Helping you strike the right balance of motivation without feeling like a chore.
The key to losing weight is simply working at a calorie deficit – burning more than you consume. Conversely, if you’re trying to gain muscle, you’ll use these apps to measure macros (carbs, protein, fat) and ensure you’re eating enough. To make the whole meal logging process a little less tedious, all these apps have barcode scanners.
Lifesum | iOS, Android | Free/£2.99+ per month
My favourite at the moment is Lifesum, which includes the same basic features as MyFitnessPal while running smoothly and being more visually appealing. It has a quicj and easy barcode scanner, and the ability as with the others to add your own food and meals.
S Health | iOS, Android | Free
Designed by Samsung, this app is a totally free, all-in-one solution for tracking meals, water, exercise, caffeine, steps, and much more. I’ve used it for months and it’s entirely ad-free and every feature – even micronutrients – is available for free! Although there’s no barcode scanner yet sadly, so I sync S Health and Lifesum together for the best of both worlds.
MyFitnessPal | iOS, Android | Free/£3.33+ per month
This is the most popular app for its comprehensive feature set (although some are premium), the ability to link to exercise apps, and awesome barcode scanner.
Frankly, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to running; it largely depends on what brand/ecosystem you prefer, because many of them, such as Runtastic, have a suite of other apps to cater to your every fitness need.
Strava | iOS, Android | Free/£3.75+ per month
Strava is challenge-based, running club centred app, allowing you to analyse various segments of your run (or cycle) in detail. There’s also a good chance your fitness-freak friends use Strava, so bear the social side in mind too.
Runtastic | iOS, Android | Free/£3.75+ per month
If you’re not bothered about challenges, then I recommend Runtastic as being the best overall experience among a very crowded market. Others are Endomondo and MapMyRun.
S Health | iOS, Android | Free
One of its many features is being able to track runs, as well as walks, skiing, tennis, yoga, and literally everything else. It works very well, and again is completely free.
Nike Running Club | iOS, Android | Free
At the moment I use Nike Running Club because it goes with the Nike workout app, and it has the nifty bonus of tracking how many miles each of your running shoes has accrued! I may well switch to one of the others at some point, though.
Workouts (ordered from lightweight to serious):
Sworkit | iOS, Android | 30 day trial/£6 per month
A paid app, I like how Sworkit has a range of strength, cardio, yoga, and stretching, any of which you can select and choose the exact length you want that workout to be. It also has long-term plans if you’re the commitment type, monthly challenges and more.
7 Minute Workouts | iOS, Android | Free/£2.39 ad-free
Seven minutes a day is supposedly scientifically proven to assist weight loss and improve cardiovascular function. This free app is great because it has both the classic, full-body 7-minute workout, and abs, butt, legs, arms, and stretching versions. There is also a 30-day challenge, and there is no monthly subscription fee.
30 Day Fitness Challenges | iOS, Android | Free/£2.69 ad-free
As the title suggests, month long challenges targeting either full body, abs, butt, arm, or legs. They start short, and ramp up as you progress. Being a 30-day challenge, you do ideally need time to work out every day.
Nike Fitness Club | iOS, Android | Free
Apart from the trainers all sporting Nike gear, the app’s completely free. It offers 4, 8, and 12 week training plans, or individual workouts targeting specific muscle groups, which is what I use. You can select workouts based on difficulty, length, and equipment required (most are bodyweight only).
Just 6 Weeks | iOS, Android | £1.99
Again, this is a finite plan with clear end-goal: to get you fitter by slowly making you perform more push-ups, sit-ups, squats, bench dips, dips, pull-ups, and longer planks. It paid app but once you buy it, you own it! No subscription. So if you ever want to reach 100 push-ups in six weeks, give it a try.
Runtastic Results | iOS, Android | 7 day trial/£4.42 per month
This is a 12-week personalised plan that you pay monthly for, but is cheaper than 3 months at the gym. It’s a step up from the other apps in terms of being for more serious users – workout plan with videos, and nutrition guide. I stopped using this after about 5 weeks because the workouts ended up lasting too long and because I’m such a weak quitter. Paid Runastic users get access to all their apps, which is quite a long list and includes the running app mentioned earlier – definitely worth a look!
Freeletics Bodyweight | iOS, Android | Free/£5.11 per month
The free bodyweight app grants access to a few single workouts that act more as a trial for the full workout program. Paid users can expect a personalised training plan with videos, as well as nutritional recipes and meal plan. The subscription also gives access to Freeletics Gym, which gives workouts and plans for use at the gymnasium, and their Freeletics Running, with its training plans and guided interval training. A feature I like is the “2×2” option, for those with only 2 by 2 meters of space. Bodyweight competes directly with Runtastic Results, and I haven’t used this enough to compare, but it does appear to offer a comprehensive package.
Yummly | iOS, Android | Free
Yummly takes the cake here as favourite overall app, as not only can users set dietary preferences and add ingredients to a shopping list, but it’s also visually appealing and boasts a huge catalogue of approachable recipes. The more you click ‘Yum’ the more it’ll tailor your suggestions.
Kitchen Stories elegantly resembles a cookbook for the more sophisticated, while SideChef has all the tile-based glory you expect, with the addition of hands-free mode which I could not get to work at all. Lastly, Tastemade features videos alongside all instructions for the visual learners.
If you’re into socialising, Cookpad trumps the rest due to its rich library of user-generated recipes. You can publish your own, and like, comment, and otherwise interact with the community. Browse by diet, main ingredient, difficulty and more. The quality just doesn’t feel as premium, so if Yummly doesn’t float your boat I’d recommend just finding recipes on sites like BBC Food.
There are so many health and fitness apps (and I haven’t even gone into period trackers), but if you keep it simple and don’t overcommit to tracking every milliliter of water, you’ll be in a much better position to keep going. Lifesum is great for food, as is S Health (plus they sync together), and both track water so you don’t need a separate app for that. All running apps are very pleasant to use, and it boils down to challenge-based enthusiast tracker Strava vs simple Runtastic. When it comes to home workouts, they either focus on individual workouts or long-term plans – Nike fitness club is an intuitive and free place to start, and features appearances from major athletes. After all that exercise, cook up a storm in Yummly.