MyFitnessPal – The Good and The Bad

MyFitnessPal is a food diary, calorie/ nutrition tracker all within an easy to use app. You can access it on your phone or online. Many people use it to track their overall calorie intake, their steps or exercise (calories output), their macro breakdown, track their water intake or to record foods to identify ‘trigger foods’.
It is used by a variety of people for a variety of goals including but not limited to:
Maintenance
Weight Loss
Weight Gain
The app is free. Like most apps you can get a Premium product that has extra features, but you. For me, the free one suits me and my wallet just fine.
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My Experience

I initially downloaded MyFitnessPal after returning from surgery and being underweight. I lost a lot of muscle and weight after surgery and for being so sick beforehand. Prior to surgery I was consuming a liquid supplement called “Resource Plus” as I couldn’t handle solid foods with my illness.
After surgery I had to eat Low Fibre foods for 6weeks. I continued to consume two – three Resource Plus supplements a day to assist in regaining weight as well as fuelling my body with the all the nutrients it needed in an easy digestible way.   After I had started gaining my weight back to a healthy range, with my dietician’s permission I stopped the supplements and returned to eating 100% real foods (no liquid supplementation).
When I returned to exercise I downloaded MyFitnessPal as a recommendation from my Strength Coach to ensure I was fuelling my body with enough calories. Although the exercise was initially very minimal my body was still healing and I needed as much nutrient dense foods as possible. The purpose of MyFitnessPal for me was for weight gain and ensuring I was getting enough calories and nutrients.
MyFitnessPal breaks down the nutritional information so you can clearly see you day to day nutritional activities. It mainly focuses on the macronutrients (carbs, fats and proteins) however it also shows certain vitamins and minerals.
Prior to surgery I was iron deficient. This was not due to me eating enough iron, this was due to my body not being able to absorb the nutrients (hence losing so much weight). After surgery it was assumed that my body would be able to absorbs all my nutrients, so monitoring my Iron intake was a priority.

The Good

+ Calorie Tracker (including nutrients)
+ Large food database
+ Exercise Tracker (and counts your steps)
I do not use this as I aim for a certain intake regardless of if I train or not. Although I like the step counter for office competitions. 
+ Community and blogs
+ Feedback and graphs
+ Educates and highlights the importance of serving and portion sizes.
+ Educated and highlights not all calories are created equal.

The Bad

– Possible to create an unhealthy obsession
Please be mindful that with anything you can create an unhealthy obsession. Be mindful of what you want out of it, what are your goals. Be your own guinea pig and work out what is best for you.
– Time consuming
If you are recording strictly you require measuring and weighing your food, checking nutrition labels etc. This can be time consuming. I followed it loosely as I am trying to increase weight so I just try and make my serving size bigger, however for someone with weight-loss goals finding out your serving sizes is important. Plus I always recommend reading nutrition labels. Especially for me who has some dietary restrictions it is vital, but it is also important for people wanting to lose weight. If sugar is one of the first ingredients listed that means it is one of the main ingredients (they order the ingredients by proportions in a descending order)
There are many meals you can copy across so if your day to day meals are similar it is not too time consuming. Also I find that if you do it for a week or two you get the feel of what is what and you can base it off experience. So the initial experience is definitely useful but longterm you’ll have that experience and knowledge behind you and tracking your food won’t be necessary.
– Inconvenient
If you are recording and tracking strictly, weighing food can be inconvenient if you are not at home, especially when eating out or eating at someone’s house.  Balance is key!
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Final Thoughts

At the end of the day I think this is a great aid in assisting you with your overall health goals. Whether you are using it as a loose guide to ensure you are eating enough or not over eating, or using it for a few weeks to portion control, or strictly measuring the food you are eating for serious weight loss or weight gain it caters for all individuals.
Please note MyFitnessPal is not the only app available (however it is the only one I have tried). There are many other calorie trackers/ food diaries that are out there. Like anything find the one that works best for you and your goals. 

4 thoughts on “MyFitnessPal – The Good and The Bad

  1. avofoodies says:

    Wow, that was a great in-depth review! I personally used MyFitnessPal (MFP) for weight loss reasons and it did NOT work well. MFP caused me to be underweight because when I put my weight and height and my goal to lose 0.5lbs a week (which was the slowest weight loss default setting) it gave me a caloric restriction of 1200. I thought that this was accurate and didn’t question the low caloric number that now after educating myself I know was too little. I became a slave to keeping MFP and even as I tried to not count calories as I was recovering, I couldn’t. So after a year of trial and error, I use a food journal. I simply write down the time and what I ate. No calories and numbers. Just my thoughts and feelings and it works much much better for me.

    Long story short, I think for someone who works way too mathematically and can get very driven, MFP is not the program for me. But I can definitely see that for someone who needed to gain weight, it’s useful to track calories.

    xo,
    Stephanie

    Like

    • fitnessandguts says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Stephanie. Yes you have to be careful with the calories it recommends. I find its best to work with a dietician. I entered my goal manually.

      I also think it’s a really good point to raise that people, especially females, have been hammered that losing weight means very stricter eating. If you are exercising and not eating much your body can go into starvation mode and hold onto every calorie it can. Sufficient eating of the right foods is imperative to weight loss and gaining muscle.

      Glad to hear you have a healthy relationship with food now 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • avofoodies says:

        Yes, I completely agree with you that despite the “calories in and calories out” phrase that is rampant today in society, you have to input enough calories for your body to function and metabolize – or else you’re keeping all the food in! While my experience with MFP wasn’t great, I’m glad to know that you had a positive experience.
        Xo,
        Stephanie

        Like

  2. Misty Meadows Homestead says:

    Great review. I hope that you are health is improved and that you’re doing much better. Personally, my experience with MFP has been good. I have used in the past to lose weight and maybe because it is so time-consuming, it distracted me from wanting to eat. Several years ago, it had a feature predicting how much weight you would lose based on your calorie intake and calorie expenditure’s. They remove that feature as I think they believed it could fuel peoples obsession with weight loss. It’s a feature I do miss. I just started using it again for weight loss purposes. I’m hoping that it will help me stay accountable and on track.

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