people actually know what those labels mean. Here is Fooducate to the rescue, a surprisingly accurate app when it comes to giving you the nutritional information (not just the calorie count) of most of the foods you find at the grocery store. Simply scan the package's barcode with your smartphone's camera and Fooducate will give the food a grade on a scale of A to D, with A being the healthiest and best for your weight loss goal, based on the food's calories and amount of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Diet Point Weight Loss offers you more than 130 diets. From Atkins to South Beach and Paleo, you have all the resources you need once you decide which diet is best to reach your weight loss goals. The app will even provide you with detailed shopping lists for each diet plan and send you reminders when it is time for your next meal. That way, your diet does not backfire on you because you never have to miss a single meal anymore.
Eating out can be a pain if you're dieting, but not so much with HealthyOut Healthy Meal Finder. As its name implies, this app helps you find restaurant meal choices in your area that fit your diet plan. There are several ways to search using a number of filters based on popular diets (Paleo, Atkins, South Beach, etc.), restrictions (vegan, lactose-intolerant, gluten-free, etc.) and nutrition preferences (low-sodium, high-protein, low-fat, etc.). Plus, if you're tired of the same old salad for your meals, you can try the app's most popular filter, "not salad."
The first thing you will notice about CRON-o-meter is its simple, easy-to-use interface that lacks all the bells and whistles of the other diet apps mentioned here. That can be a bad thing for some people, but for others who simply want to track their caloric and nutritional intake, CRON-o-meter is a lightweight, fantastic app that does the job well. It does have a few additional features to help weight loss tracking easier, such as the ability to add custom recipes and foods not included in its database. You can also set your weight loss goals and the app will show you charts that demonstrate your progress over time.
My Diet Diary opens to a nice background of a sailboat at sunset, which builds upon the idea that eating right should not be a stressful thing. Aside from keeping track of your food, exercise and weight, My Diet Diary includes another important element to weight loss, your water intake. Like a helpful, know-it-all friend, this app will push daily tips to help you live a healthier lifestyle and remind you when it's time to eat or exercise. As an exercise tracker, My Diet Diary can also connect with your fitness tracking device to sync all the information it collects with the app.
Photo: Joao Vicente | Flickr