Counting Food And Burning Calories With My New Fitness Pal

My blog post yesterday about eating resulted in a bit of discussion on Facebook (though sadly, not here on my blog) which caused me to reconsider my fat loss program. The one thing that got my attention in the Facebook conversation was a link to the article How to Lose Body Fat and Keep It Off by James Barnum.

It’s a really long article, and even then, it only summarizes a larger body of information about fat loss theory and technique. Boiling all that data down, the basics are:

  1. Take a break from dieting and just monitor food intake for 2 to 3 days using a calorie counting app (see below).
  2. Subtract 200 calories from what you normally eat (it’s way more complicated than that) for six weeks.
  3. Increase your food intake by 200 to 300 calories for 2 weeks.
  4. Repeat step 2 for six weeks.

I’m really oversimplifying the process and I encourage you to click the link and read all of Barnum’s article to get the full details.

But one of the things I did (because I was challenged…uh, encouraged to) was to sign up for MyFitnessPal.com, creating an account by linking through from Facebook.

Now that I see it, I think I tried this website out some years ago, but as I said, I tend not to like counting everything I eat. For one thing, as the Barnum article states, foods don’t really come so neatly packaged as to always be precisely such-and-thus calories. My son Michael has a side job in the kitchen at our local convention center (while he goes to school to earn an engineering degree) and last night (as I write this), he brought home a container of tortilla soup (people who work in the kitchen are allowed to take home excess food at the end of an event). Who knows how many calories are in a serving? I had a bowl for a mid-morning snack (don’t judge) but I didn’t measure the amount I put in the bowl. I just poured, microwaved, and ate.

MyFitnessPal lets you search for foods of just about any brand and type so you can get an accurate calorie count, but I had to approximate what soup to select and the serving size. Maybe I got somewhere close to the number of calories I actually consumed.

But I suppose I should put my money where my mouth is and, if I’m really serious about dumping that stubborn 20 pounds of gut fat, I need to do something about it.

According to the calculation I got when I signed up at MyFitnessPal, I should be able to lose 20 pounds, starting today (Sunday) by April 5th. Frankly, I think that’s an outrageous claim, even if this program says it can help me lose a pound a day.

burning caloriesThat said, I’m at step one now, just spending the next 2 to 3 days monitoring what I eat. Sunday is a rest day, so I won’t see the inside of the gym at all. but Monday is Chest Day and I’ll be hitting my begining of the week workout program as usual.

It’ll be interesting to actually quantify what I eat along with what exercises I do and see how it all adds up. I’ll let you know how it all goes as things progress. If you have any questions or suggestions, please comment here. I’m sure I’m not the only one to use this online app for fat loss.

Oh, I have a dumb phone (an old flip phone…I hear the year 2002 called and wants its archaic technology back), so even though there’s a MyFitnessPal app for iPhones, iPads, Android, and even Windows tablets and phones, I’m using the good old-fashioned webpage. If you want to use this app, you might want to try a platform that’s a little more modern.

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.

Vidal Sassoon

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10 thoughts on “Counting Food And Burning Calories With My New Fitness Pal

      1. That’s kind of my beef (no pun intended) with counting calories, too. However, since someone recommended this method to break through my plateau, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

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  1. Counting calories all the time is no fun.
    However, my wife is using this MyFitnessPall app since a few weeks to track how many calories she is eating and she is getting good results in loosing the pregnancy pounds. She’s currently back at her weight before her pregnancy last year and is still loosing weight.
    I think it is a nice tool to check if you reached your max calorie intake that day.
    It is not the tool itself that makes you get your nutrition goals but the fact that it can track your food log and make you aware of what you eat in a day.
    Nice feature the app has: you can scan de barcode of the food package with your cam. Makes it easy to log what you eat.
    Planning to use it myself soon and maybe give a review of it on my blog.

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    1. I’d agree that it’s value is in raising my awareness of what I’m eating relative to calorie intake, but in my case, because I eat so little processed food, and some of what I eat is made from scratch or comes from atypical sources, I don’t always find exact analogs in the MyFitnessPal database. It also has almost nothing in its database on free weight exercises, so I’m constantly having to input them. Plus, it doesn’t even attempt to count calories burned in resistance workouts, only cardio.

      It appears to have features I haven’t had time to explore yet. I’m planning on just using it to monitor my calorie intake/expenditure for a week and then see where to go from there.

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  2. Tracking is a great idea when you’re starting out. Even though you are approximating (eg – your unknown soup), you’ll be surprised what a difference a blob of butter or a bowl of pudding makes (and let’s not forget the beer or the handful of nuts). It all counts, and once you get started on it, you’ll know once and for all where that extra 20 pounds is coming from – good luck :).

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