Today I’m sharing some tips and tricks to track your food in the My Fitness Pal app.
The basics of the My Fitness Pal App
I’ve been using the free version of My Fitness Pal app for years now to track my weight and food. While I haven’t used it every single day, I have been pretty regular when I’ve been focusing in my food intake. I recently upgraded to the premium version and I’m planning on writing a post about if I think it’s worth it to upgrade. (Update, that post is written and you can find it here.) As much as I like the premium version, the free version worked just fine for me for years. It’ll get the job done for you too if you don’t mind adds and less customization. You just won’t get the bells and whistles that you have to pay for.
One of the big selling features of My Fitness Pal is its extensive database. I can find most foods in it, even though I live in Canada and there’s quite a few different brands here that aren’t available in the US. And even if they don’t have the exact brand name, it’s easy enough to find something similar in terms of calories and macros. Having the foods in the database makes it so much easier (and quicker) to add meals to my day.
It did take a few days worth of tracking to get the hang of using the app, but once it became a habit it was super easy to use. In addition to searching for foods my typing it in, My Fitness Pal also has a built in UPC scanner, so you can just scan a bar code with your phones camera and it automatically pops up. It honestly doesn’t get much easier than that.
Once you’ve used it for a bit, foods that you’ve tracked before pop up at the top of your list, so they’re easy to add again. If I’m making a smoothie for breakfast and want to add a serving of yogurt that I also tracked yesterday, it’ll be the first yogurt that pops up when I start typing yogurt into the search bar.
I find that the app is really quite intuitive to use and it works how I would think it would. If you ever run into anything My Fitness Pal has a great website to answer questions. Since it’s also a really popular food tracker there are a ton of tutorials online. It’s usually pretty easy to find your answer quickly by using google.
Calorie and macro goals
Although the My Fitness Pal app takes you through a short set up process when you first start using it, I think it’s worth making an appointment with your doctor or a Registered Dietitian to figure out what you should be eating. I’ve heard that people have been given quite low calorie ranges to eat, which wouldn’t be very sustainable.
There’s so many factors that should be taken into consideration when deciding how much and what you should be eating. It really is a good idea to talk to your health professional about your diet. They have a good grasp on your personal health situation. Medications, injuries, activity level, and health issues all factor into your diet. It’s always good to talk to someone who can look at the big picture and give you some individualized advice.
The My Fitness Pal app also integrates with other apps and fitness trackers. I have my Fitbit Charge 2 synced up with My Fitness Pal. There are quite a few other smart scales and trackers that you can integrate with My Fitness Pal. It’s really nice to be able to have both my food and activity combined. It gives me a fuller picture rather than having just one or the other.
If you upgrade to premium you can access some additional features that aren’t available with the free version of My Fitness Pal. I’ll be sharing about some of them below.
With the free version of My Fitness Pal allows you to set one calorie and macro goal, but with premium you can set different goals for different days. This can be helpful when differentiating rest days and workout days.
If you’re unable to find a food in the My Fitness Pal database (or even if you’re in a hurry and don’t have the time to add specific foods), you can use the quick add macros feature and just add the macros to your food for the day instead of the individual foods.
You can also customize the nutrients that you get info about at the top of the app. Think carbs, fat, sodium. You can also designate any nutrient that you want to keep an eye on. It’s really helpful if you have a specific goal that you want to work on.
With the premium version you can decide to have the calories that you exercise added to your daily allotment or not. With the free version they’re automatically added to your daily calorie allowance, you don’t have a choice.
You can set calories goals for each meal and snack. I really like this feature because it gives me an idea of how much I have left to eat for each meal. It’s easier to stay on track throughout the day if I have those reminders each time I log food.
Another feature that I really like is that I can time stamp the times that I eat meals and snacks. It’s been really helpful in spotting patterns. For example, I know that if I wait too late to eat dinner I’m much more likely to eat more than I planned on because I’m so hungry. Making sure that I spread my meals out throughout the day is key to prevent that from happening.
The premium version of the My Fitness Pal app costs $50 USD annually or $10 USD per month.
Interested in more posts like this about healthy living? Check out my Fitness page for more. I also wrote a post about the tools I used to lose weight that might be something you’re interested in. I also have a post all about if My Fitness Pal Premium is worth the money. You can also find my favorite apps for healthy living here.
Do you use My Fitnes Pal? What’s your favorite feature?