Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal – mHealth App of the Day

MyFitnessPal App

MyFitnessPal by UnderArmour

MyFitnessPal App

Is MyFitnessPal the right app for you – and your health/fitness goals?

In this brief review, I’ll let you know what the app does, how it works, if it’s available on your devices, relevant reviews, and my own perspective.

That is, I’ll answer the question: Is this app for you?

 

What MyFitnessPal does – in one sentence:

MyFitnessPal is marketed as a tool to lose weight – by tracking all the food you eat, your exercise and estimating your calories consumed vs calories burned.

 

What else does MyFitnessPal do?

MyFitnessPal does the calorie counting for you – based on estimates from a database of millions of foods, as well as guestimating calories burned during exercise. You just enter the foods – by searching or using the barcode scanner – and the exercise and the app does the rest.

You can add your own recipes to the database.

MyFitnessPal can track your steps.

You can share your data among MyFitnessPal and many different apps and devices.

MyFitnessPal shows graphs and charts of your data – including macro nutrients in your food.

 

What’s my take?

I used MyFitnessPal for about one month and somehow was able to enter just about all of the food I consumed. I’m sure I missed some things here and there but, for the most part, I was diligent about going into the app, remembering what I ate, and entering it.

Overall it was a great tool for getting a very rough estimate of caloric intake for the month. The scanner worked really well – for foods with barcodes. But for much of the food I eat, there are no barcodes so I spent time searching for the right items and their quantities.

When I started tracking, I was surprised to see the number of calories I consumed. It seemed low…I thought I ate more!

I did notice that for many food items there were multiple duplicates showing different nutritional information. So getting the right calories is of course impossible – which is why I state (over and over) that it’s just an estimate.

The big takeaway for me beyond caloric intake was the macronutrient ratios for my foods. I was following a somewhat ketogenic diet so I was able to see that reflected in the percentage of fats, proteins and carbs. Very cool.

I also noticed how alcohol affected my data – in a bad way. Lots of calories that are all carbs. Not really what you would want on a low-carb diet!

 

Would I recommend MyFitnessPal to you?

Yes, absolutely! I think it’s a great tool to use for a few weeks or so – whenever you want to test out changes in your diet – to get an idea of your caloric intake and macronutrient profile.

I wouldn’t, however, recommend obsessing over calories and the food you eat. If you have challenges around food, I recommend you look at the bigger picture in terms of your health and consult with an alternative healthcare professional who understands how your lifestyle impacts your health.

The trap many people fall into is thinking that they just need to eat less and exercise more when, in many cases, there is some kind of underlying issue that’s to blame. And unfortunately, in these cases, simply eating less and exercising more could be making the problem worse.

Furthermore, I would say that it’s generally better to eat foods that don’t have barcodes on them. My fear is that, because of the simplicity of scanning barcodes in the MyFitnessPal app, many users might preferentially choose foods with barcodes – which means they are likely choosing processed foods over whole foods.

Again, if you have any doubts or questions about diet, consult with someone who really knows this stuff – without being dogmatic and telling you that one way is the “right” way. There is no “right” way!

 

Integrations:

Over 50 apps and devices including Apple Health, Fitbit, Jawbone UP, Garmin, MapMyFitness, Runkeeper, Strava, Runtastic, Misfit, Withings.

 

Platforms:

iOS, Android

 

Salient reviews:

5.0 Stars: “I was diagnosed with malnutrition so my doctor suggested I keep track of my eating. This app helps me plan out my meals and tells me EXACTLY which nutrients I’m getting from my food and which ones I might have too much of. The app is great for people who want to lose, gain, OR maintain weight.I love how you can record and track your weight progress and exercises, because you’re able to see how much calories you burn during exercise. My favorite features are the calorie tracker and the barcode scanner. The calorie tracker was an integral feature to my recovery because it notified me whenever I was not eating enough, and the app would refuse to “complete” the food diary for that day. This helped me to gain enough weight back in a healthy way. The barcode scanner is awesome because it auto-populates the nutritional value/serving size and food titles after scanning the barcode on your food package, which allows the app to calculate the exact stats for that meal. Overall this app really turned my health around and I am really grateful that I found it.”

3.0 Stars: “One of the biggest annoyances is the calorie adjustment, it basically removes all of your steps all because you have put in cardio. Also nutritional data varies so much for the exact same thing, it adds so much more time to an already long process of setting things up, checking that the data is correct (a lot of the time it isn’t!)”

5.0 Stars: “I have been struggling with my weight for many years. It fluctuates up and down by forty pounds every two years. Fact is, the only times I’m able to lose weight is when I use MyFitnessPal faithfully every day, every meal, every daily exercise. Once I stop recording my daily activities, my weight steadily and inexorably rises. Why do I stop using it? Damned if I know.”

 

 

 

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