As part of my weight loss apps series, the first app (and website) I’m going to cover is My Fitness Pal. My Fitness Pal is a free app for android, apple and windows, all you need to provide to sign up is an email address and a password, this makes you an account with a username.
My Fitness Pal has been around for a number of years, according to wikipedia it started in 2005, and in 2015 had 80 million users. I became a member in November 2011, so just over 6 years ago. It’s highly unusual for me to use an app for that long unless I really love it, and I really do love my fitness pal.
In it’s simplest form, my fitness pal is a food tracking application, allowing you to track calories in vs calories out. When you sign up you set a number of goals, give it your personal information, and it gives you a target calorie amount to aim for. Then, when you eat or drink, you search for the food in the database and add it to your diary. When you have finished your day, you press complete and your diary is logged. You diary, weight, everything can be set to public or private depending on what you prefer.
My fitness pal is a lot more than just a food tracking app, you can add exercise, link it with other applications and devices for more accurate tracking, it has it’s own feed, where you can see you and your friends updates, there is a busy online community of forums and groups, it has a blog facility, you track your weight over the years, it really is a special app, made even more special being that it is free. They have recently introduced a premium version, but even with my high levels of use I haven’t subscribed, and don’t think it’s necessary at the moment, however I may in the future.
For food, you can set targets for your macro’s and nutrients, it really is very customisable, I have changed my aims to 60% carbs, 20% protein, 20% fat, and I find this achievable following a vegan diet. I am also aiming to lose 2 pounds a week (when my body agrees!) and using my height/weight/age and activity level, my fitness pal suggests around 1320 calories per day. Additionally, I have my fitbit linked to my fitness pal, so it also keeps track of my steps, and estimated calories burned. If I had one criticism it is that the calories burned is always, and I mean always overestimated, but I’m used to this now. It is a hot topic of debate whether to eat back any exercise calories, as any you gain via exercise are added to your total. Due to the overestimation, most people on the forums suggest eating around 50% of your calories back, I only eat any back if I’ve had a really active day.
I love the support of my fitness pal, I have real life friends on there, people who I’ve never met who we have supported each other for years, many people who are just serious about weight loss. (You can find me here, feel free to send me a friends request!). It’s a great feeling when you log a weight loss and your friends like and comment to see congratulations. You also get streaks for logging in, as you can see from the below picture I’m currently on a 410 day streak, my longest ever.
The food database of my fitness pal is also comprehensive, initially, years ago a lot of the foods were American, but over the years more and more people have been adding food (myself included) and pretty much everything is on there, the only thing I would say is to keep an eye on the nutrients, sometimes entries don’t have iron/calcium etc, I will go for a different version that has similar calories if it has the nutrients.
Calorie counting can become addictive, and of course focusing on it too much isn’t necessarily advisable, however, by logging everything in my fitness pal it allows for you to see exactly what you are eating, and when. You can customise meals, add recipes, it is very comprehensive and I would recommend it to anyone wishing to track their food, exercise and ultimately lose weight.
The app and the website are a little different, the app allows for you to see your full weight loss history since joining, whereas the website only allows for the previous year, here is mine, a bit of a rollercoaster!
To end this post, if it’s not clear whether I would recommend using my fitness pal, the answer is a resounding yes. I love the app, love the food database, love the linking with other apps and devices, love the social aspect of it, I really just think it’s great. Over the years it has continue to mature, they have continued to add more features and I think it will just continue to grow. I’m looking forward to being there to see it.