MyFitnessPal Review

As I mentioned this week, one of the iPhone apps that been super helpful in terms of weight loss/accountability is the MyFitnessPal app (if you don’t have a smart phone, you can access all features in the website instead).

In case you’re wondering, MFP (can I just call it that for the rest of the review?) is 100% free.  There’s not even a free vs paid version, so you get all the features for free.

Diptic

I’ve been using it for about a month and a half now.  Just like everyone else, I HATE counting calories (who likes doing that?), and MFP is basically counting calories, but without you actually doing the brunt of the work.

To set it up, you input how aggressive do you want this weight loss thing to be (1/2lb a week?  2lbs a week?) and from there it’ll give you the goal calorie per day, which you can adjust it if you’d like.  For example, my net calorie goal is 1,400/day in order to lose 1lb a week, but I changed it to 1,300, so it gives me a bit of leeway for weekends (which is when I’m not so good about eating the right things).  That way, if I can keep it around 1,300 five days a week, I have an extra 500 calories I can splurge on during the weekend (not that I actually try to eat those extra calories, but eating out quickly adds them up).  I’ll admit that most weekend I go way beyond those extra 500 calories…  (But this allows me to have the occasional day not worrying too much about it.)

The really cool part of the app?  Once you’re done logging for the day, you click on “complete this entry” and it will tell you “if you ate every day like you eat today, you’ll weigh XXX in 5 weeks” – on good days that number is encouraging, on bad days it’ll show a weight gain and it really makes you want to be better!

It has a HUGE food database (even recipes from Cooking Light, a cookbook we use a lot, is there), and on the odd chance that it doesn’t have what you want, you can manually input it and have it saved to use it again.  On that note, if you tend to eat repeat meals, you can save them as a meal, and add later with one click, and another really cool feature is that you can scan barcodes and it will add that to your calorie count (I tested with both Brazilian and Filipino manufactured things, and it worked!).  Once you add an item once, it’ll be saved on your “recent” for quick access as well.

You can keep track of weight and measurements.  You can keep track of exercise and water consumed.  And it also gives you a breakdown of fat/carbs/protein intake, if you’re keeping tabs on that.  (It gives you a standard percentage setting for those, but if you go to the website you can change the percentages if you want to do a low-fat or high-protein diet, etc.)

The one thing I DON’T like?  If I input, say, 100 calories burned from exercise, it then ups my food allowance by another 100 calories.  There’s no way to change that, and I know I can manually calculate the difference, but it becomes too much work, so I never input exercise (except for the one screen above as an example).  I don’t like eating my calories burned!  I want them both to work towards weight loss, plus, we all know calories burned during exercise is not an exact science.  And what if I was doing long runs, where I would easily burn 2000 calories in one run, do I just eat all of them back (of course not!).  (And yes, I checked, if I input 2000 calories worth of exercise, it ups my food allowance by another 2000…  Ugh.)

This is also one of the reasons I haven’t worn my fitbit in a while – I linked it to MFP and then it overestimated my calories burned by a LOT, and I kept getting extra calories to consume.

Despite the drawbacks, I love the app and have been using it faithfully.  I definitely recommend if you want a quick easy way of keeping track of what you eat, specially if like my you are trying to lose weight (or even to maintain it).

Have you tried My Fitness Pal?  Have you tried another similar app?  What are the good/bad you have noticed?

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “MyFitnessPal Review

  1. I’ve been using my fitness pal since late Dec. I really like it. It really keeps me accountable with what and how much I’m eating. I do enter my exercise, and I usually eat about half of those calories. Mine is set to lose 2 lbs a week, which gives me only 1210 calories a day, so I know when I’m working out I need the extra energy. So far I’ve lost 23 pounds, just by tracking everything I eat and my exercise. Just tracking helps me make better chooses, when I see how a tiny amount of “junk food” equals a huge amount of healthier food, especially fruits and veggies.

    • 23 pounds? That is a great job! I hope I can say that some day too — congrats! And you’re right about the being accountable forcing you to make better choices… We’ve been eating in a lot more now, since I know what’s in the food I eat at home.

  2. Dani

    I use LoseIt! Which sounds really similar. Good database and I love the new(ish) barcode scan feature! That is awesome, though I really should try to cut down on eatting foods that are scanable. 🙂 It helped my lose a little over 30 pounds in about 7 months. These last 10 poinds have proved pesky though. Good luck!

  3. jend420

    Hey Carla, I use MFP and input exercise. On the Food Diary screen, it tells you at the bottom that you’ve “earned x calories. ” So, even though the total calories go up by that amount, you can simply tell from the Remaining line whether you have that same number of calories left over. I recommend entering the exercise, because then you can use the reports to see whether you’re burning off enough calories each week.
    This was a great review though. I was using the free version of FitDay for years, and MFP has a much better database and an app. I love it!

    • I know how it works, I just don’t like having to do math when if I don’t input the exercise I can quickly take a glimpse of the amount of calories I have left. It’s frustrating “you have 567 calories but your workout gave you 234” — it doesn’t mean I can’t do math, I just prefer not to, as I like the quick glimpsing throughout the day, instead of numbers that constantly change (which is why I stopped linking my fitbit to it too).

      Plus, I don’t think the exercise calories are too accurate either, which is another reason I don’t like adding it up.

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  5. Thanks for sharing ! Keep the tips coming..

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  7. Leah

    You really should be entering your exercise. If you are indeed training enough to burn alot of calories, you need to consume those calories to maintain your health. The app gives you the NET calories needed per day. For instance, to reach my goal of losing 8 lbs in my time frame, I needed to NET 1200 calories per day. So, if i burn 800 calories at crossfit or kickboxing or whatever, i need to consume an extra 800 calories. The app creates the calorie defecit for me. If I didn’t eat the extra calories on those days when I’m training hard, it would push me into a greater deficit than necessary and end up tired, depleted and my training suffers. You need to eat properly to stay healthy or risk pushing yourself into a depleted state.
    I am a certified trainer with over 20 years experience. I used this app to sucessfully reach my goal without compromising the high level of my workouts.
    L.

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  9. mbc

    I’ve been using Fitness Pal and quite like it except for the way it counts sugar in fruit exactly the same as added refined sugar. Yeah, maybe I have five extra pounds bc I eat fruit, but that seems a little strict. Anyway, I like it because I it keeps me honest about how much I can or cannot eat thanks to running. Sometimes I just go crazy thinkimg “i’ve earned it!” and that’s what keep those five extra pounds hanging around my tummy.

  10. Bob

    Ive been using Myfitness Pal (MFP) for about 7 months. In that time it has helped me lose 32 pounds. Recently I have started adding cardio to my repertoire and started using the Fitbit One (FB). I have encountered an interesting problem when the two sync up. It seems MFP calculates my calorie burn for a 56 minute walk (3.5 mph pace) as a burn of – 579 calories. In turn my FB will make an adjustment to that number and reduce it substantially. So who’s correct, MFP or FB? Another thing the FB and MFP do not calculate is the intensity of the excise. There is no way a 360 pound man and a 260 pound man walk a 5K, at the same pace, and have identical caloric burns. I guess I could stop logging my exercise on MFP and just let the FB make the adjustment when it syncs, but where’s the fun in that? I’m seriously looking at the Body Media arm band. Apparently that device measures intensity by temperature. I just hate having to spend more money. These things aren’t cheap. Then again, my grocery bill isn’t what it used to be either.

  11. K

    I LOVE mfp. Just started but, for the price of admission, can accept its idiosyncrasies (eg no estimated calorie count for Pilates/yoga classes). For hours spent tracking, I like the nutritional feedback, projections, etc. most importantly, mfp (and USDA supertracker) also enabled me to learn that I was consuming *only 800 calories* on multiple days of adherence to ww’s 26-point recommendation. When I had started ww, I had really wanted to be a “success story” — but I thought it was ludicrous to spend hours tracking only to receive feedback in their proprietary, uninformative “points plus” system. Ww is for low health literacy lemmings who want to pay for codependent group therapy.

  12. K

    I LOVE mfp. Just started but, for the price of admission, can accept its idiosyncrasies (eg no estimated calorie count for Pilates/yoga classes). For hours spent tracking, I like the nutritional feedback, projections, etc. most importantly, mfp (and USDA supertracker) also enabled me to learn that I was consuming *only 800 calories* on multiple days of adherence to ww’s 26-point recommendation. When I had started ww, I had really wanted to be a “success story” — but I thought it was ludicrous to spend hours tracking only to receive feedback in their proprietary, uninformative “points plus” system. Ww is health illiterate lemmings who want to pay for codependent group therapy.

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