An Initial Review of MyFitnessPal.com

I’ve been using MyFitnessPal.com for about a week now to track my calorie intake and my exercises and I thought I should give you all my initial review of this online app.

Food

Woman eating mediterranean food
Photo credit: Mediterraneandietforall.com

First the good news. Using MyFitnessPal really has raised my awareness of what I eat and when. It also gives me at least an approximate idea of which foods I eat pack the most calories.

Now for the rest of the news. I have to really guess sometimes about which food selections to enter. When I click “Add Food” to my Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, or Snacks options and do a search, although the database of foods available is truly impressive, I often have to choose “generic” since making my own salad or when my son makes sushi doesn’t really fit the profile of any pre-packaged food product.

I’m also not keen on how much protein the app says I need. Of course, it’s focused on assessing what I eat against my stated goal of losing half-a-pound a week not my other goal of building muscle mass, so it’s underestimating (in my opinion) my required protein consumption. The app caps me off at 151 grams of protein, but I’m guessing that I need closer to 185 grams.

At the end of each day, pushing the “Complete This Entry” button results in a statement saying “If every day were like today, in five weeks, you’d weigh such-and-thus pounds”. That’s fine as far as it goes, but I’d like the app to aggregate all of the previous days against the five-week mark and give me a report about how I’m doing overall.

Exercise

On the Exercise tab, you are allowed to enter two different types of exercise: Cardiovascular and Strength Training. However, only calories burned in cardio is counted. It’s as if the app (or its creators) don’t believe weight training actually requires energy or effort. Of course, maybe it’s just too difficult to estimate how many calories a person burns performing 3 sets of bench presses at 10 reps per set, but they could take a stab at it. After all, the calories it says I burn using an elliptical is just an estimation as well.

Bench Press
Bench Press

As with food, the database on strength training exercises is vast but not totally comprehensive. Of course, there are a wide number of variations on standard weight lifting moves that the app’s creators may not have accounted for, and you are allowed to enter additional exercises.

But the search feature, both for food and exercise, seems to miss finding results that are otherwise available if the search string is too detailed. On the other hand, if the string is too generic, too many results come back to be useful. Too bad they can’t get a little help from Google.

I like on the homepage how the summary adds exercise into the calorie intake equation to adjust the daily allowed consumption based on how much work I’ve done, but as I said above, it only counts cardio as exercise.

Reports

This only (for me anyway) displays a line graph of my weight day-by-day as I’ve manually entered it. You can filter the graph for Last 7 Days, Last 30 Days, and so on. The Check-In feature lets you enter not only your weight but your neck, waist, and hip measurements as well. Not bad, but if I were seriously monitoring my muscle gains, I’d probably want options for chest, biceps, and so on.

Goals

When I created my profile, I was asked to state my goal in terms of how much weight I wanted to lose per week. I initially chose a pound a week, but the calorie intake was too severe, so I changed it to half-a-pound a week. Like everything else in this app, the values presented are averages and the results are just approximations. Your mileage may vary.

A Bunch of Other Stuff

mobile appsYou can also purchase a ton of mobile exercise apps, communicate with other MyFitnessPal users on a discussion board, and even read their blog. I don’t do any of that. It takes up enough of my time just to enter every little morsel I consume.

Under each major tab in the online app, there are sub-tabs which means there may be a lot I’m missing, but I really don’t care to be that involved in MyFitnessPal. It’s doing what I want it to do, but not really the way I want it done.

Conclusion

It’s okay. Like I said in the beginning, it’s single biggest advantage is raising my awareness about how much I’m eating and where my food consumption needs to be adjusted.

Now for the hard part…adjusting.

When one must, one can.

Charlotte Whitton

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7 thoughts on “An Initial Review of MyFitnessPal.com

  1. I’ve been using MyFitnessPal for about 2 years and I agree that the caloric count for certain activities is inappropriate. I looked through their blogs once for some answers and discovered that they are only counting aerobic exercise toward weight loss, so they want your heart rate to be above a certain point before it counts toward your caloric usage. Because I don’t like the way the app counts calories for my elliptical time, I use TRUEFitness to track my workouts and carry over the caloric use from that app over to MyFitnessPal. I did do the math to determine what heart rate I need to sustain in order to burn fat and on my own I monitor my heart rate to make sure that it’s above that rate. I’m not sure either app really takes that into consideration.

    What I like most about the MyFitnessPal is that I am tracking my food consumption and my weight on a regular basis. It helps me be more aware of what I’m eating and how much, and I appreciate most that it gives me a short nutritional list so I have an idea of where I’m lacking – for me it’s always potassium. Like you though, I do wish it would give me weekly information rather than combining only daily information.

    As far as tracking my workouts, I do prefer TRUEFitness. But I don’t do strength training and that isn’t accounted for in this app either. I am certain that “there’s an app for that” somewhere because there seems to be a multitude of apps for just about anything one can imagine!

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    1. Hi Lisa. I assume you mean this app available at iTunes, since the only other TRUEFitness I could find was a company selling exercise equipment. Alas, my phone is an older flip phone so no iPhone apps for me…unless it would work on an iPod Touch.

      I agree, the single biggest advantage of MyFitnessPal is to raise my awareness of what I’m eating. Last week, I didn’t really care if I went over the recommended number of calories as I was just in “tracking mode”. This week, I’ll see if I can keep my calorie intake beneath the max threshold and monitor my weight, hoping to see a positive effect.

      The other thing that’s not being measured is calories burned during resistance training. Really, I am doing *some* work when I lift weights. Those barbell deadlifts really wipe me out. The other thing is that building muscle mass makes fat burning more efficient, so I doubt that any one method could accurately estimate how well a person’s diet and exercise program is really working

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      1. Yes, that’s the other app. It says it works with iPod Touch. But again, it’s geared toward cardio only and specifically walking, biking, and elliptical workouts only.

        I imagine that resistance training does burn calories and I imagine that the rate at which it does is difficult to track. All tracking program information is rather subjective and really only an aid in helping the user as they pursue their goals. But I do find that I do better pursuing my goals when I use these two apps together to stay on track.

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  2. with regards to protein intake, most studies indicate that you do not benefit (with regards to hypertrophy/strength) above approximate 1.5g/kg bodyweight.

    bro science recommends ridiculous amounts of protein. if you go by 2g/kg bodyweight, you mighy want to check your kidneys once in a while.

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    1. Thanks for the advice. Tracking my protein intake via MyFitnessPal indicates I’m cruising around 150 grams of protein a day. Converting my weight to kg (we use pounds in the U.S.), according to what you said, I should be consuming about 138 grams of protein, so I guess I’m a little high. That said, all values are approximate.

      Saw the doctor for my annual check up last December and he said I was fine.

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      1. I used kgs since you used it in your posts. converting to pounds does not really pose a challenge (although the imperial system is clearly inferior to the metric system…) 🙂

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