Mobile technology exists for just about everything these days. As Apple would say, “There’s an app for that.” Mobile weight-loss apps are proliferating the app market—and consumers are readily adopting this technology as a means to help them reach their weight-loss goals. But can an app really help you lose weight? Studies suggest yes.
Mobile Apps and Online Support are More Affordable
It used to be that if you needed some external support to help you lose weight, hiring a one-on-one consultant was probably the best option. But these one-on-one services and consultations can hit the checkbook hard—leading to many struggling dieters going it on their own, and sometimes failing to reach their goals for health and wellness.
Today, mobile technology has changed all that. With apps available ranging from free to a few bucks, it’s easier than ever for dieters to monitor their caloric intake, keep track of pounds lost, estimate the calories burned with a variety of exercises and much more.
Counting Calories and Monitoring Exercise Proven to Aid in Weight Loss
A study conducted by Northwestern Medicine found that people using apps to track eating habits and activity lost an average of 15 pounds more—and kept it off for at least a year–than similar people not using weight-loss applications.
However, successful participants were also attending classes about nutrition and exercise in addition to using the monitoring application. The app by itself wasn’t as successful. This indicates that while technology is helpful in aiding weight-loss efforts, dieters really need all the tools at their disposal to lose weight and keep it off.
This particular study included 69 overweight and obese adults with an average age of 58, participating in the Veterans Affairs weight-loss support program, MOVE! Most of the participants (85.5 percent) were men. The findings are interesting because it demonstrates the importance of technology in enhancing existing weight-loss efforts, but also shows that those more traditional methods used in conjunction are what really creates high-level and sustained weight-loss success.
Participants using the app along with regular classes on exercise and nutrition lost an average of 15 pounds, while those using the app alone lost an average of 8.6 pounds. Perhaps most interesting is the finding that participants who attended classes but did not use the weight-loss app didn’t lose any weight at all.
Mobile Weight-Loss Support Apps Enhance Motivation
Another study provides some insight as to why weight loss apps are helpful in sustained weight loss. This study included 58 adult female participants using a partial meal replacement program (MRP), some of whom were assigned to either the support app group or a control group. Those using the support app reported a mood boost and found themselves more engaged than those in the control group.
Additionally, participants not using the support app noted a decrease in commitment by the completion of the study at week eight. Control group participants reported feeling less motivated to continue with their efforts and a decrease in the amount of effort they were willing to put in to a continued weight-loss program.
Apps Keep You on Track with Exercise, Boosting Moods and Relieving Stress
Exercise releases endorphins that boost your natural mood. Apps can help you stay on track by encouraging you to stay active even when you don’t quite feel like it, leading to overall enhanced feelings of well-being. The fact that you’re sticking to your weight loss regime and making progress lifts your mood even more—so it essentially becomes one continuous cycle of good vibes and mood-enhancing activity.
There’s a clear link between stress and weight gain. The stress hormone, cortisol, is made by the body to combat stress—but it also increases appetite. Cortisol is designed to help bring the body back to its natural state after stress has passed, and levels remain elevated for a long time after acute stress. Elevated cortisol levels have been shown to lead to an increase in fat accumulation around the midsection, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
While a mobile app won’t automatically reduce the stress in your life, it can remind you to stick to your exercise regimen. Over time, daily stressors may not bother you as much as your body is more equipped to combat stress—and a quick jog or run can be just the ticket to get yourself back in the calm zone. Over time, you’ll develop positive habits that both keep you healthy, help you maintain a healthy weight range and provide coping tools for handling the stress that can get you down in more ways than one.
Find One Good App and Stick to It
Mobile weight-loss apps can literally be a life-saver, but don’t go overboard. Experiment with a few apps and find one that helps you maintain your diet and exercise routines. Many apps are packed with features that count calories, estimate calories burned with different exercises, allow you to keep a weight-loss and exercise log and monitor your progress over time.
Apps can clog up your smartphone, so you don’t want to install too many. After you’ve found one app that meets your needs, delete the rest. Too many apps slow down your browsing speeds and can leave your device vulnerable to security concerns. It’s a good idea to use a proven mobile application security program to protect your device—and your data. After all, the last thing you need is added stress because your device has been hacked or you can’t access your weight-loss app thanks to a nasty virus.
Sarah Hendricks who is a security expert on protecting users and businesses from hackers and data leakage and frequently contributes content on behalf of Mobile antivirus software at NQ.com.