A Personal Trainer’s Review of MyFitnessPal
Life in the 21st century is hectic; with work, family and friends taking over much of a person’s life, people cannot find time for themselves. Logging every exercise we perform and keeping track of our entire intake of food is not possible due to lack of time we have in our lives. Counting calories to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle has thus become extremely difficult.
However, remarkable advancements in technology over the period of these last few years have brought forward innovative wearable technology and applications that allow people to manage their fitness and health in a more effective and easier way.
One of the apps in the health and fitness category that has captured the attention of people is MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal allows users to count and track their calories by entering/recording it into an online diary. Users can also keep track of their exercise regime.
As the MyFitnessPal app has become extremely popular for calorie counting, I decided to share my thoughts about the app so people can know what a personal trainer thinks about this popular application.
Once you have installed MyFitnessPal on your iPhone (also available for Android, Windows and Blackberry), you need to fill in your personal information. This allows you to create your intake needs and calorie goals for each day of the week. The first page of the app shows you your calorie goals. As you start entering exercise and foods into the app, it will automatically calculate the calories remaining for the day. You’ll also find a newsfeed that shows your updates and updates from friends whom you have added via the social networking feature of the app.
You can enter food into your diary by just tapping the “Add to Diary” button that you can find next to the remaining calories counter. You can search for what you’re eating or if the barcode is available, you can just scan it. The food database of MyFitnessPal has more than 6 million entries for food items and you can even find simple things like an onion or a cheese slice.
You need to log in the food you consume, but it is also essential to record any kind of exercise you complete for that day as it will keep your calorie goal accurate. There are more than 350 exercises in MyFitnessPal app’s database, so you can log in any exercise you complete within seconds. In case, your workout isn’t listed, you can add it by creating a new exercise, which would only take about 15 seconds to set up and stay saved for activity logging. You can also input your weight into MyFitnessPal every day to make sure you are going in the right direction.
The app shows your weight in the form of a graph, which allows you to see if you’re following the right path or not. There’s a button that will complete logging your food entries at the day’s end and a message will pop up to show how much weight you will have in five weeks in case you continue exercising and eating the same way as you did on that particular day.
Like other apps for activity tracking, MyFitnessPal behaves like a little personal trainer by celebrating healthy diet and nudging you when you fail to work out. For example, the app sometimes shows a message saying, “this food is rich in protein” or “Today, your fat goal is 80 grams and this has 50 grams”.
These bubble messages don’t always show up and it seems that the general philosophy of the MyFitnessPal is that over nagging only proves to be counterproductive. Those who developed the app must be great parents. There are other digital apps that are much stricter; for example, the Jawbone’s UP app in which your meals are ruthlessly scored out of 10 and the comments are judgmental.
What do you want from a health and fitness app? You want the app to help you lose weight or maintain your current weight or gain muscle, right? For that, you must be able to track calories. When it comes to counting and tracking calories, there is nothing better than MyFitnessPal. With more than 6 million food items in its large database with information about micronutrients and macronutrients, this app is great for not only fitness enthusiasts, but also for people who desire to make healthy lifestyle changes.
When I used the MyFitnessPal, I didn’t like typing everything I ate, so I just scanned the barcodes of food items to have it logged in the app. This is the feature I like the most about MyFitnessPal.
When it comes to the design, MyFitnessPal is perhaps the simplest application to use and is great for those who are starting their calorie counting journey. Most of the features of the app are translated into several languages, so even those who don’t have English as their first language can use it.
MyFitnessPal is great for daily use and most of the times, you can find the meal you are having in the database. However, one thing everyone should know is that if the meal is not available in the database of MyFitnessPal, it becomes really hard to manually enter it by accurately measuring the ingredients and adding them to calculate the calories in the meal.
MyFitnessPal supports several other fitness apps like Fitbit, Google Fit, Strava and a number of other applications. This saves you from manually inputting your exercise and activity data. One important thing that I should mention here is that there are ads everywhere in the free version of MyFitnessPal and some features don’t work on the free version like micro and macro tracking of food. So, if you really wish to use all the features and avoid distracting ads to focus on counting your calories, I suggest you go for the premium version of MyFitnessPal. The premium subscription of MyFitnessPal app removes all ads, provides a 24×7 support and adds micros and macronutrients data.
MyFitnessPal Premium Features
- No Ads: No one likes those advertisement messages on a mobile app — they are just too annoying. With the premium version of MyFitnessPal, you get an ad-free experience and you can easily keep track of your calories without being distracted from ads.
- Food Analysis: The premium version of MyFitnessPal also provides a service through which you can cross-check the food’s quality and make healthier diet decisions.
- Access to Exclusive Content: Only premium subscribers of MyFitnessPal app get access to exclusive content and tips that can help them achieve their fitness goals in a better way.
- Different Goals for Different Days: With this feature of the premium version of MyFitnessPal, custom goals can be set for different days of the week. If you like to cheat on your diet over the weekends, but still don’t want to go overboard, this feature can save you from consuming a little too much.
- Macros Breakdown: With the premium version of MyFitnessPal app, you can see the macronutrients breakdown of the meal you had inside your fitness diary.
If you have just begun your calorie tracking journey and haven’t gotten the hang of it yet, I suggest you stick to the app’s free version. You don’t need the extra features just yet. I suggest the premium version to people who are experienced in calorie tracking and have a good understanding of micros, macros, portions and daily goals.
Check out our blog on the importance of calorie counting.
MyFitnessPal App Pros
One of the best things about MyFitnessPal is its convenience. You can conveniently enter the information of the food you ate and instantly find out the macros and calories right through the app. Additionally, recipes can be manually added and then accessed even from the MyFitnessPal website. No other health and fitness app available today can offer such convenience.
Helps Create a Personal Plan for Weight-Loss
MyFitnessPal has the ability to create a personalized weight loss plan based on your weight loss pace, current weight, level of activity, lifestyle and gender which makes it a great fitness application for everyone. The training and diet plan can be modified further as per the recommendations provided by your doctor or dietician.
Feedback on the Diet
Another good thing about MyFitnessPal is that users are given feedback instantly on what they eat and the kinds of nutrients that were in their meal, be it protein, carbs or fat. This feedback on a consistent basis has been proven to help people in losing weight healthily.
Different Types of Measurements Can be Used
With MyFitnessPal, you don’t have to carry a kitchen scale to weigh everything you eat. You can use easy measurements like tablespoons, liters and cups when inputting your food which are easier to record than grams. When it comes to measurements, MyFitnessPal gives different options like weight, fluid ounces, cups/tablespoons and serving size of the meal.
MyFitnessPal App Cons
Tracking Calories, Micros and Macros isn’t always Enough
The first con of the app is that it can only track calories, micros and macros. This can be a problem when you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle or gaining or losing weight. You not just have to worry about the calories, micros and macros, but also the kind of food you’re getting all those things from.
Internet Is Required
MyFitness app does work on the go, but an internet connection is required to log in your meals. If there is no connection, you cannot access the database of the food items and thus cannot record your food intake.
Issue with the Barcodes
While you can scan the food product’s barcode to record it into the app, the scanner doesn’t always find the product and most of the times you have to enter it manually. Additionally, you cannot edit the amount of food you have consumed. The app also keeps asking for updates regularly which can be quite annoying.
The Final Verdict
In a nutshell, MyFitnessPal has helped many people lose weight and many of my clients report its positive effects on their lifestyles. It is a great tool for people who want to track calories and can stay dedicated to use it every day. But, if you are one of those who don’t really want to dedicate even a few seconds of your life to measure your food intake and watch your progress, then MyFitnessPal, in fact no health and fitness app will work for you. If you want to live a healthy lifestyle or lose weight, you must be consistent in whatever you do, whether it is exercise and tracking your calorie count.
The benefits of MyFitnessPal app outweigh its cons and that is the main reason it has become so popular among fitness enthusiasts. If you want to keep track of your calories, then I recommend that you start using the free version of MyFitnessPal app. Then, if you find the app working well for you, spend a few bucks to buy the premium version and get all its remarkable features.
Check out our blog on diet periodization