Android Diet Apps with the Most Bang for Your Buck

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There Is No Best. There Is Only Best for You.

Smart watch for Healthy life
Smart watch for Healthy life. Getty Images Credit: exdez

They may name Android releases after candy and snack foods, but that doesn't mean you can't use your Android phone to keep track of what you eat and help with your diet plan. There are a lot of Android apps designed around the idea of weight loss and food tracking, and the choices are overwhelming. Originally, I chose one paid app, one free app, and one freemium app. (Freemium apps are free to use but unlock more features if you pay for them.) However, SparkPeople is now free, so everything on this list is free to try. I could not find a paid dieting app I'd currently recommend. 

There Is No Best. There Is Only Best for You.

This list is not in order of "bestness," because diet is a very individual thing, and I don't believe there's any one app that will be the best app for everyone. Instead, I wanted to give you a few great options and look at the functions and features available in these apps. Do you need a little encouragement? Do you find exact calorie counts confusing? Do you want integration with your smart scale or your activity tracker? There's an app for that. Rather than finding yourself paralyzed by all the choices (and thus putting off your diet), try to think of the minimum criteria you need and satisfice rather than trying to find the perfect app. 

Another thing. I did not choose apps to support a specific diet plan, such as Weight Watchers, Adkins, or South Beach. Rather these are general calorie and dieting apps meant to support a wider variety of users.  

I'm not a medical professional, and you should consult with one before you start a diet. 

On an Android tablet instead of a phone? No worries. These apps should work with both, and the Google Play store should tell you if it won't. Speaking of which, if you're using a Kindle Fire, many of these apps are available from Amazon. If they're not, you may be able to install them anyway.  

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Noom Fitness Coach

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Noom app giving an advice screen. Noom

Noom has a suite of apps for both Android and iPhone. On the Android side, Noom Weight Loss combines with Noom Walk and Noom Cardio to give you calorie/weight tracking along with activity tracking and encouragement. Their weight loss app is a freemium app, meaning that it is free to download the basic app, but for a monthly in-app subscription purchase, you can unlock more features and greater personalization. Rather than jumping in feet first, that gives you a chance to decide if the extra features would be a help. Noom claims that pro subscribers lose weight twice as fast, but I suspect that's a bit of selection bias at play.  

Noom lives on mobile and is not a website community with a mobile version, as are some of the apps we'll explore. That's great news for calorie tracking, but perhaps not as great for forums and social support where you may want to type in a lot more text. Noom is built to work well for phone users from the start, and the interface is very easy to use. The system uses Android's notifications to remind you to track meals and work out. It remembers what you usually eat and offers those as easy picks. It also gives you feedback on how healthy your meal choices are using a "red, yellow, green" visual shortcut. 

Where to get it: Google Play

Price: Freemium. Free for basic, $9.99 in-app purchase for "pro" version. 

Features: Calorie tracking, step tracking (phone-as-pedometer), social sharing, advice, workout suggestions, manual weight tracking, recipes

Does not (currently) sync with devices like Fitbit, Aria, or Withings 

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SparkPeople Android App

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There are many different screens and options for SparkPeople. SparkPeople

SparkPeople pre-dates Android phones. It began as a support website, and that's still where most users will probably want to use it. The $3.99 app is probably only a good value if you are an existing SparkPeople user and already comfortable with the website interface. Otherwise, try out the website first, and then decide if the system is good for you. There are a lot of options with SparkPeople - perhaps too many, so try not to get overwhelmed and feel that you have to use all of them. 

SparkPeople has been branching out with its own activity tracker that clips to your shoe, but they also support syncing with Fitbit activity trackers and Aria smart scales, so if you own any of those things, you can avoid manually entering the items. The app includes a barcode scanner for calorie tracking, but that assumes you primarily eat packaged meals and have access to the box. You can still manually enter items from a nutrition database.  

SparkPeople uses both social forums and point/badge gamification as motivators. 

Price: Free

Where to get it: Google Play

Features: Calorie tracking, weight tracking, activity tracking, bar code scanner, advice, social sharing, badges. Syncs with Fitbit, Aria, and SparkPeople activity tracker.

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MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal
MyFitnessPal. Courtesy MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a free (ad sponsored) app that offers calorie tracking, a bar code scanner (assuming your food is pre-packaged and you have access to the box) and syncing with a wide variety of smart scales, activity trackers, and even apps including Fitbit, BodyMedia, Aria, Withings, iHealth, Fitbug, Endomondo, and more. In fact, I think it's the one app that is most likely to sync with your fitness gadget. 

The nutrition database could be a little faster if it auto populated while you were typing, but it does let you save your favorites for quick entry if you tend (like most of us) to eat the same things for a lot of meals. It also lets you easily see how many calories you have left and how your choices will impact your progress. The nutrition field offers both raw data and a simplified pie chart view of your nutrition intake. 

You can add friends if you'd like some social pressure to make better choices. 

Price: Free (Ad supported) 

Where to get itGoogle Play

Features: Calorie tracking, FitBit sync