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APP REVIEW: My Fitness Pal

myfitnesspal

 

This App, available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry users, is the #1 calorie-counting app available. This app has an exhaustive food and exercise database, including restaurants and prepared meals, and is very easy to use. Let’s run through a few of the more important features available.

 

1. MyFitnessPal generates your daily calorie allowance

The iPhone version's homescreen

The iPhone version’s homescreen

When you sign up with MFP, you will be prompted to give some information about your height, weight, desired pace of weight loss (1/2 lb  per week, 1 lb per week, etc) and daily activity level. This information is important because it generates a daily calorie allowance, which you will follow in order to lose weight at your chosen pace. If you have a desk job where you are seated 8 hours or more  day, you will choose the lowest level and therefore have a lower calorie allowance. Conversely, if you have a very high energy job, like a construction worker or mover, you will have a much higher calorie allowance. This number is calculated using this equation:

 

(Basal Metabolic Rate) + (regular daily activity) – (number of calories need to lose weight at a certain pace)= Daily Allowance

 

Since a pound of fat is about 3500 calories, losing a pound a week would require a daily deficit of about 500 calories. Remember that exercise adds to your calorie allowance, which brings us to our next tool, the exercise feature.

2. You enter your daily exercise activity in My Fitness Pal

So you’ve just left the gym and need to calculate your calorie burn so that you know where you stand for dinner that evening. Log your exercise into MyFitnessPal & it will automatically calculate your calorie burn based on your body weight and the activity & it will add this number to your daily calorie allowance. If you went a little hard at lunch time and don’t feel like having half an apple for dinner, hitting up the gym for some HIIT training will give you some wiggle room and still keep you under your calorie goal. You can use the Strength Training feature to log the weight training movements you have done each week, though it is probably easier to just use an excel spreadsheet instead of logging every single set, rep, and weight you performed in this app.

3. Track your macros

This last feature I am going to highlight is exceptionally useful & the number one reason I have most of my clients use MyFitnessPal (whether they are trying to lose or not). You can set ceilings for daily macronutrient intake that let you personalize your food journal and train yourself to look at food in a different way. For most of my clients, we usually focus on lowering the sugar intake and raising the fat and protein intake. The web version of MFP allows you to see where you stand with calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, sugar, fiber, and number of other categories you can choose to display:

Personalize your goals

Personalize your goals

While I have not found the feature that sets an alert when you are getting close to topping out one of your goals (carbs, for example) it is a very good way to learn what foods are a green light and which are a red light. You can also get a printable report (5 days of logging, for example) to see trends, patterns, or to just go over with your trainer and find weak points in your diet.

 

Final Score: 4-stars

If you need a reliable, simple calorie tracker with a massive database that is easily customized, choose this app. While MyFitnessPal will not give you any idea of the quality of the foods your eating, like Fooducate does, it is a great way to keep track of your food intake. If it can be measured, it can be managed! Daily logging of your food intake can be very revealing.

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