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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
You 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.
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.