Many people spend time taking care of their diet. We might have a goal of weight loss or even weight gain in mind, or we might want to ensure we eat more healthily. MyFitnessPal is a longstanding calorie counting app with accompanying website that is designed to help us monitor our nutrition as well as raw calorie intake, and it does much more too.
The app will accept data from a range of well-known third party activity tracking apps, importing their data so you can centralize their information within the MyFitnessPal app. That's quite nice because if you use different apps to monitor your exercise routines, your history will always be here.
MyFitnessPal is free, but if you chose to go premium the ads disappear, some exclusive Premium subscribers content becomes available and you get access to advanced features like analysis of the food you've logged to see what's good and bad for you, and the ability to set different calorie and nutrient goals for different days of the week.
Flexible goal setting: At setup you can tell MyFitnessPal if you want to lose weight, maintain weight or gain weight. That's good as not everyone gets into monitoring their eating with a desire to drop weight. Some of us want to eat more healthily, and some need to put weight on through a calorie-controlled regime.
You set your goals: Once you've told the software how active you are you, tell it your height and weight. If you've said you want to lose weight, it asks how much weight you want to lose and how quickly you want to lose it. A recommendation is made for how much to make the target loss each week, and this seems steady enough to be achievable rather than asking you to do way too much too soon. As we generally stand a much better chance of maintaining weight changes if we reach our goals by changing habits for the long term, working in manageable increments and longer term seems like a very good idea.
Integrating exercise apps: MyFitnessPal can be used to store information about exercise as well as calorie intake. You can record exercise done and add notes just as you might with a training diary entering this manually if you don't use an app to track exercise but ...
Lots of apps are supported: ... there is a huge array of third-party apps that are supported, including from top-grade sports fitness wearables like Fitbit, Polar and Garmin
Comprehensive food database: The food database contains more than six million foods with full nutritional information -- not just calories -- and a calculator so you can tell the app how many servings you've had.
Keeping track of recipes: The app will even keep track of your own recipes, making it easy to access them again and again from one central location.
Barcode scanner: Logging food intake can be boring, so MyFitnessPal lets you do this by scanning barcodes. I found it knew every food I tried to scan, with full nutritional information, which is pretty good going.
Supportive articles: The app offers lots of articles on the topic of nutrition and health to keep you interested and provide some gentle education along the way.
Needs to be used all the time: In fairness, this isn't so much a specific criticism of MyFitnessPal as one of all food logging apps. You do need to use it all the time for it to be accurate. That's different to wearables that automatically count steps or distance travelled and share their info with an app. No app can know what you are eating in the same way a wearable can know how far you have travelled, and it's up to you to be honest!
You'll need to be precise: Again, this isn't a particular issue with MyFitnessPal, more one with this genre of app. To really get the best of MyFitnessPal, like other calorie counting apps, you will need to be accurate with the information you give it. Measuring and weighing foodstuffs isn't great fun, and it's very difficult (borderline impossible) if you are eating out, to check weights and ingredients.
MyFitnessPal is an easy to use app that's packed with features. Linking to other apps that collect activity information means exercise data goes straight into the app. There's an accompanying web site which also contains your information. Barcode scanning means you can capture the calorific and nutritional details of all those wrapped snacks you sneak during the day, but with so much information needing to be entered manually you will have to be disciplined about data entry.