I feel obligated to start this post with a trigger warning for anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder or obsessive food tracking. I do not condone any sort of unhealthy relationship with food, so please do not continue to read this if it will be harmful for you.

We've all had our confrontations with calories, whether it be counting them, hating them (and counting them), or being just barely conscious of the caloric bomb you are putting into your body when you're eating an entire pizza at 3 am after a night out. 

But restricting calories doesn't necessarily make you healthy. What's important is knowing what kind of calories you need to consume for your lifestyle and a general number of calories you should consume each day. We're talking amounts of protein, fats, carbs, and veg. I've compiled a list of health apps that help people lead healthier lifestyles, from the couch potatoes to the marathon runners.


A photo posted by Fooducate (@fooducate) on

I learned about Fooducate through a friend and was really impressed with all of its features. There's lots of health information to keep you occupied after you exhaust your Instagram feed.

User Interface: There's a lot going on, but it's presented in a pleasant way.

What is does: Fooducate hosts a large database with photos and grades for food products. It uses a fun system of points to help you stay on track with calories. There's an online community (good for sharing your health struggles with fellow Fooducators), nutrition articles, and an exchange of healthy recipes that don't taste like feet. 

What I Like: Fooducate gives a lot of feedback and tips—more than the other apps, in my opinion—and offers a comprehensive approach to health.

What I Don't Like: I would say that I'm more of a minimalist when it comes to my health apps, so all of this jazz with the community and nutrition articles doesn't really appeal to me. Not that it isn't nice, I just don't need all the extra studd when I'm trying to input the six M&M cookies that I consumed at lunch.


A photo posted by Justin Hester (@juslawhes) on

I personally enjoy using Cronometer because of how simple it is to use. There are fewer features than Fooducate, focusing mainly on food, macros, exercise, and biometrics. But that way you can focus on the good stuff.

User Interface: The layout of the app is really solid and the macros and nutrient targets are clear on the screen. It's simple and pleasing to the eye.

What is does: You can add new foods and recipes and set nutrient targets, and the food data you enter is broken down into macros. It tells you the percentage of vitamins you need and what you're consuming. Online, you can adjust your macronutrient targets, as well as preferred ratio of macros according to a certain diet (ketogenic, paleo, 801010, etc.).

What I Like: It's very pleasant to use and aesthetically pleasing. I like being conscious of my macros and it's a fun game to try to hit that 100% on nutrient targets. It really breaks down the macros to the mgs, so you feel like a scientist with all of the data. Also, I've been using this app for a while so there may be some bias here. 

What I Don't Like: There isn't an option to organize the food you input into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. It also costs $2.99.


A photo posted by Lifesum (@lifesum) on

I really like Lifesum because it is a calorie-tracking app that works to promote a healthy mentality about food. It also has a pleasant presentation that makes it nice to use.

User Interface: EXCELLENT. Really pretty.

What it does: It keeps you in line by offering a suggested range of calories and macros that you should try to heed. It also has lots of suggestions to improve your health habits. Lifesum offers health plans and diets with recipes based on your lifestyle preferences. They also feature a grading scale for food items and the combination of those items that make up your meals.

What I Like: Lifesum was the most conscious of encouraging healthy habits versus the simple calories-in/calories-out idea—I am very impressed with it. With many health apps, it's easy to become susceptible to an unhealthy mentality.

This app gives off more positive and supportive vibes by talking more about being healthy than losing weight. It also rates each of your meals based on how much you eat and what you eat—meaning if you don't eat enough, you get a low grade.

What I Don't Like: The units for the food are strange and inflexible. Where my US standard measurements at? Also, you need to have a premium account to access many of the features that the free version of other apps already have.

My Fitness Pal

A photo posted by MyFitnessPal (@myfitnesspal) on

My Fitness Pal was the first health app I ever used, so I'm getting a bit nostalgic here. 

User Interface: Pretty plain and simple to use.

What it does: You can set goals for macros and workouts, access links to health articles on their blog, and link up to devices you want in your journey to healthy. For fledgling food-trackers, you'll get reminders if you start forgetting to track your food/exercise habits. Taking after Tinder, it offers a swipe-right option to quickly add foods that you want in your life.

What I Like: It offers good insight on your health habits.

What I Don't Like: You have to explore a bit to find the features you want to use, such as the macros and nutrients chart. There's nothing special that makes me prefer this app over the others.

Noom Coach  

Noom Coach is simple with no funny business. 

User Interface: Very clean and straightforward.

What it does: Your food tracking is broken down into meals, and the app analyzes each meal and includes suggestions on which of the foods you input you should eat more or less of. There's also a fun option to be matched with an online coach.

What I Like: It's easy to add foods (swipe right!).

What I Don't Like: This app lacks the comprehensive run-down on personal health that the other apps have, such as macros.

I've had good experiences using health apps because they help me keep track of the foods I eat and the balance of those foods (or lack thereof) that I'm achieving each day. It prompts me to be more conscious about the kinds of foods that I'm putting into my body and their nutritional value. I've learned to focus more on the foods themselves and how I feel than the total number of calories at the end of the day, which has helped me achieve a healthier lifestyle (even with dining hall desserts).