The 8 Best Diet Apps of 2021

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Lifesum

Lifesum

Lifesum

Pros
  • Works with various types of diets

  • Large database of recipes that contain five ingredients or less

  • Syncs with several major apps and fitness trackers

  • Habit trackers for water intake and fruit and vegetable consumption, along with a food rating system to encourage healthy habits

  • Creating an account is fast

Cons
  • No free version, plans start at $4.17/month

  • Barcode scanning isn't always able to find the item you're looking for

  • Some users appreciate judgements made by the app (smiley faces are given for certain foods that the app deems as "healthy")

Lifesum earns the title of best overall for diet apps because it encompasses all aspects of a healthy lifestyle, so you can learn how your diet integrates with other habits to ultimately help you reach your health and fitness goals. It’s also incredibly flexible and works with any diet, from keto to paleo to high protein, or you can choose to start with a three-week weight loss kickstarter plan. 

Your Life score serves as a source of motivation, getting higher and higher as you log healthy meals, exercise, water, and more. If you’re ever in a pinch for meal ideas, browse Lifesum’s database of hundreds of recipes. Take the quiz to find recipes best suited to your goals.

Lifesum also supports macronutrient and net carb tracking, perfect for those following a keto diet or other low-carb diet. The premium version, which starts at $4.17 per month, syncs seamlessly with several other health apps and devices, including Apple Health, Fitbit, Google Fit, Withings, and more.

Best for Food Logging: MyFitnessPal

myfitnesspal

 myfitnesspal

Pros
  • Enormous database of different foods, along with barcode scanning

  • Connects with over 50 apps

  • Forums available for support, questions, and encouragement

  • Free version allows for quite a bit of functionality (food tracking, nutrition insights, exercise tracking, water intake, etc.)

Cons
  • Nutrient data is only as accurate as the users who input it

  • May encourage consumption of processed foods because they're easier to track than entering in fresh recipes

Many people shy away from the thought of food logging, because it’s historically time-consuming and frustrating. With MyFitnessPal, keeping a food journal is easier than ever.

This app is renowned for its massive food database of more than 11 million foods (which continues to grow!). This database makes food logging easier than ever: All you have to do is scan a barcode (if the food is packaged) or search for the item (if it’s not packaged, like an apple or banana).

Additionally, you can create your own personal food database for foods you eat often. MyFitnessPal also gives you a nice breakdown of your daily macronutrient intake so you can see how well you’re sticking to your goals.

Best for Nutrition Education: Fooducate

Fooducate

 Fooducate

Pros
  • Encourages healthy eating rather than just calorie counting

  • Community support is provided on the app or website

  • Free to download and ad-free version is a one-time cost of only $3.99

Cons
  • Some functionality glitches on Android

  • Doesn't sync with other apps or devices

  • Not everyone agrees on what the app deems as "healthy"

If you’re new to the world of nutrition, exercise, and wellness, you may feel overwhelmed with all of the information out there. Fooducate aims to make healthy eating easier for everyone, from beginners to nutrition experts. The app’s wealth of articles and tips on nutrition and exercise makes it less overwhelming to integrate new healthy habits into your lifestyle. But this app is more than just an educational platform: You can track meals and recipes, exercise, sleep, mood, and hunger level. 

Perhaps the biggest differentiator about Fooducate is that not only can you track calories, but you can track the quality of the calories you eat—a very important but often overlooked factor when it comes to healthy eating. 

When you scan barcodes in the app, Fooducate analyzes information in the nutrition panels to look for components such as added sugars, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, GMOs, and more. Each food you enter receives a personalized nutrition grade (A, B, C, or D) based on your health status and goals.

Best for Keto: Carb Manager

Carb Manager

 Carb Manager

Pros
  • Extensive recipe database (over 1,000 from the app's test kitchen, 10,000 from users, and 350,000 website recipes available)

  • Connects with Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Health, Google Fit and hundreds of other trackers and apps

  • Free version is sufficient for basic keto tracking (net carbs, calories, etc.)

Cons
  • Several tracking features are limited to the paid premium membership (including meal plans, recipes, grocery lists, and body measurements

  • Difficult to customize meal plans based on dietary restrictions or preferences

Comprehensive yet straightforward, Carb Manager tracks calories, net carbs, ketones, blood glucose, insulin, glycemic load, and more to perfectly manage your keto diet. In addition to those advanced features, you can also track basic metrics such as water intake, exercise, and body weight. The app analyzes all of this information and provides reports on how your diet is helping you reach your goals.

You can track more than one million foods in the app’s database, connect Carb Manager to your other fitness apps and devices (such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch), browse recipes and meal plans, create custom grocery lists, and log your food via photo or voice command.

Best for Paleo: Paleo (io)

Paleo (io)

Paleo (io) 

Pros
  • If a food isn't listed you can submit it to be added in the system

  • Hundreds of paleo-friendly recipes are available

  • Quick and easy to use, especially if you're new to eating paleo

Cons
  • No free version, however the one-time cost of 0.99 cents isn't bad

  • Limited database with just 3,000 foods listed

  • Doesn't sync with other apps or fitness trackers

Paleo lovers, rejoice! With Paleo (io), you no longer need to endure hundreds of web searches to find out if a food is paleo or not. Just plug the food you’re wondering about into Paleo (io), and the app will instantly search its database of thousands of foods.

It’ll tell you whether or not the food is paleo, so you know if it works with your diet or not. The simple “Eat This” and “Not This” features make it easy to plan meals and buy groceries so you don’t end up with a cart full of foods you can’t eat on paleo.

Paleo (io) also offers loads of educational content, such as its Paleo 101 Briefing and in-depth blog articles on common paleo-related questions. In addition to the food database, Paleo (io) also has a paleo recipes database. 

Best for Weight Loss: Lose It!

Lose It!

Lose It!

Pros
  • Easy to track what you eat and see your progress towards reaching your goals

  • Community support is available in the free version of the app

  • Large database of available foods, barcode scanner for quick tracking

Cons
  • To sync fitness devices or do plan meals and exercise you have to upgrade to the premium version ($40/year)

  • Doesn't suggest foods or provide feedback on choices

As the name implies, Lose It! helps people reach their weight loss goals. The app interface is extremely simple and user-friendly with a focus on calorie counting and weight tracking. When you open the app for the first time, Lose It! will take you through a series of questions about your current weight, age, and health goals. Based on that information, the app creates a plan for you to follow, which includes a recommended daily caloric intake based on your goals. 

Once your plan is set up, you’re free to start logging food. You can do so by searching the Lose It! food database of more than seven million food items, scanning the barcode on your food, or taking a photo of your food with the “Snap It” feature. Lose It! provides daily and weekly food reports that summarize your eating habits. If you track your weight, the app also provides a graph that shows your weight changes over time. 

Best for Macro Counting: MyMacros+

MyMacros+

MyMacros+ 

Pros
  • Over 5 million foods to search from

  • You can track without internet service

  • Provides nutritional information for meals and snacks consumed

  • Syncs with all iOS platforms

  • Water tracking can be done in your preferred unit of measure (ounces, cups, gallons, milliliters, etc.)

Cons
  • Difficult to find certain foods through the search

  • Somewhat complicated interface

  • No free version, initial download is $2.99 and pro version costs $1.99/month or $19.99/month

With over 5 million foods in the app database, a barcode scanner, and a seamless logging component for foods and their weights, MyMacros+ is any macro-tracker’s dream app. You can also create and save homemade recipes that you use often, so you don’t have to individually log each component of the meal every time you eat it. For instance, if you make the same egg and veggie scramble every morning, save the recipe as a custom meal—from then on, you’ll be able to just tap the meal to log all of its individual ingredients at once. 

MyMacros+ allows you to log unlimited meals throughout the day and provides insights on how your diet impacts the goals you established when you first opened the app (you can modify your goals any time). You’ll get the nutritional breakdown of every ingredient, meal, and day. One unique and appealing feature of MyMacros+ is that the logging feature is usable without internet, so if you find yourself eating somewhere without service (such as at a campsite), you can still accurately log your meal.

Best for Meal Planning: PlateJoy

Platejoy

Platejoy

Pros
  • Menus are personalized based on 50 different data points

  • Optional grocery delivery available

  • Meal plans for diabetes may be covered by insurance

  • Digital pantry helps you save money on groceries by not adding items to grocery list that you already have at home

Cons
  • Recipes may not be suited for everyone's personal taste preferences

  • The Lose Weight plan can get pricey at $19/month

For many people, meal planning is the hardest part about sticking to a healthy diet. After a long day at work, it often feels so tempting to order takeout or microwave a frozen meal instead of cooking dinner. With PlateJoy, you can halt those temptations before they ever begin. 

With plans starting at just $8 per month, PlateJoy provides meal plans designed by nutritionists and professional chefs, along with organized grocery lists so you don’t have to spend hours trudging through the aisles. 

You’ll start by taking a lifestyle quiz that asks about your taste preferences, health and fitness goals, dietary restrictions, allergies, and schedule. Then the app uses a smart algorithm to create a customized meal plan, from keto to paleo to vegan and more, depending on your quiz answers. Your meal plan will come with hundreds of compliant recipes, and you can add your own favorite recipes to your meal plan, too. You can also sign up for optional grocery delivery with Instacart to save even more time.

What Is a Diet App?

Diet apps are programs that can be used on an iPhone or Android-based smartphone, allowing you to track eating and activity habits to help your weight loss efforts. One of the most popular features of diet apps is the ability to record the food you eat and view the nutritional information.

Some apps have helpful features such as barcode scanners, workout trackers, meal planners, support forums, and the ability to enter and save your own recipes, with all the nutritional information provided. Diet apps may be synced with other health apps and devices, such as Fitbit, Apple Health, Garmin, and Google Fit.

Can a Diet App Help Me Lose Weight?

While a diet app can certainly help users feel more motivated, accountable, and disciplined in their weight loss efforts, there are no guarantees that using one will help someone lose weight. That being said, there is evidence that using a calorie tracking app improves progress. A 2019 study found that people who regularly used MyFitnessPal lost more weight than those who didn’t use it as frequently.

Like any weight loss plan, the harder you work, the better results you’ll get. If you’re disciplined in your approach and take advantage of a diet app’s tracking and motivating features, it can be a powerful tool.

How Much Do Diet Apps Cost?

Some diet apps are free to download, but the free versions usually have limited access to special tracking tools, communities, and the ability to connect to other devices and apps. In many cases, diet apps charge a fee so that you can use those special features without annoying ads.

Some diet apps can be purchased for a one-time download cost, usually in the range of $1 to $5. Others are available for a monthly or yearly subscription fee, which can range from approximately $2 to $20 per month. The more expensive diet apps offer more customization, personalized feedback, and access to workouts.

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Article Sources
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  1. Patel ML, Hopkins CM, Brooks TL, Bennett GG. Comparing self-monitoring strategies for weight loss in a smartphone app. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2019;7(2):e12209. doi:10.2196/12209