My Fitness Pal - The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

My Fitness Pal - The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

OK, I know that we shouldn’t be a slave to machines, but I am. Stop with the judgy eyes... I am completely a slave to MyFitnessPal (MFP).

I am not too sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

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What is My Fitness Pal anyway? My Fitness Pal is an app for Android and Apple that tracks your diet and exercise. Their data base is large, which makes it appealing. It calculates your daily caloric intake, keeps records of your progress, and even gives you kudos for tracking for certain periods of time.

I was turned on to My Fitness Pal by one of the physicians I worked with after I lost 160 pounds and tracked everything. By hand. With a pen.

Yes, I tracked for years by hand. For me, this was a necessity, but it was very cumbersome and once I was shown how to use the app, I was off and running. I looked at it every second of every moment of every day.

Yes, I have to say, I love that this app tracks macros, tracks calories and also tracks the percent of each macro. It does track your exercises as well, and one of my acquaintances (I'm not saying friend because I am embarrassed I have friends that do this..) even tracked sex to see how much she would lose doing it.

Yes, it even tracks sex. I guess. I haven’t tried it. No, I am not talking about sex, I am talking about tracking it...

Why use this app? I feel this app is one of the easiest to use because it has a better data base than any other one I have been introduced to.

Diet tracking has never been easier, in my opinion. I also like that you can track how much you are burning as well with the exercise.

Now, is it super accurate? I feel for the calories/food you have to pick something with either a check by it (shows that it is confirmed by the restaurant you are eating from) because random people can input stuff and put it up there. It's convenient because you can have the app on your smartphone and input on the fly.

What uses are there for My Fitness Pal?

Obviously this app is for dieting. Whether you are a very rigid macro counter or loosely counting calories, this app is helpful.

Back in the day, you counted servings, and we all know that a serving of meat is “supposed” to equal the palm of your hand. Well, depending on how big your hand was and how much you could hold in your hot little palm would determine your “serving.”

Fitness App

My Own Opinion

Oh man, I could write a book about my opinion on My Fitness Pal! Yes, a freaking huge book, too.

I really have a love-hate relationship with My Fitness Pal. I hate being tethered to it, but if I don’t have it, I feel lost. I have deleted it off my phone, only to put it back on 15 minutes later.

Here is my list of pros and cons of this app from a laypersons perspective:

  • Easy to use
  • Database is big
  • Makes dieting more precise with the goal portion of the My Fitness Pal
  • Can be used for multiple goals
  • Tracks exercises
  • Gives you healthy ideas/meal planning ideas via blogs and pop ups
  • You can make your own recipes and know how many macros/cals it is
  • You can do challenges on it with others for weight loss
  • Has a place for you to get to other apps—MapMyRide or Endomondo Sports Tracker as examples
  • You can even shop for clothes and UnderArmor Stuff, as My Fitness Pal is owned by them
  • Has a scanner you can use to scan items and get the nutritional information
  • It looks very busy since Under Armor has taken it over, almost cluttered in my opinion
  • Accuracy. If someone decides to put in a recipe or another food item manually, it may not be accurate
  • Going “Premium” costs money
  • Too many ads
  • Addictive

As you can see, the cons are less than the pros - at least for me. I like this app, especially when “dieting.” I do feel like this app can be over the top for someone who wants to maintain their weight or wants to do quasi calorie counting.

I think people get just a little addicted to it, and that is not necessarily a good thing. We forget, then, how to eat with portion control and some of us may even still weigh and measure everything out, even when we know what the portion size is.

In my case, I am not at the point that I can “intuitively” eat, and tracking is a must for me. Intuitive eating for me is sitting on the couch, eating cake and watching my fav shows on TV. So, for me, I feel like it helps me throughout my day.

Should You Use the My Fitness Pal app? This is highly individual.

If you need to lose weight and are tracking your food. Yes, I believe My Fitness Pal is a good tool. If you are like me and want to maintain your weight, I think it may be important for you to take a break from it from time to time.

Look, I have lost 160 pounds 8 years ago, and I still track. Is this a healthy thing to do mentally? Only you can answer that.

I honestly think it is in my case, and I have done the whole “break up” thing with My Fitness Pal. I found my portion control gets bigger as I get hungrier and for me, I started to gain without it. Crutch? Maybe. It is what it is, though.

I continue to use it to keep my weight off. If my mental health depends on me gaining my weight back versus using My Fitness Pal and being a little obsessed - I will take obsessed every single time.

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Julie Smith - January 11, 2019

I wouldn’t waste my money on the premium. I don’t like the ads, but I still get everything I need….

jeff gray - January 11, 2019

just stick with the free version, I don’t feel you need to buy the premium version unless you are completely new to diet and nutrition, and then you may want to buy the premium version to be able to get more specific.

Julie Smith - January 11, 2019

ohhhhh—I am checking that out. Sounds easier to use and not having all the ads is a huge bonus. I know that MFP goes “out” a lot. IDK if that is because Under Armour took it over or what. Thanks for the info!

Scottie Usher - January 11, 2019

I actually use the LifeSum app. Does all the exact same stuff as My Fitness Pal, but with literally a fraction of the ads on the free version. In fact, I don’t even notice ads for the most part. Only catch is, the free version only has basic features, and the paid version is kind of pricey. But honestly, the only advantage to to the premium version is micro-nutrient tracking, which would be nice, but not necessary.

The free version of LifeSum will let you customize your diet goals, such as percentage and/or grams of protein, carbs and fat for each day. And also allows to set your daily caloric goal. As you track your food for the day, it will show bar graphs for grams of macros consumed and remaining, and a graph for overall calories consumed and remaining. It even gives you recommended caloric goals for each meal and snacks based upon your personal daily goals. Also lets you track your target and current body weight.

LifeSum also has a large array of exercises to choose from as well. And you can set your daily goals to exclude your calories burned if you’re losing weight, or to subtract burned calories from consumed calories if you are trying to put on mass. And speaking of tracking exercise, it also allows you to track water consumption, so you always know how hydrated you are keeping yourself throughout the day.

Overall, LifeSum is a way better app with all the same features as MFP, but much more user friendly without all the popups.

Pete Sanchez - January 11, 2019

The app works great. Keeps you honest and will realize what you’re actually eating vs what you think you’re eating.

Julie Smith - January 11, 2019

It uses a ton of my data. I sometimes need a break from it, but then the next day, I get right back on it….

Julie Smith - January 11, 2019

I agree wholeheartedly with the whole premium thing. I have friends that are avid trackers and got the premium and said it was a waste of money.

Julie Smith - January 11, 2019

I still can’t turn away from it and its been years. I love it most of the time.

John Hennessy - January 11, 2019

If you are fairly new to counting macros, this is a must. This helped me a lot once I began counting macros.

jeff gray - January 11, 2019

This is a great tool to help get you started learning how to track and pay attention to your nutrition, I like the customization, and ease of use, like article stated, watch the foods you choose are accurate. Don’t need premium in my opinion unless you are completely new to tracking your food.

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