Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Product Review: MyFitnessPal Smartphone App

If you are looking to improve your diet to lose weight or reduce your risk of chronic disease, writing down what you eat is critical to your success. Food logging provides a higher level of accountability and helps you uncover the days/times/situations that are giving you the most trouble. When these situations are properly identified, a strategy can be created to deal with them effectively.  

The My Fitness Pal app is a powerful tool to help you do this. You can easily record your food, and more importantly, this app allows you to keep track of critical aspects of your diet like total calories, fiber, sodium and percent fat, protein, and carbohydrate. While this app is not the first or only app that allows you to record you food, it is the ease of use that makes this such a home run.

Pros
1) My Fitness Pal is free, which is awesome.

2) The number of foods in the My Fitness Pal database is mind-numbing at 5 million. You can search for brand names as well as food names. For example, if you get your almond butter freshly ground at Whole Foods, you can find it specifically in the database, instead of just looking up generic “almond butter”.

3) You can scan barcodes with your smart phone to identify a food.

4) Tutorial videos are provided that explain each and every feature in detail.

5) Once you are done logging your food, you can get nutrition summaries of your day, including your calories, fiber, sugar, and sodium consumption. You can also quickly view a pie chart of your fat, protein, and carb distribution. This is my favorite feature and provides a great summary of how you did that day.

6) You can save meals and import them on another day. This is a great feature, because most of us rotate a few different breakfasts and lunches the majority of the time. Logging these meals is instantaneous when you can just call them in.

7) There is a friend feature that allows you to share your food logs with others.  This is useful if you want to show your nutritionist, trainer, or doctor what you are doing.

8) You can import whole recipes from popular sites like allrecipes.com. The app will scan in the ingredients, fill out the nutrition data, and assign you totals per serving. I haven’t used this feature, but it seems pretty handy for those that cook a lot.

Would I Recommend My Fitness Pal?
Absolutely! This is particularly valuable for my clients that are just starting out. It is also useful for those that have been successful in losing the majority of their weight and are now trying to lose that last couple of pounds, which can require a bit more focus on their diet.

So what should you shoot for? Although these recommendations are highly dependent on activity level, I have my female weight loss clients shoot for about 1200-1300 calories per day, and my men f0r 1500-1600 calories per day. As far as fat, protein, and carbohydrate as a percentage of calories, I look for 20% of calories as lean protein, 30-35% of calories as healthy vegetable fat, and 45-50% of calories as low glycemic load carbohydrate.

Pick up this free app on your android or IPhone. You’ll be glad you did.

 

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