If you like many people are struggling to lose or maintain your weight, one of the most effective tools is to track the number calories you take in and the number of calories you burn.  This is generally a difficult and cumbersome thing to do – what if I eat out? What about pre-prepared foods? How many calories are in that banana anyway?  Luckily for us, the smartphone has paved the way for a number of online calorie trackers to simplify things.

I was recently introduced to “My Fitness Pal” – it’s FREE, online, and available for smartphones.  I have a number of calorie trackers on my phone, always trying them out for patients, and this is by far the best one I’ve seen yet.  They have an enormous database of food to choose from, and if you can’t find the one you’re looking for you can scan the barcode and it will automatically upload (very cool!).  Entering portion size is easy, and you can add in any exercise you’ve done for the day.  They will break down your calories into proteins, carbs, and fat grams which is especially important since the content of your calories is more important the number of your calories.  And every so often they will give you little reminders – “if every day were like today you will reach your goal in 5 weeks”.  Take it from someone who’s spent a lot of time with these apps, this is the easiest and most complete one you’ll find.

The biggest benefit to any tracker is the ability to really see just how much you are eating in a day.  It’s incredibly easy to go over your limit without even thinking about it, and that’s a quick way to sabotage your best efforts in weight loss.