Before the summer we all vow to get in shape so we can strut around the beach looking buff in our Speedos. Few of us have much success with this, but the slow passing of summer into autumn does not mean we can’t make a new start and get active — even when the weather is terrible.
Of course, going it alone can be tricky, so we approached Nicola from the Future Fit School Of Nutrition to help us put together some of the best apps for managing a weight loss plan. She told us: “Apps have made our lives easier in so many ways and it’s now simple to monitor your eating habits and the nutritional value of what you’re eating.”
“There are loads of different apps around that’ll give you a good idea of how healthy the food you’re about to eat actually is. So we often use apps that scan barcodes and give us nutritional information. Some things can look pretty healthy, but a quick scan will tell you that they really aren’t. Plus using apps gives us a way of tracking our progress, so we can see small improvements and they give us some exercise tips.”
So fitness apps get a vote of confidence from the pros. Here are just a few of the best Nicola recommends we take a look at to get a handle on those love handles.
NHS BMI Calculator App (Free on iOS)
The official NHS BMI calculator app makes BMI calculation less of a nightmare. You simply enter your height and weight in imperial or metric, and then you’re given your BMI score. Simple! Well, much simpler than trying to work it out on a calculator anyway. With that information you can figure out how much weight you need to lose or gain in order to improve your health.
Diet Assistant (Free on iOS & Android)
Diet Assistant helps you plan nutritious meals according to your diet aims. When you fire up the app, you choose a plan that defines your aims. You can pick aims such as detoxing your body, cutting down on fat or keeping track of low G.I. food. You then pick a date to start your new diet.
Each of the preset plans also comes with a shopping list, so when you’re mooching around the supermarket you can pick up some tasty, healthy food. Diet Assistant will also help you monitor your weight progress. You can regularly log your weight and even export your weight data to a CSV file and email it to your doctor.
My Fitness Pal Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker (Free on iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile)
My Fitness Pal is the big daddy of diet and calorie tracker apps; according to myfitnesspal.com, over 65 million people have used the website and app, all of whom can’t be wrong, surely?
The app covers the key fitness bases, with My Fitness Pal using a massive food database to track the calorific value of over 3 million foods. The app will remember your favourites and you can save entire meals. With the large database you’re pretty much assured that the app will be able to give you solid data around the calorific value of your meals.
The app also has some exercises that can help you with your fitness goals. You can track your cardio and strength training, measuring your reps in each session. Plus you can add your own custom exercises.
Diet Point (Free on iOS & Android)
Diet Point Weight Loss focuses solely on nutrition, so it does not have the same fitness focus that something like My Fitness Pal has. But Diet Point will help you plan your meals according to a weight loss diet plan. The app features 130 weight loss diet plans and it’ll even send you meal reminders. The meal reminders are probably the most novel feature of the Diet Point app. The app will remind you when it’s time for your next, hopefully healthy, meal.
Diet Point will also give you a dedicated shopping list for each diet plan. This might not stop you getting lost in the supermarket looking for tofu, but it can definitely help keep you on schedule.
Nutracheck Calorie Counter + (iOS & Android, Free)
Calorie Counter + is a calorie counting app that’s UK-focused, which means that you can get better results from your barcode scans, unlike some other apps. You can instantly search through 140,000 different UK foods, and when you’ve picked one you can add it to your food diary.
Unfortunately the free side of this app is a bit limited. There is a 7-day free trial but after that initial week usage limits apply. You can upgrade to full access for £3.99 per month and full memberships start at £8.99 per month.
Noom Coach: Weight Loss (iOS & Android, Free)
Similar to My Fitness Pal, Noom Coach combines a fitness programme, a diet tracker and a coaching system. Noom can help you with training, whilst also providing nutritional advice to help you feel better and be a bit healthier all-round.
The slight difference with Noom to other apps is that, when it works properly, it gives you some coaching. Noom gives you a bit of moral support via personalised fitness challenges and meal logging, so it can help you along the way to your fitness goals. However it won’t help you complete a one-legged squat. No mere app can help with that.
iDrated (iOS, £0.69)
We all know we should drink tons of water where possible, but most of us rarely do that. Thankfully iDrated tracks your water hydration level through the day, so you can see exactly how hydrated (or dehydrated) you actually are.
You can log water you’re drinking in various amounts (including litres or ounces) and you can receive optional notifications that will prompt you to drink, even when the app isn’t running. Once you’ve entered your water intake over a period of time, you can start to compare stats. This doesn’t sound particularly exciting but it’s interesting to chart your water intake along with any increase in fitness.
Lifesum – Lifestyle Tracker & Calorie Counter (iOS & Android, Free)
Lifesum has been showered with accolades, including an award from Apple, since its release.
Judging by its popularity, the awards are well deserved. Lifesum tracks what you eat and how much you exercise every day. Helpfully, it integrates with RunKeeper to track your physical workouts if you have it but it also features an exercise logging system.
Lifesum also supports various diet plans. So if you’re on the 5:2 diet, or low-carb or whatever fad has taken hold this week then Lifesum can support you.
Bodyweight Training: You Are Your Own Gym (iOS & Android, £1.99)
Bodyweight training is very fashionable in fitness circles and it essentially means that you exercise by only using your own bodyweight. This means exercises such as press-ups and squats rather than working with dumbbells or rowing machines.
The great thing about this app is if you can’t, or don’t want to, get to a gym you can still keep in great shape. The exercises are easy to follow and have workouts for the nervous novice all the way up to full-time fitness ninjas.
The app has clear video instructions on each exercise and there are over 200 of them, so you can alternate routines on a regular basis. You can even choose a 10-week fitness programme to help you get in shape. So you may have missed the best of this summer, but you’ll be fit for the next!
Although this app can’t replace actually consulting with a personal trainer, it does give you some great tools for training on the go.
Runkeeper (iOS & Android, Free)
RunKeeper is probably one of the best known and most popular running apps around. It’s an app that can track the distance of your runs, track your pace, elevation and calorie burning rate. So it’s pretty much the mother of all running apps.
If you have an iPhone 5S you can use RunKeeper to track cadence and steps and the app also works with a range of Bluetooth heart rate monitors. The entire list of the sort of things that RunKeeper can keep track of is long, baffling and frankly quite scary!
The app is user-friendly and works well. You can set up a run or jogging session on a treadmill within seconds with a few simple taps.
There are different subscription tiers for RunKeeper. You can take up a RunKeeper Elite subscription for £6.99 per month or £27.99 per year. This is probably only for true running obsessives, as most people can get along with the free tier just fine.