Tis’ the season of New Year’s resolutions. But let’s face it, most well-intentioned resolutions collapse exhausted, sweaty and famished just weeks into that new gym membership. Don’t be discouraged - there’s help literally at your fingertips. With a smartphone and various free apps, those with holiday poundage and slothful instincts can get a boost toward setting realistic goals and staying on track.
Although there is more to healthy eating than counting calories, losing weight is at its core about sustaining a net caloric deficit over a period of time.
Calorie counters help track calories consumed and burned, and help you progress toward reaching your goals. Studies have shown that people who keep a food diary are more successful at losing weight, too.
Here are two helpful, free dieting apps, available for both iPhone and Android smartphones:
- Lose It! – Enter your age, height, gender, current weight and weight loss goals, and a daily calorie budget is calculated for you, with reminders to enter foods consumed for the day. You can also join an optional social network to get the support of friends and peers.
- Shop Well – For those with specific food restrictions or health concerns, this app lets you create healthy grocery lists, food preferences and goals. Barcoded food items can be scanned and scored on their match to your needs with suggested healthy alternatives. Standard nutritional information is also provided.
Activity is the near universal prescription for health and most of us aren’t active enough. Experts suggest taking at least 6,000 steps daily for good health, and 10,000 daily for weight loss. Instead of clipping an actual pedometer to your belt, you can download a virtual pedometer into your smartphone that does the basics.
- Pacer – For those who want to keep it simple, this pedometer counts your steps, activity time and provides an estimate on calories burned. You may be amazed at how much walking it takes to clock those recommended 10,000 steps.
- Pedometer++ – Counts steps with no impact on battery life. Requires an iPhone 5s.
- RunKeeper – Tracks speed, distance traveled and elevation change on walks, runs and bike rides using the GPS feature of your phone. The app also charts your course on a map and lets you race virtually with peers thought its social networking feature.
Ideally, strength training should be a part of everyone’s fitness plan to keep bones strong and prevent loss of muscle mass with age, which can contribute to infirmity. All you need is 7-minutes.
- 7-Minute Workout Apps from the New York Times – A set of 12 scientifically vetted high-intensity exercises that use your own body weight as resistance. Can be done anywhere and can be repeated multiple times for those who want more - perfect for time-crunched overachievers with six-pack abs on their mind.
Care at UC San Diego Health
Weight Management Program