I’d never made a New Year’s resolution before, but when January 1, 2013, rolled around, I vowed to get serious about nutrition. Looking for a source of weight loss motivation and accountability, I turned to the popular app, MyFitnessPal. Unfortunately, my success was short-lived and I quit using the app after just a few months. Uploading my food choices was such a tedious task. Most days, I’d put it off until the end of the day and I had to rack my brain to remember what I’d eaten for breakfast and lunch!

Today, millions of Americans use their smart phones to track nutrition, exercise, and weight loss. But, why are so many of us unable to stick with it in the long-term? We know that there’s no magic bullet for healthy living, but could these apps actually help us lose weight and get fit? Or, are they simply another tech-savvy distraction?

Medical researchers at Northwestern University recently released a study that shows promising results for nutrition and fitness apps. The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at 69 adults who were overweight or obese. Half of the group was instructed to keep track of their eating and activity on paper. The other participants used a mobile app and were given biweekly coaching calls for extra motivation. Both groups were encouraged to attend health education meetings, too.

Over the course of a year, the average weight loss of those participants using the mobile technology and attending the meetings was 15 pounds. Those who used the app, but attended less than 80 percent of the meetings lost 8.6 pounds, on average. Individuals without the app didn’t lose any weight.

Although apps were a big part of this study, it’s important to remember that other sources of encouragement were used, too. The researchers commented that using smart phone capabilities in combination with personal coaching “holds promise [to] enhance short-term weight loss.”

If you want to try out a fitness or nutrition app for yourself, check out our top three recommendations.

Do you use a mobile app to keep track of weight loss?