Everybody likes free stuff.
You don’t need to pay for tools to help your weight loss journey – as long as you know where to look.
Weight loss tools are suitable for people who like numbers, and like keeping track of things. Some of us prefer to just “wing it”.
Here are 10 of the best on-line tools for weight loss.
It’s hard to argue with 12 million people.
That’s how many have used SparkPeople – a free web service that offers more than many similar paid services. The site has everything (food and weight tracking, exercise demos and plans, and a lot of social networking) – in fact so many features that it’s quite overwhelming.
The success of the program lead to a book being published: The Spark.
Fitocracy is a web app (iPhone app also available) that is strictly for fitness goals.
Covering all kinds of workout and exercise tracking you also get points, levels, challenges, and… quests! Turning fitness into one big social game.
A free service similar to Sparkpeople, Fitday also offers premium services (ad-free). A very popular tracker.
Freedieting’s weight loss calculators
Quick and simple: the calculators at freedieting cover most things you’ll need — daily calories, macro-nutrient levels. Even has calculators if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. BONUS: Calorie calculator does metric as well as US units and handles zig-zagging calories.
We even published a success story: Russell lost 80 pounds using these calculators.
Slimkicker is a newer web app that “gamifies” the dieting process.
You can set challenges (e.g. no snacks after dinner) and get awarded points and compete with others. You can also track foods and calories.
MyFitnessPal is a big community site offering all kinds of logging and tracking for food and exercise.
Also has apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows phones.
Not strictly for weight loss – but for anything where you want to change.
Daily Challenge helps you set well… daily challenges… It’s fully integrated with social media and comes in all flavors (web app, smartphone app, iPad etc).
Lose It offers recipes, social networking, goals, diet and exercise tracking.
So much choice! What does one do?
In it’s beta stage – Swole.me is a web app that attempts to dream up a meal plan for you based on your daily calorie allowance.
Difficult to do when there are so many factors governing our food choices – but worth a look.
Other notable mentions:
- Superbetter – A game the helps you to get better at tackling challenges.
- RunKeeper – 6 million users. Lots of running.
- MakeMyPlate – Entirely visual approach – drag and drop foods onto your plate and it does the rest.
- DailyBurn – monthly subscription but offers access to personal trainers and some stunning workout video guides.
- DailyPlate – free diet tracker from livestrong.com
- Nutrition Data – Large nutrition database.
- Calorie King – Large diet tracker.
Suggested improvements for some of the above
- User location
One major change I’d suggest is that the information provided takes into account the user’s location. Once the preferences have been updated and a country selected, the lists of foods & drinks would default to those available in the chosen region. Measurements would also be noted in metric / imperial dependent upon location.
- Generic foods
When searching for food items, the default seems to be for highly-processed meals, rather than their generic equivalents. To get an idea of just how awkward it can be to find ‘real food’, try looking for something simple such as a ham sandwich.
- Learning the foods you like
The simpler these sites become, the more likely they are to be used regularly. One thing that would speed up the daily entry of data would be a question or two, based on your previous consumption. Something along the lines of ‘You usually have steamed rice with this. Would you like me to add it for you?’ whenever you go to add a chicken breast or a piece of fish.
How big is a portion?
All of these sites have one thing in common – the notion of a standard portion size for a particular food. You’ll quickly see that they refer to a serving of green peas, a handful of almonds or a cup of green tea. Just how big is a serving/handful/cup? Have a look at these :