Sticking to the time-restricted eating style can be hard — but using one of these nutritionist-approved intermittent fasting apps can help.

By Kirsten Nunez
November 18, 2020
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Credit: Westend61/Eleonora Grigorjeva/Getty

There's an app for everything these days, and intermittent fasting is no exception. IF, which boasts purported benefits such as better gut health, improved metabolism, and impressive weight loss, has increased in popularity in recent years. And with big-name fans such as Halle Berry and Jennifer Aniston riding the IF bandwagon, it continues to maintain its spot in the limelight.

But look behind that star-studded exterior and you'll find IF isn't all that simple. Real talk: Sticking to the intermittent eating plan can be difficult. Intermittent fasting apps, however, can help.

First, a quick refresher: intermittent fasting is essentially an eating pattern that alternates between set periods of fasting and eating. This consolidates your "feeding window" into a shorter period of time, says Jamie Miller, R.D., a registered dietitian at Village Health Clubs & Spas in Arizona. But take note: IF is not your typical diet plan. "Instead of focusing on what foods to eat, it focuses on when you are eating them," she explains.

And because of this, IF comes in a variety of different forms and versions. There's alternate-day fasting (which is exactly what it sounds like), the 16:8 plan (which involves fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8), the 5:2 method (which involves eating normally for five days of the week and then eating very few calories for the other two), the OMAD diet (which stands for one meal a day), and the list, believe it or not, goes on.

Point being: It can be difficult to keep tabs on a fasting schedule especially when you're already keeping track of a million other things. That's where intermittent fasting apps can help. These smartphone tools track your fasting hours via graphs and charts. They also remind you when it's time to eat or fast, which "can keep you motivated and committed to sticking to your eating window," explains Miller. Think of them like accountability partners in the palm of your hand, she adds. What's more, some apps offer one-on-one coaching and educational articles, which can be helpful for beginner and advanced users alike, notes Silvia Carli, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., a registered dietitian at 1AND1 Life.

Not sure which intermittent fasting app is best for you? Carli recommends establishing a clear understanding of what you need to make lifestyle changes. For example, try asking yourself: Do accountability partners help me? Am I motivated by journaling my feelings — or do I just need an alarm to tell me when my feeding window is open or closed? After answering these questions, you'll be better suited to pick an intermittent fasting app based on your specific goals and needs. Ahead, the best intermittent fasting apps, according to nutrition experts.

Best Intermittent Fasting Apps

BodyFast

Credit: BodyFast

Available for: Android & iOS

Cost: Free with premium options ($34.99/3 months, $54.99/6 months, or $69.99/12 months)

Try It: BodyFast

Depending on your subscription, BodyFast offers anywhere from 10 to 50 fasting methods. The app also has "challenges" aimed at helping you develop and maintain good-for-you behaviors such as physical activity, breathing exercises, and meditation. "These additional features give you peer support and strategies to manage stress and anxiety, which can sometimes cause stress eating," says Amanda A. Kostro Miller, R.D., L.D.N., a registered dietitian at Fitter Living. "The weekly challenges can be great successes to work toward, giving you small wins so you feel more confident that you can make dietary and lifestyle changes."

Fastient

Credit: Fastient

Available for: Android & iOS

Cost: Free with premium options (7-week trial; then $5/year or $12/life)

Try It: Fastient

Known for its sleek and simple design, Fastient is ideal for people who prefer more minimalist platforms. It also doubles as a journaling app, allowing you to "keep track of personal factors such as mood, sleep, and exercise performance," notes Miller, who explains that this can be useful for learning how IF influences your overall wellbeing. For example, you might notice that since starting the diet, say, two weeks ago, you've been sleeping less and feeling more anxious — two side effects of intermittent fasting that can be a good sign that the eating plan isn't for you. On the flip side, you might find that your journal entries have become increasingly more positive, as you've been more efficient at work thanks to increased energy.

The app also lets you calculate "calories spent" during fasting periods — but you should take its accuracy with a grain of salt, as it won't account for factors such as exercise, warns Miller.

Zero

Credit: Zero

Available for: Android & iOS

Cost: Free with premium option ($70/year)

Try it: Zero

Miller recommends Zero, one of the top health and fitness apps in the Apple app store, if you're a beginner who wants to learn the basics of intermittent fasting. "It offers a large selection of videos and articles and even provides a feature where users can submit questions to be answered by fasting experts," she explains. (These experts include a variety of health professionals, including registered dietitians, doctors, and science writers who specialize in IF.) The intermittent fasting app also lets you choose from a custom fasting schedule or common preset plans, including a "circadian rhythm fast," which synchronizes your eating schedule with your local sunset and sunrise times.

Fastic

Credit: Apple App Store/Fastic

Available for: Android & iOS

Cost: Free with premium options ($12/month, $28/3 months, $46/6 months, or $75/year)

Try It: Fastic

"For those needing a little inspiration in the kitchen, the Fastic app is one to check out," says Miller. It offers more than 400 recipe ideas, which is helpful if you're looking to make meals that will keep you full for while, adds Kostro Miller. Bonus: The recipes vary in terms of dietary restrictions and cuisine, and include drool-worthy ideas such as blackened salmon with cilantro rice and Buddha bowls with leafy greens, roasted chickpeas, and avocado. Other notable tools include a water tracker, step counter, and "buddy" feature that lets you connect with Fastic users. (Related: How Your Friends Can Help You Reach Your Health and Fitness Goals)

InFasting

Credit: Apple App Store/Infasting

Available for: iOS

Cost: Free with premium options ($10/month, $15/3 months, or $30/year)

Try it: InFasting

If you're all about tracking tools, InFasting might be up your alley. In addition to the fasting timer, the best intermittent fasting app has trackers for food and water intake, sleep, and activity. These habits can all affect satiety, so keeping tabs on them can help you control hunger during your fasting windows. Kostro Miller also points out that InFasting offers a 'Body Status' feature that shows you what's happening to your body throughout your fasting period, such as when you might start burning fat for fuel. This can be particularly interesting and encouraging for those who are looking to reach a weight loss goal. The app also offers nutrition education, but, as with all in-app content, this shouldn't replace guidance from a registered dietitian, she says. (Related: The Pros & Cons of Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss)

Fast Habit

Credit: Fast Habit

Available for: Android & iOS

Cost: Free with premium option ($2.99/one-time upgrade)

Try It: Fast Habit

Looking for weight trackers and reminders sans bells and whistles? Carli recommends Fast Habit, an intermittent fasting app that "could be particularly good for people who've already fasted before and don't need hands-on guidance." Unlike many of the other best intermittent fasting apps, this one doesn't provide educational material. But what it might lack in content, it makes up for in easy-to-use and encouraging features.

As you log your fasting hours and habits, the app curates snapshot reports that break down your progress and sends out 'streaks' notifications that let you know how many days in a row you've fasted. Think of this intermittent fasting app as a personal cheerleader on a mission to keep your head held high, thereby motivating you to stay on track to meet your goals.

Simple

Credit: Simple

Available for: Android & iOS

Cost: Free with premium options ($15/month or $30/year)

Try it: Simple

As the name suggests, this intermittent fasting app touts itself as a ~simple~ fasting tracker or "personal assistant" that makes following the diet a no-brainer. It offers daily tips to keep you motivated, water intake reminders to stay hydrated, and a food journal feature that focuses on how meals make you feel. But what makes this one of the best intermittent fasting apps for Carli, however, is the fact that it asks for medical conditions in its initial assessment. This is key because IF isn't safe for everyone and it may cause negative health effects for some people, she explains. For example, if you have diabetes, fasting can make your blood sugar drop dangerously low, so you'll want to follow your doctor's guidance for safely fasting — if at all. Or, if you're trying to conceive, "long hours of low blood sugar could negatively affect hormones, and therefore fertility," explains Carli. And while this intermittent fasting app wins points for prioritizing a health assessment, it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor and/or nutritionist before giving any diet, IF included, a-go. (Up next: What Fit Women Need to Know About Intermittent Fasting)

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