App Review: My Fitness Pal

I know sometimes I’m a total rollercoaster of new ideas, trying something only to drop it before even finishing. (One look at my Challenges page will make that abundantly clear… 🙂 ) But I believe we need to explore new ideas and new concepts until we find the right fit.

Recently, my exercise levels have been really low, and since I don’t want to gain a whole mess of weight and I haven’t stopped eating like I am training regularly, I decided I really needed to get my diet under control. Plus there’s that whole stress/sugar/fatigue cycle that I get into… but that’s probably a whole post unto itself…

My Fitness Pal LogoEnter a new app, ‘My Fitness Pal’ and the corresponding web site

To be honest, I expected to download the app and get a day or two out of it, and then lose interest. Afterall, I have tried carrying a notebook and taking note of my food, I’ve tried the food diary on Map my Run, I’ve tried a check mark system for fruits and veg, so it’s not like I haven’t tried other things. But none of them stuck.

Although I won’t tell you this one will stick forever, or that this app is ‘the one,’ so far, I have used it for 5 days straight and I am still really enjoying it.

Adding food is pretty easy through the search feature and ‘regular’ foods on both the web and mobile versions. but the kicker, the best thing about this app, is the barcode scanner! Put the barcode into the window, it snaps the picture, and then tells you what food you have. All the stats and data right there. Bango!

Oh man, how cool is that?

True, sometimes you have to search through a big list of foods when you search by name or by raw ingredient. “Pizza” would be a bit ridiculous to scan through to find ‘your’ pizza, but you can add your own food, a recipe (there is an app that calculates caloric values of recipes), or ‘build’ your meal out of raw ingredients (chicken plus eggplant plus spag sauce plus chesse = chicken eggplant parmesan in my books) and I’ve been pretty ‘approximate’ with many items.

Tuna Wasabi Quinoa Salad? Why don’t I just look up a “Quinoa Salad” and choose one that has a few veggies in it and figure that will be ‘about right’?

Works for me! 🙂

To get started, you just fill in some very basic profile data, set a target (gain, lose, maintain) and it tells you how many calories you should be targeting in a day. It also makes suggestions on how much carb, fat, protien etc you should be targeting (and these are adjustable based on your specific needs), and gives neat little summaries of these things.

You can also use measurements, such as waist or neck, as well as (or instead of) weight and it charts all those, too.

Log your exercise and it’ll calculate approximate caloric burn and add that to your calculations. Although I do feel the MapMyRun exercise calculations are more accurate and have a lot more options, this feature isn’t bad, particularly when you’re not doing much.

And since it’s a free app and I’m a total cheapskate, this app has really proven itself to be perfect for me!

But has it made a difference to how and what I eat? Yes, it has. Although I haven’t made drastic changes to what I eat, I have been more conscious about the foods I do choose, and about how much I choose to eat. I’m not measuring and weighing everything, but I’m definitely being more aware, and I have weighed a few things, just to see if I’m guessing in the right ball park (how much cheese is 50g afterall?).

The app calculated that I should eat around 1600 calories a day. That seems pretty reasonable to me.

Last night, after having my dinner and going a few hundred calories over my target, I found it much easier to say no to a piece of cake for dessert. I didn’t feel denied, I just decided that since I didn’t get my workout in, I wasn’t going to go any further over the target. I had eaten enough food, I felt fine, and I now had a logical, clear reason to say no to sweets. Ah! The wonders of empirical data! It made making that decision so much easier!

That alone makes it worth the extra few minutes a day of entering data for me! Live, immediate feedback!

Do you use any fitness apps? Have you tried this one? Give it a shot and let me know what you think! 🙂


I'd much rather know what you think... let me know :)

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