This morning I want to take a look at a tool that I have found immensely helpful in my journey to slim down. Myfitnesspal.com is a website designed to keep track of logoyour daily calorie and nutrition totals from the food you ingest. The website, as well as the accompanying mobile phone app let you quickly access an extremely large database of food products to help give you an accurate idea of daily consumption. They allow users to enter in all sorts of products, quickly expanding the number of food items under their curation.

The way food items are entered is pretty intuitive and quick. You can specify which items belong to which meals, and the portions that you consume. For an example,  below is my entry for yesterday to help better visualize what i am talking about. Yeah, I ate BBQ soy chips for breakfast. Come at me.

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As you can see, yesterday was a good day. My target goal each and every day is to hit the 1600 net calorie goal. This provides me with a steady 1.5 lb a week loss with NO exercise factored in. This value is calculated for me by taking into account my BMR (basal metabolic rate) and my activity level. When I workout, I earn more food . . . a concept I actually really like. Yesterday I burned approximately 500 calories through running and stationary bike riding. That bumped me up to 2093 calories allowed, though I only ate 1800 of them.  I think it is one of the best ways to stay on track that I’ve ever used.

What I Like

The mobile app is pretty user-friendly. It is pretty easy to quickly look up food items and add them into your meals. Another big bonus that is a lot of fun to do is the built-in barcode scanner that links barcodes with the nutrition information. Though I can honestly say I don’t often use it now that most of my items that I eat on a day to day basis are already in my frequent items lists, it still is a ton of fun to see what the database has in it. The database is legitimately packed with a TON of things, from all major resturants  and grocery stores . . . and even pretty obscure things like “Homemade Vegan Chili”.

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I also like the integration with friends, so that you can leave encouragement, or more likely harassment when people aren’t sticking to logging their calories. I can see this being a pretty powerful tool to help people stay on track.

Additionally, they also allow integration with many devices and apps, including the Espresso fitness bikes at the gym. One of these days I’ll link the two together and see what happens.

I want to quickly point out that I actually tend to use the website version a TON more then the mobile app, just because I find doing anything on my phone tedious and non-enjoyable.

What I Don’t Like

The food database is a blessing and a curse all at the same time. Often you have several choices for a particular product each entered slightly different by the user base. The problem with crowd-sourcing all of the nutritional information is that you often have to scan through a couple of entries to make sure you get one that seems credible. There is a tally of how many users confirmed an entry, but still it can be frustrating figuring out exactly which to use. I wish the database was a little bit more controlled and perhaps error-checked, though they might do this behind the scenes and I’m not aware of it.

Additionally, their website interface is a bit cluttered with advertisements, though I guess I can’t really complain because it is a free service. I just think it could use a bit of a facelift. The reporting features are a little lack-luster, though I also understand how difficult it is to create dynamic visuals to represent workout and calorie information (ie weigh-in Wednesday style graphs). You can only do so much to make it interesting.

My Recommendation

If you are starting to calorie count, sign up for myfitnesspal. I really do believe it can make a huge difference, and is well worth the effort of logging your food. It takes the guess-work out of calorie counting. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

* Note that I have zero affiliation with Myfitnesspal, and only use it for my own personal use. I am not receiving anything for this review nor do I expect to.