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Count your calories--for free--with Lose It! (Review)

This free iPhone app makes it a snap to keep track of calories consumed and burned.

A few taps is all it takes to log your foods and exercises. CNET Networks

Trying to lose weight? Forget the diet du jour: It all boils down to math. If you burn more calories than you consume, presto: the pounds come off.

Fortunately, there's a tool that makes this math incredibly easy: Lose It! This terrific little program lets you create a weight goal and log your daily food intake and exercise.

Yep, it's a fancy calorie-counter. But it's a really good one, and I've found it has numerous advantages over traditional calorie-counting methods. For starters, because it lives on your iPhone, it goes where you go. There's nothing extra to carry or remember. Whenever you eat something or exercise, just pull out your device and log it.

The program includes a huge database of brand-name and generic foods, including thousands of items from popular restaurants, so it's relatively easy to log everything you eat. Plus, it automatically remembers foods and meals you've eaten so they're easier to enter on subsequent days. You can even add custom foods, exercises, and recipes to the database.

The real value in Lose It! is the way it shows a running tally of calories consumed versus your daily budget. Can't survive the day without a brownie? Figure out how many minutes on the treadmill it'll take you to stick to that budget.

I saved the best part for last: Lose It! is free. Truth be told, I'd pay for a program this good, but, thankfully, I don't have to.