(CBS) — Before you take that next bite, take a picture, scan it and log it. If you have a smart phone, it’s easier than ever to drop those pounds.

Researchers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital found that people who use an app that tracks calories and activities lost about 15 pounds.

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“I encourage all of my patients to use some form of tracking app,” says Holly Herrington, a registered dietician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Because we know that it works over and over.”

The “Fat Secret” app did the trick for Jessica Roubitchek.

“It’s perfect, because it’s really the whole picture,” she says.

That app, combined with Google Fit, which keeps track of Jessica’s steps, has helped her lose about five pounds.

“It’s been easy, it’s free, it’s intuitive. I can pull it up on the computer, I can pull it up on my phone,” Roubitchek says.

For her and many others, the technology is holding her accountable, and she’s less likely to cheat.

“When I’m not logging it, for some reason I feel more of a freedom to just put a little something extra in my mouth,” Roubitchek says.

One app that makes it incredibly easy to track and log your food is “SparkPeople.” All you do is scan the barcode.

“And voila, makes it so much easier than manually having to go in and type in,” Herrington says. “No math involved at all.”

“Pact” requires you to put your money where your mouth is, by betting on whether you meet you goal.

“So, you’re putting money into a pool with your friends or with strangers and every time you track whether it’s your food or your activity you can lose money or you can gain money,” Herrington said.

“Diet Assistant” is an app for people who have no idea where to start.

If you’re really into logging pictures versus calories, check out “My Food Diary.”

“You can take pictures of your food all day long,” Herrington says. “We’ve also seen people be very successful just by visually seeing their food and seeing how much they’ve eaten.”

The key is finding the app that’s right for you.

“I thought, ‘I really need to log this if I’m going to stay accountable, if I’m going to keep the weight off.’ It’s so easy, I just need to do it,” Roubitchek says.

If you’re looking for motivation, the people who used diet apps in the Northwestern study kept the weight off for a year when combined with nutrition classes and exercise.




-3 million foods in data base+ bar code scanner

– Exercise demonstrations

– Heath and fotness articles, recipes

-Use points as motivation against other members




-3 Kinds of “pacts” you can make:

-Veggie Pact- eat more fruits and vegetables

– Exercise Pact- work out more

– Food tracking pact- track food (using MyFitnessPal)

-Incentive is money- you put in an amount of money into the app and if you meet your food or activity goals you get paid. If not, you lose money and it goes to other members that did reach their goals.


My Food Diary


-80,00+ foods in database

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-Tracts all the major componts of the Nutrition Facts label (Calories, fat, sat fat, carbs, fiber, sugar, iron, Vitaman A, Vitiman C, calcium, etc.)

-Includes exercise log, body log, and comprehensive reports.

-Community component with a forum for discussions/ encouragement and group challenges

-personal notes section


Diet Hero (Cost $1.99)


-Input the foods availblle in the kitchen and preferences and then auto generate a well balanced diet based off weight goals

-different than most apps because doesn’t require calorie counting

-tracks progress and reports with charts and tables

-automatically generates a shopping list


Diet Assistant

-Diet Plans, shopping lists

-weight tracker


Calorie Counter PRO


-Tracks meals, activity, weight, water, etc.

-Food bar code scanner

-Includes daily notes and charts




-Shows you exactly what 200 calories looks like

-No exercise log



Other apps:

Nutrition Menu

7 Minute Menu

Calorie King


Noom Coach




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