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.
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?