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MyFitnessPal, Lose It, Noom, & Weight Watchers: Comparing calorie-counting apps
When it comes to counting (and cutting) calories, tracking is all about learning how to make healthier choices. The first choice to make is which app will put you on the road to success. We compare some of the top names in this guide of MyFitnessPal vs Lose It, Weight Watchers, and Noom.
Why use a calorie tracking app?
Tracking calories for weight loss comes down to basic accounting — calories in minus calories burned. Apps like Lose it, MyFitnessPal, Noom, and WW (formerly Weight Watchers) do the work for you, calculating your caloric budget, daily intake, and real-time deficit. In short, they pair third-grade math skills with a grown-up diary. This practice helps you understand exactly what you are eating, inevitably upping accountability and sharpening mindfulness.
How do calorie-tracking apps work?
Instead of users manually adding up the numbers on the back of food packages, tracking apps offer shortcuts like food libraries, barcode scanning, recipe banks, and more. These time-saving features allow you to quickly record food with much less effort. The apps then use your logged foods to calculate your caloric intake for the day and compare it to the numbers you need to be hitting to reach your weight goals.
By streamlining the process, these apps help users turn calorie tracking into a healthy, sustainable habit.
Tracking apps also offer additional resources, including fitness features, additional motivation, coaching components, and even social communities of like-minded users. While comparing MyFitnessPal vs Lose It vs Noom vs WW, there are many aspects of calorie tracking to consider, including each app’s main focus, price, and personal preferences.
Before you proceed: The dangers of counting calories
Tracking calories can be helpful, but they are not the only factor to consider when trying to lose weight. Diet quality, exercise, stress and more, all impact how our bodies process the foods we eat. Users of all calorie counting apps should make sure their focus is always on making sustainable lifestyle improvements to reach their healthy weight.
It’s important to note that for some, counting calories can even lead to a dangerous and unhealthy obsession. The practice can be especially triggering for individuals suffering from eating disorders. Please speak to your health care provider before proceeding if you have any concerns.
What does each app cost?
Price may play a factor in choosing which app is best for you. Both Lose It and MyFitnessPal offer free versions of their services with the option to upgrade to a premium experience. Noom and WW (Weight Watchers) require a fee.
Lose It (aka “Lose It!”)
Price: Free / $39.99 per year
Lose It offers a free version with many of the basic features you’ll need to get started tracking. At a nominal cost per month, Lose It Premium offers a deeper look at the foods you log and more options for customizing macro goals. Premium users can also divide their daily input into seven meals with custom titles.
Price: Free / $9.99 per month / $49.99 per year
MyFitnessPal provides a free version with the main tools needed for calorie tracking. For about $50 per year, a MyFitnessPal Premium package with the tagline “Your Goals, Your Way,” includes deeper insight into nutrition and a more personalized experience, not to mention a complete absence of pesky ads.
Price: Prices vary based on each personal plan, up to $59.99 per month
Noom’s pricing structure is unique. Users are quoted a price based on their customized plan after taking a lengthy quiz about their goals and habits. The duration of each plan is dependent on how much weight the user wants to lose and how their plan is structured. Noom frequently offers free trials and deals, and the more months you sign up for, the greater your monthly fee will be discounted.
WW (Weight Watchers)
Price: 14-day free trial / Memberships starting at $3.38 per week
The WW app is included with all Weight Watchers memberships, and there are multiple options for membership structure. A strictly digital plan is the least expensive option, followed by the Digital 360 option with more features, WW coaches, and a community, all on the WW app. Finally, the Unlimited Workshops + Digital plan is the most expensive option starting around $7 per week. It includes in-person workshops and one-on-one coaching.
MyFitnessPal vs Lose It vs Noom vs (WW) Weight Watchers: At a glance
By nature, calorie counting can be tedious and time-consuming. Apps make tracking food easier, but how do you know which is right for you? With the same basic features, apps like Lose it, MyFitnessPal, Noom, and WW differ in the type of experience they provide.
Lose it: Committed to the basics, Lose It offers a no-nonsense approach to logging calories. The clean and simple interface makes tracking easy to maintain, while quick look feedback keeps users motivated. As a standalone calorie counting app, Lose It knocks it out of the park.
MyFitnessPal: If connectivity is your priority, MyFitnessPal is the app for you. MyFitnessPal seamlessly syncs to a large library of fitness apps, trackers, and other devices and even offers custom workouts and guided fitness planning. It also boasts a very active community of users.
Noom: For a psychological approach to weight loss, Noom offers a robust behavioral change component, including mini-lessons, certified wellness coaches, and user support groups. This app emphasizes helping users create healthy relationships with food for long-term, sustainable weight loss.
WW (Weight Watchers): With a unique point-counting system, the Weight Watchers app encourages users to make the bulk of their meals healthy foods but also allows room for indulging. In the WW program, every food item is assigned point values which are then tracked to create a balanced diet aimed at steady weight loss.
What are their common features?
At sign-up, each of the apps generates a personalized plan based on a variety of data points related to your body composition, habits, and goals. The depth of this process varies from app to app, but they all at least ask for the basics: your age, height, weight, and activity level. Once you’re set up, these same basic features can be found on all of the apps:
- Food and nutrition tracking
- Weight goal setting and tracking
- Progress reports and feedback
- Professional guidance and resources
- Extensive food database
- Healthy recipes
- Community support
How does each app track food/calories?
Tracking on Lose It: The Lose It app tracks users’ caloric intake using the nutritional values of the foods they log. Depending on their personalized weight loss plan, each user is allotted a daily calorie budget. Additionally, Lose It allows users to set macro goals to ensure a balanced diet.
Tracking on MyFitnessPal: MyFitnessPal app also keeps track of users’ calories based on the items they add to their food diary. Like on Lose It, users maintain a personalized weight loss plan by sticking to a custom daily calorie goal. MyFitnessPal also allows users to subtract exercise calories.
Tracking on Noom: With an emphasis on shaping users’ relationships with food, Noom tracks users’ calories but also groups foods into three categories. Green foods are the least calorically dense (think fruits and veggies), followed by yellow foods (eggs, poultry, beans, etc.), and finally red foods (treats, cheese, nuts, and more treats). The idea behind this system is to encourage users to maintain their budget by loading up on items from the green and yellow groups.
Tracking on WW: On Weight Watchers, instead of logging straight up calories, users log SmartPoints. These points correspond to food and drink items, with certain healthy foods (like specific fruits and vegetables) valued at zero. Users acquire a personalized SmartPoint budget based on their weight loss plan and create meals within the parameters of that budget.
What sets them apart?
Once you play around on each of these apps, it’s obvious they all share the common goal of helping users lead healthier lives. Specific features and focuses are what set them apart and should determine which app you choose.
All four apps offer educational resources and content. Noom takes it one step further with a diet plan developed with input from behavioral psychologists. Noom’s color-coded food system and mini-courses both center on teaching users to make healthy choices without restrictions. The educational component of the app, which focuses on nutrition, mindfulness, and behavior, is fully integrated into each user’s plan, rather than offered as supplemental material. Noom users also have access to goal specialists for regular check-ins to talk through their weight loss hurdles and discuss the app’s lessons.
All four of these calorie-tracking apps are available to both Android and iPhone users and offer varying compatibility with many popular fitness trackers, including Fitbit and Garmin devices. However, when it comes to app integration, MyFitnessPal stands above the pack. MyFitnessPal is compatible with over 50 fitness and lifestyle apps.
For the most straightforward experience and most user-friendly interface, the layout of Lose It keeps the focus on calorie counting and personal progress. Logging food is very easy, and cute item illustrations make it easy to visualize your day’s meals. Detailed charts provide at-a-glance progress reports and create a positive feedback loop. A monthly calendar view celebrates how many days in a row you log. If your hope is for a basic calorie calculator, plus line and bar graphs for noting your progress, Lose It has you covered.
As mentioned above, the WW app is intricately tied to the WW (formerly Weight Watchers) program, and in many ways, the basis of that program is community support. Depending on your membership, you’ll have access to an extensive community of users, plus one-on-one coaching and virtual or in-person workshops. Each of the tracking apps in this article offers a social aspect, but it’s hard to compete with the structure of WW.
For the basics: If you’re looking to cut through the noise and simply count calories, a free option is likely enough. With that in mind, your decision is down to MyFitnessPal vs Lose It. For a simple, straightforward calorie counter that will keep you focused, go with Lose It. Easy-to-use features and big picture insights encourage you to trust the process.
For a fitness focus: If you’re keen to deep dive into an app with a ton of depth and connectivity, check out MyFitnessPal. As the name suggests, MyFitnessPal offers loads of resources to help you take stock of your fitness. It also boasts one of the world’s largest online fitness communities. While the other apps do offer a fitness component, none are as thoroughly focused as MyFitnessPal.
Don’t miss: The best fitness trackers you can buy
For a broader experience: Yo-yo diets, slumps, and desperate ransacking of the pantry for that half bag of chocolate chips are all too familiar. If, like many dieters, you’ve been through it all before, it might be time to try a different approach. Noom doesn’t just count calories; it attempts to reshape how you think about the foods you eat. Choose Noom to get to the bottom of behaviors that might be holding you back.
For the tried and true: When comparing apps like Noom vs Weight Watchers, it’s hard not to consider WW’s staying power. The program has been effectively helping users lose weight for decades. Even if you don’t personally know Oprah, you probably do know someone who has tried it. Plus, the team at WW consistently works to innovate their algorithms and structure (including the rebranded name, WW), and the pool of supportive, past users is unmatched.