I’d like to start this review off by saying I don’t think counting calories is the solution to weight or fat loss. The equation is too complicated. If you’d like a really great book on this subject, click here. I do think that My Fitness Pal offers much more than just calorie counting. Let me break it down for you:
1. You can count calories. Even if you don’t need or want to keep an eye on calories, the program will give you a fairly accurate estimate of what you should be eating in a day.
2. It’s a food and exercise journal on your phone or tablet that has thousands of pre-existing foods and exercises. It also has the ability to create your own foods or workouts. Plus it has a bar code scanner so any processed food is recorded correctly.
3. You can set your own nutrition goals! If you’re doing low carb or Paleo/Primal this can be an indispensable asset to making sure that you are getting the right nutrient balance. Even if you aren’t doing something specific you can certainly see where you need to make nutrient corrections in your diet.
4. You can network with friends to share your nutrition and weight loss goals or show your overall progress.
The My Fitness Pal program itself is easy to use and it’s very intuitive on both the Android and iOS platforms. It also connects to all your fitness gadgets or other programs you might use to integrate your data. It can be used on the internet but it’s harder to be accurate with your logging if you don’t have access to the application all the time like you might with a cell phone or tablet. Here is what I learned from the app:
1. I don’t drink enough water! I need to set water alarms on my phone.
2. Sometimes I eat way to much sodium. When I first got back to the states I was eating nothing but microwavable foods or prepacked salads. A few weeks later here at the new house I was doing much better on sodium, using only about half my daily maximum. It did show me that I was using too much Tamari and one of my few frozen convenience foods I actually love (Thai Shrimp Gyoza) had a metric ton of sodium in it. I now only get it once a month instead of once a week and make sure I hydrate really well the next day.
3. I’m not getting enough potassium or magnesium. Enter bananas.
4. I can really get behind on my protein consumption. Since I don’t have my blender yet I’m not getting my green smoothie with 60 grams of protein in it per day. That was the only way I could get enough protein in Germany due to high meat prices and scarcity of vegetarian sources I could eat. Most women still need about .5 grams of protein per pound of body weight to maintain muscle mass. It’s something I really need to strive to achieve.
5. I behave much better with a food journal. I don’t always try to hit my calories exactly and I strive more for nutrient balance. The good behavior comes in when I think about what exactly is in what I’m about to eat. Too much sugar? Too much bad fat? I usually then have enough willpower to say no. If I’ve really overeaten it will stop me from eating any more. I’m also less likely to eat from boredom or hormones than before because I can logically see that I’ve had enough. I’m not a huge over-eater but occasionally I get very snack-y.
6. When I was living in Germany my average daily calorie intake was way too low. I have more energy now that I’m eating more. I feel better!
7. You’re able to learn what makes you feel full, satisfied, and nourished and what isn’t worth eating. I’m a pretty healthy eater but this app really helps you hone into your bodies specific needs and it shows you when those needs change too.
I’ve been using My Fitness Pal for about 1.5 months and I’ve lost 3.4 pounds. That may not sound like much but that’s the second best loss I’ve ever been able to accomplish since my Thyroid decided to divorce me. The best was when I did one month of extreme Paleo and worked out daily. It wasn’t better by much either. I don’t know if I will keep losing but I’ll keep logging. My husband lost about 7 pounds in the first two weeks using the app. He was prone to overeating and over snacking. He’s very active but he was eating the wrong kinds of food too often. He’s still indulging mind you, just a bit less and making sure his desserts or treats have some nutritional value. He’s also more mindful of his salt intake and meal portion sizes. Since this program is free, you have no reason not to try it. I’d suggest a whole month trial and see what you learn!
Have you tried My Fitness Pal? Love it or hate it? Let us know in the comments below.