Myfitnesspal: app review

MFPMyfitnesspal is a free weight loss app that utilizes a food and exercise diary for calorie tracking. When you sign up for the app, you are prompted to provide information about yourself including height and weight, activity level, and personal goals. Goals can range from weight loss and fitness goals to specific nutrient goals such as carbohydrate, protein and/or fat percentage adjustments to your daily diet.

Once your goals are recorded, myfitnesspal gives you the opportunity to choose weekly weight loss goals. Although you can customize your goals, myfitnesspal recommends that you use their guided process instead. This restricts weekly weight loss goals to 2 pounds per week, which is the maximum amount of weight the average person should lose in order to maintain a healthy, safe weight loss trend overtime. When a weekly goal is chosen, myfitnesspal gives you a daily calorie allowance.

The heart of myfitnesspal is the diary. This feature allows you to enter in all food eaten and exercise completed throughout the day using databases. Myfitnesspal’s food database contains a combination of nutrition information entered by myfitnesspal and information contributed and/or edited by other myfitnesspal members. This nutrition information is not reviewed by experts; therefore, accuracy of items in the database is not guaranteed.

As food and exercise items are added, a calculation at the top of the home page tracks the number of calories left for that given day that will meet your goals. For example: based on my anthropometry and goals, I was allotted a 1460 calorie/day goal. After eating a breakfast containing 300 calories and taking a 30 minute jog that burned 200 calories, an equation appears as follows:

1460(goal)       +300(food)      -200(exercise)      =   100(net)    >>   1360 (calories remaining)

Nutrient details are also tracked. Using a similar layout as a standard food label, myfitnesspal provides nutrient details and progress using three categories: 1) total consumed for that day, 2) goal consumption for that day, and 3) left, showing positive and negative balances remaining for each nutrient. Consumers can also view a pie chart breakdown of carbohydrate/fat/protein percentages of their daily diet as well as progress charts.

Myfitnesspal has also partnered with Facebook and a host of exercise tracking apps such as Fitbit and Jawbone UP to provide additional resources to help you reach your weight loss and fitness goals. You can network with other people and share your progress and questions on Facebook as well as track your daily exercise more accurately with the other fitness apps. Daily tips and weekly newsletters are provided as well to encourage healthy options and keep you on track for your daily goals.

Pros

  • Emphasizes the importance of combining nutrition and exercise to meet weight loss goals
  • Easy to navigate and free
  • Support is provided via social media connections with Facebook and daily tips
  • Goals are easy to personalize
  • Databases are large and allow personalization of input items

Cons

  • Advertisement pop-ups appear on Smartphone app
  • High probability of inaccurate and/or incomplete food database items entered and edited by other members
  • Highlights that you can “eat whatever you want” despite the fact that eating a well-planned, balanced diet is best for reaching optimal health levels
  • Requires a high level of motivation to use because it takes time to enter all food and activity everyday

Why use myfitnesspal?

Myfitnesspal is for anyone looking to lose weight that needs visual representation of where their calories are coming from and leaving by each day. By simply tracking where calories are being added by the foods and beverages you consume and subtracted by the exercise you do, you may notice patterns that are contributing to delayed weight loss or even weight gain that you wouldn’t have considered otherwise. With its progress tracking feature, Facebook partnership, and daily/weekly tips, myfitnesspal can set you up for success if you are motivated and ready for change. It is important to be cautious of food database items. Be sure to enter and edit items accurately and completely to guarantee your diary entries actually match your consumption patterns.

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