MyFitnessPal is one of the most popular diet tracking apps available today. It was launched in 2009 and it’s currently owned by Weight Watchers International Inc., which itself was founded in 1980.
The app allows users to track their food intake and exercise habits, along with giving them tips on how to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Users can set goals for themselves such as losing weight, maintaining a certain body mass index (BMI), or even getting into shape.
Users can also compare their progress against other users, and compete with each other to achieve new personal bests.
The app provides users with a number of different ways to view their data, including graphs showing daily calorie expenditure, average calories burned per day, total calories consumed over time, and so forth. These graphs are based on user input and provide insight into what types of foods are being eaten.
As you might expect, there are various features that allow users to customize their experience. For example, users can choose whether they want to see all foods tracked or just those that contain sugar or salt.
They can also select from several different meal plans and make adjustments as needed.
In addition to the above functions, MyFitnessPal includes a variety of tools for helping users keep up with their health goals and tracking any changes in their lives. For example, users can add exercise logs in a similar manner to food entries.
They can also keep track of their weight and measurements over time so that they can see how their diet is affecting their bodies.
The app is free to download and available for both Android and iOS devices. While some features are locked until the user pays for a premium membership, all of the basic functions are still available for free.
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of the app, let’s dive into some of its features in greater detail.
Tracking Food Intake
The first thing users will do when they get the app is add foods to their tracker. MyFitnessPal comes preloaded with a database of several thousand different foods.
Users can search for a specific food by name or add one that isn’t in the database. They can also scan barcodes of foods to help speed up the process even more.
If you’re looking to lose weight, you’ll obviously want to keep your overall calorie intake low. For this reason, the database includes the number of calories in each food.
It also shows the amount of fat, carbohydrates, and protein that it contains. While most dieters focus just on calories in versus calories out, some people prefer to monitor their fat and carb intake as well since some diets work primarily by reducing or eliminating one or both of these macronutrients.
The app is customizable so you can pick and choose which fields you want to see for any given food entry. If, for example, you’re limiting your fat intake but don’t care about carbs, you can change the settings to only display the fields you’re interested in.
Users can also add personal notes and tips for certain foods. They might want to keep a record of whether a particular food gave them digestive issues or if they found that it didn’t satisfy their hunger.
This is especially useful if you find that a food isn’t in the database. While you can still add it manually, you at least have a place to keep notes on it.
When users are ready to eat, they can easily look up any food to see how it will impact their daily calorie intake and macronutrient goals (more on these later). They can also scan bar codes of ingredients or pick a recipe from the extensive database that the app comes with.
Exercise and Body Measurements
As with food, tracking exercise is pretty straightforward. Users can look up workouts by name or add their own.
If they have a workout partner, both people can add it and then the entries will show up on each other’s accounts. This adds a social element that can help you stay accountable to your fitness goals.
One interesting feature of this app is that it allows you to set goals for different types of measurements beyond weight and body fat. While the database includes BMI and body fat percentage, it also includes other metrics like arm, waist, and thigh circumference.
People who are body builders might want to monitor these since they can indicate how a change in diet is impacting their body composition.
Another common goal for people who exercise regularly is to increase their strength. The app allows users to keep track of both their maximum lift as well as how long it takes them to do it.
This can help them track their overall strength gains over time.
Macros and Nutrients
Most people look at calories when they’re trying to lose weight, but monitoring your intake of nutrients and macronutrients (proteins, carbs, and fat) is actually a better way to see if you’re eating in a way that supports your fitness goals. For this reason, MyFitnessPal includes a database of these things as well.
While there are diet programs that limit you to a very small range of carbs, proteins, and fats, this isn’t really necessary for most people. As long as you’re eating enough of each one over the course of a week, you’ll probably see results.
You can still look up individual foods to see how they impact your daily totals if you want to get really precise.
A Word From Our Sponsor
Like many free apps, MyFitnessPal includes sponsored elements. These usually involve giving you tips on how to improve your nutrition or encouraging you to buy certain products.
These are all things that they encourage you to enter into the app since they make money if you click on them. While some of these might be useful, you shouldn’t feel pressured to buy anything.
Keeping Yourself Motivated
The main advantage of this app over something like Lose It! is its social nature.
The app has a function where you can add friends and compete with them. You can also share your favorite foods, exercise routines, and more. This can help you stay motivated since you’ll be able to see how others are progressing and get tips from people you know in real life.
MyFitnessPal offers users the ability to connect their accounts to devices like Fitbits and Withings scales. This can make it easier to track things like your weight and activity levels.
The app also displays data like how many grams of carbs you’ve eaten over the course of two weeks in graph form. This can help you see long-term trends which can motivate you to lose weight in a more visual way.
There’s also a barcode scanner that allows you to look up foods that aren’t in the database. You can then add details about these foods so you can keep track of them in the future.
As long as you’re eating a wide variety of nutritious foods, you shouldn’t have any problems staying on track.
The main drawback of this app is its focus on weight loss rather than overall health. While there is a strength training section, it doesn’t seem to connect with the nutrition side of things.
This means that strength and muscle gains may not be properly tracked and can lead to issues in the future.
MyFitnessPal also requires users to manually enter information about their exercise routines. This can sometimes lead to mistakes due to failing to log an activity or logging it incorrectly.
While it’s possible to connect third-party devices like Fitbits to stream data into the app, a lot of people don’t have these.
There’s also the issue that many foods in the database contain weird ingredients that might not be found in most kitchens. You can add new foods, but it’s clearly not as simple as scanning a barcode like you can with other apps.
This means it takes longer to add meals which can be a pain.
Several users have also complained that the customer support is lacking. When trying to reach a human, you’re often sent to an automated message that doesn’t help address the problem you’re having.
If the app is important to you, you may want to look elsewhere if customer service is a priority.
While this app can be gone back to free at times, it’s usually around $10 to download. A premium version is available for $36.99 per year.
This includes features like connecting to wearable devices, an ad-free experience, and more.
There are a few in-app purchases available for things like adding more meal entries or resetting your weight goal, but these aren’t necessary.
My Final Review Of MyFitnessPal
Most people that use this app seem to have a positive experience with it. Since it focuses on weight loss, you tend to see results rather quickly.
This can help keep you motivated so you stick with it. You can also track exercise, connect wearable devices, and more.
The main drawback of this app is it doesn’t teach you good nutrition practices. While most people using this app are trying to lose weight, it isn’t the best for your body in the long run.
There’s nothing wrong with being a healthy weight, but the industry standard is probably a bit better for this.
Losing weight also isn’t good if you do it too quickly or improperly. This can actually be harmful and even cause health problems.
It’s not very likely, but something to keep in mind.
This app seems to work best for those wanting to lose a few pounds in a short amount of time. It may not be the best for those who want to do things properly or build muscle while losing fat.
Since it can be fairly cheap to download, it might be worth a try if you’re looking for something simple and easy to use.
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