The Best Apps for Health & Weight Loss

By: 
Laura Sebring
June 23, 2021

When it comes to weight loss, healthy eating, mindfulness and fitness tracking—there’s an app for that. By using a combination of the many health, diet, and fitness apps that are available and easy to use, you can hold yourself accountable for maintaining good habits on a daily basis, and you can even learn new things about yourself and your health.

These apps are designed for different categories of need, including exercise, food tracking, mental health/mindfulness, and fluid tracking. But they all have one common goal—making it easier for you to stay on track, while living a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle, and often losing weight in the process.

Here are a few of our favorite health and fitness apps, based on the expertise of Laura Sebring, MS, RD, LDN, lead bariatric and weight loss dietitian and nutritionist at True You Weight Loss, and the reasons why we like them so much.

Exercise/Fitness Apps

  • Nike® Training Club: This is a great app to help you reach your fitness goals, offering more than 185 free workouts (using equipment or not)—including cardio, weight training, yoga, body-weight exercises and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  Adjustments can be made for experience level, level of difficulty, and desired length of workout. Many find this app to be very motivational as well.
  • Workout for Women: This is a top fitness app for women featuring quick five to 10-minute workouts that focus on specific body types. It’s great for women who are on-the-go! Workouts can be done anywhere, anytime. 
  • FitOn™: This app touts its free exercise videos, hosted by celebrity trainers, and personalized workout plans. It offers many different options including Barre, dance, yoga, Pilates, cardio, and strength training. Browse by workout category, body part, length, and intensity. A live leaderboard also creates an opportunity for friendly and motivating competition. 
  • Down Dog: “Great fitness anywhere” is this app’s tagline, and we agree! Primarily a yoga app, Down Dog also offers HIIT, meditation, Barre, and prenatal yoga. It gives you a personalized, studio-like yoga experience with over 60,000 configurations of sessions that are mixed up every time. Choose components such as your music, time, level, and focus to customize sessions for yourself.
  • Peloton®: You do not need to own a Peloton bike to enjoy this awesome app! It’s perfect for people who want to try new treadmill, cycling, outdoor running, strength training, HIIT, cardio, and bodyweight workouts at home. World-class instructors and heart pumping music help you get the most out of every session.
  • The Johnson & Johnson Official 7-Minute Workout®: This app presents a quick and easy, science-based way to workout anywhere and at any time. Users feel like they are actually working with a personal trainer, with 72 exercises and 22 additional workouts that can be customized to create more than 1,000 variations. Additionally, the Smart Workout feature can interpret different fitness levels and needs for intensity.
  • MapMyRun by Under Armour®: If you need help tracking your runs, discovering new routes, or finding routes that are recommended by others, this is the app for you.  Additionally, MapMyRun motivates you to go even further by keeping you informed of your distance, pace, calorie burn, and elevation.
  • Google Fit™: Specifically for Wear OS by Google™ smartwatch (formerly Android™ Wear smartwatch) users, this app connects various apps for a holistic view of your health. It monitors your progress toward heart health, tracks your moving minutes from any activity, tracks your sleep, partners with adidas® Running to track your run distance and run time, tracks food calories, and monitors your pulse.
  • Glo®: Designed to promote the well-being of your body and your mind, Glo is an online yoga, meditation, Pilates, and fitness class app. Classes are conducted by world-class teachers and can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home.

All of the above are available on both Apple® and Android devices, except for Google Fit, which is specifically for the Wear OS by Google smartwatch.

Mental Health/Mindfulness Apps

  • Calm™: Calm is a top-rated app for sleep, guided meditation, and relaxation. Learn how to meditate, get better sleep, and feel more refreshed in the morning; utilize music for focus, relaxation and sleep; enjoy video lessons on mindful movement and gentle stretching; and feel calmer by enjoying nature scenes and sounds.
  • Headspace™: This app is aimed at helping you “unwind your mind,” while learning how to sleep better, relieve stress, and consciously relax on a regular basis.
  • Balance: Improve stress and sleep with this app that acts as a private meditation coach. Personalized, guided meditations are customized to fit your personality, goals, and experience. Learn new techniques, breathing exercises, and relaxation activities.
  • Brain.FM™: This app uses a science-based approach, creating music to help you reach a desired mental state, such as focus or sleep. In fact, Brain.FM holds patents on key processes to soothe your brain. There are no gaps between songs; the music just continues to flow. 
  • Tangerine: By offering a mood journal to help with stress management, Tangerine aims to “improve your overall wellbeing and [help you] be happier through better self-esteem and less stress.” Importantly, this app also helps you realize what activities make you happy or sad as you reflect on each day.
  • Bloom: This app helps you change your pattern of thinking by using cognitive behavioral therapy. Its guided meditations are designed to help reduce stress and anxiety that can be overwhelming.  Bloom also encourages mindfulness and learning.

All of the apps listed above present effective support in helping you change your mindset and thinking, however, it is important to remember that they should never be used to replace the care and advice provided by a licensed therapist. Additionally, all of the above mindfulness apps are available on both Apple and Android devices.

Food-Tracking Apps

  • Apple iPhone Health: Available only on the iPhone, the iPhone Health app allows you to keep up with your daily activities by tracking your steps, tracking the distance you walk and run, and helping you understand your sleep patterns for the purpose of getting better sleep. With an Apple Watch, the Health app can also track your Activity data (i.e. active energy, cardio fitness, resting energy, etc.).
  • Lose It!: This app aims to make weight loss easier by allowing you to set goals and track food, calories, water intake, and macronutrients (proteins, carbs, and fats). Using Lose It!, you can also track exercise, weight and steps, and then send your nutritionist weekly reports, if you choose to do so.
  • MyFitnessPal™: With MyFitnessPal, you can track calories, break down ingredients and track activities. This app includes a catalog of the largest list of foods (over 11 million!) and can show calorie count, nutritional information, and serving size for each. It can also be linked to other fitness and health apps for more effective tracking and daily monitoring.
  • Baritastic™: This top app for bariatric patients supports you on your weight loss journey by offering the robust tracking of food, water, exercise, weight, and measurements. Meanwhile, patients can set reminders, write notes, and upload photos to save memories along the way.
  • MyPlate Calorie Counter: Track your nutrition and learn at-home workouts with this helpful app. You can also track macronutrients and find healthy recipes that match your health goals.
  • MyNetDiary™: This app is touted for its simple, streamlined design and the fact that it requires the fewest steps of any other app to log foods. Plus, it offers a huge food database and allows you to set weekly goals and track your weight and activity.  However, MyNetDiary is primarily only a calorie tracker.
  • RecipeIQ™: Helping you cook and eat healthier, RecipeIQ is the only recipe analyzer that calculates the nutritional facts of homemade meals—from calories, to fat, to sugar, to carbohydrates, and much more. This app is easy to use, and recipes can be uploaded by photo, URL, or manual entry.
  • Cronometer: This comprehensive nutrition app is said to have it all! Track calories, protein, carbs, cholesterol, and more, in addition to logging exercise, body mass index (BMI), activity level, body fat percentage, supplements, and water intake. Cronometer can also input custom foods and recipes, as well as food from restaurants. Sync it with your fit device to connect food and activity data.

All of the above are available on both Apple and Android devices.

Fluid-Tracking Apps & Devices

  • Water Reminder - Daily Tracker for Apple: Because plenty of water is needed daily for health and weight loss, this app allows you to remind yourself to drink water throughout the day. It will also calculate how much water you need, before tracking your hydration daily and reminding you to drink more to fulfill your goal. Water Reminder is only available through the Apple iPhone Health app and the Apple Watch.
  • Water Drink Reminder for Android: This app is Android’s match to the iPhone’s daily water drinking reminder app.
  • Plant Nanny: Almost like a video game, this water tracker app encourages you to drink your required amount of fluids daily, or your fictitious, animated plant will die. It is available on both Apple and Android devices.
  • Hidrate Spark®: This water bottle and app combo was developed to keep you healthy by monitoring and tracking your daily water intake. How much water you need is determined by your individual profile, and the bottle and app work together to inform you of your daily progress toward your water requirement goal. Reminders to drink water happen when your water bottle glows or via text message notifications on your phone. HidrateSpark is available on both Apple and Android devices.

Important Reminders for Bariatric Patients

With so many health and fitness apps out there, Laura reminds us that it is important to keep a few things in perspective and understand the limitations of these electronic health trackers.

“Take what they give you with a grain of salt,” explains Laura. “Ignore the preset suggestions because they are based on algorithms, and these apps will have no idea that you are a bariatric patient. Those who have undergone an endobariatric procedure will typically need less (food, macronutrients, etc.). Find an app where you can adjust and personalize your goals, and it will be less frustrating to use it to stay on track.”

Laura’s other suggestions include:

  • Avoid apps that promote fasting or fads diets, such as Keto.
  • “Friend” your friends on apps, if you can, to get motivated and share in new weight loss strategies or ideas.
  • If tracking starts to stress you out, take a break! If you find yourself gaining again or reaching a plateau, start tracking everything closely again.
  • Be honest with yourself. Lying about or deciding not to track the foods you eat will only work against you, and it will be much more difficult to reach your weight loss goals.
Laura Sebring
Laura Sebring
Get Monthly Updates About Nutrition and Advancements in Weight Loss

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