Top 10 Tips on How to Use Weight Loss Apps for iPhone and Android Smartphones — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at BlogHer)
A recent study from Northwestern University found that using a mobile app to track eating and activity actually helped people lose an average of 15 pounds and keep it off for at least a year.
TIP #1 — Find a Weight-Loss or Food Tracking App. on your iPhone or Smartphone, by going to your App Store. Your app should be able to track your calories and nutritional information, and also have a place to track your weight. There are a bunch of them, and many are free. Here are a few that I have actually tried myself, which have free versions…
If you are using one of the many commercial weight loss programs (like Weight-Watchers, NutriSystem, or MediFast), they all have there own food tracking applications.
TIP #2 — Since these applications are free, download two or three so you can compare them – this will help you decide which one you will want to stick with.
TIP #3 — Most apps will begin by having you enter specific information about yourself (weight, height, etc.) in order to determine the number of calories you need to eat each day to sustain your current weight, and then they tell you how many calories you should eat a day if you want to lose weight. Remember, losing weight slowly is best. So, for most people, don’t set your calories for more than a pound per week of weight loss.
TIP #4 — Learn how to use the code reader to quickly add foods, while also seeing their nutritional information…this is a real time saver.
TIP #5 — I find it helpful to use my food tracking app to plan for the day ahead. At the end of each day, I fill in my next day of meals (you don’t have to stick to it, but it helps to feel good about the following day). Then the following day, I can easily make changes or stick with what I had planned.
TIP #6 — Most of these food tracking apps also have a place to put in exercise (even a small amount of exercise can help you lose weight faster). You will see when you enter your exercise into your app that it will give you the number of calories burned. You can use this information in three ways…
- If you want to be able to eat more that day, then use the number of calories you burn as your guide for adding additional food, and you will still be able to sustain your weight loss. Your app will actually do the calculation and add it to the number of calories allotted for that particular day.
- You can also use exercise to help you lose weight faster, by not eating additional food to make up for those calories burned during exercise. In that case, you will see on your app that you have additional calories allotted to eat…simply don’t eat the additional calories that day.
- You could also do a little of both (this is the one I like to do). Say you exercised and burned 300 calories; you could eat an additional 150 calories that day and also use the other 150 as a boost for your weight loss. It’s a win, win.
Remember, you don’t have to exercise to lose weight, but you will lose it faster if you do. And even as little as 10 or 15 minutes of exercise per day, is very beneficial for your overall health.
TIP #7 — Another benefit for using a meal planning app is that it gives you the ability to track other important nutrients as well as calories. The one you may find most surprising is your sodium intake. We know that if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, your doctor will recommend that you cut down on your sodium (salt) intake. But even if you never put a pinch of salt on any meal, you may still find your sodium level double or even triple the recommended level (usually this will be due to a processed or canned food that you can easily limit in the future).
TIP #8 — Some of these apps also have a way to record and track your measurements, and even a way to take a before and after photo of yourself. Knowing this information is helpful, it will give you a feeling of accomplishment when you see yourself beginning to lose inches off your body.
TIP #9 — You will notice very quickly when you begin to record your meals, that processed foods pack the most fat and calories. Eating “real food” is much more healthy and will also allow you to eat more food (and ultimately that means you will feel less hungry on your diet. For example — You can basically eat an unlimited amount of vegetables while only adding limited amounts of calories and virtually no fat. For more information on healthy foods and weight loss, see my post #1 Weigt-Loss Tip.
TIP #10 — Of course the most important tip to remember about weight-loss apps, is to actually use your app. It’s not a big deal if you forget to use the app for a day or two, but in the long run, using the app will greatly improve your weight-loss success.
There you have it…You now have a very important tool for weight-loss success.
If you like these tips, you will love my new book (coming in November) Love the Diet, Lose the Fat. For a pre-release offer to get the book for $1, go to the Love the Diet website and sign-up with just your email address.
*image at top of page from forbes.com