In a previous article on losing weight, I discussed the general issue of people overestimating how much they burn, and underestimating how much they eat. Well, the good news is that there is a tool that will help you correct these issues relatively easily. The bad news though is that you still have to make an effort if you want to lose weight. It’s a tool that helps you, not a magic pill that does it for you.
Anyhow, I have been testing the MyFitnessPal application for iPhone over the past few days. The application is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and as a web application also. For free. You can’t beat free. You need to download, create an account, and then you’re set to go.
When creating a profile, you will enter some data (e.g. age, gender, current weight, height, etc.) and will also enter a target weight and a date for reaching your target. My first test was to check if the app. warns you when trying to lose weight to quickly. And thankfully, it does. If you say you want to lose 10lbs in one week, you will get a message suggesting that it isn’t recommended. Check 1.
The app. allows you to enter what you eat, and the exercise you do. You get to choose if you add a food entry, or an exercise entry, through a nicely designed interface:
When it comes to exercising, it separates cardio and weight activities. I only tested the cardio activities. It comes preloaded with many options, and for the most part, you will be able to get a pretty good estimate of your calorie expenditure. When it comes to food, this is where the app. is really great. It comes with a large library of foods, a search function, a very large selection of meals from various chain restaurants (Starbucks, Chilis, BJ’s, etc.) and a scan function, which lets you scan a bar code, and enter the value direction. The phone locks in very quickly, and therefore, you have no search to do. If requires the bar code to be intact, so do this before tearing the pack.
Not only does it enter the calorie intake, it also enters the nutritional breakdown in terms of carbs (separating sugars and dietary fibers), fats, proteins, nutrients, etc. This is especially useful for people who need to monitor their sugar levels, their calcium, and iron intake, etc. You can see daily and weekly summary, and evaluate how you are doing in with respect to your target weight, but also whether you are eating a balanced diet, as it indicates if you are over or under the current dietary guidelines set forth by the FDA. Of course, take this with a grain of salt since these recommendations vary per individual.
You can also choose to get a pie (pun intended) chart of your food breakdown, and you can also see how well you are doing with respect to your target weight, and target date.
The app. also provides some pretty good insight into your nutrition and how it relates to your training, even if you aren’t trying to lose weight. For instance, I tend to train very well from Monday through Thursday, and hit a bit of a wall on Friday, to jump back on Saturday and Sunday. I always assume that it is due to a combination of work, workout, and shorter nights. However, looking at my daily nutritional intake during the week, I have noticed that I tend to not eat enough during the week (I know some are already laughing at this preposterous idea), with some days before short of 1500kcal to just maintain weight. On Friday, I tend to not train as well, and eat a lot more. So, it seems that the poor training on Friday may well be due to a less than adequate intake during the week, which accumulates until Friday, when I end up having to rest, and eat more.
So, all in all, a very easy to use app. with not much of a learning curve, a simple, well-designed interace, with all the components you’d expect to see for a fitness app, which will be useful for both those who want to lose weight, and those who want to eat healthy, and exercise.