Tuesday, August 26, 2014

More than a Calorie Counter: A Review of MyFitnessPal Products

A fork holds a pea, a salad, and a cookie.  Do you need help keeping track of the food you eat?
Do you need help counting calories or compiling
additional nutritional information?

MyFitnessPal's free calorie-counting products are user-friendly, educational and effective.

I have been ten to twenty-five pounds over my ideal weight, up and down, for about five years. Just exercising has not helped me lose those extra pounds I've been carrying, and I have known all along that the way I was eating was contributing to the problem. Two weeks ago, I decided to make a change. For my first step, I sat down with my phone to search for "an app for that." I found MyFitnessPal, a free mobile app with very high user ratings. I decided to give it a try. Two weeks later, I've lost four pounds, and I'm more knowledgeable than ever about how my lunchtime choices affect my health.

MyFitnessPal's Free Mobile App and Web Site are Quick and Easy to Use

MyFitnessPal can be used quickly and easily on either a user's iPhone mobile device, Android mobile device, Blackberry device, or on the Web site. In large green numbers, the homepages display the number of calories a user, based on his or her start-up goals and settings, has left to consume in a day. As the day progresses and entries are added, food calories are deducted from the total, and exercise calories are added to the total. Summary information is available as a graph, or as a "Fitness," "Nutrition," or "Progress" Report. It's very easy to check-in and keep track.

Although it may seem like an overwhelming task to keep track of calories, this product makes it quite simple. Every user has access to an extensive database of both calorie-per-food and calorie-per-exercise information. It's very easy to search for a food by brand, choose a serving size, and add the food to the diary for the day. Exercises can be searched by type, time spent, and level of activity. Foods and exercises that are used often, like a daily coffee, for example, can be clicked and reused in seconds without searching. Calories can also be quickly added or deducted without being linked to a food or exercise, and foods or exercises a user wants to add to the database can be added at any time.

The Site Provides Educational Nutrition and Calorie Information

As mentioned previously, each MyFitnessPal user has access to an extensive database of calorie and nutritional information. This type of information, at a person's fingertips, can be used to make decisions on a daily basis about what to eat - before it's purchased and eaten. Not only do the databases contain Calorie information, but fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, protein, and vitamins A, C, calcium, and iron. This makes it possible for nutritional information to be used by people who may have additional health concerns in any way they may need to use it. For instance, a person with high blood pressure may be more interested in sodium or potassium than in calories.

In addition to the databases, this product offers access to recipes, personal recipe calorie calculations, weight-loss tickers, a Basal Metabolic Rate calculator, a Body Mass Index calculator, and a heart calculator. All of these are useful on their own, but when used together to promote an all-around healthy lifestyle, they are invaluable. The more educated a person is about his or her own health, the healthier he or she is likely to be.

A Free Online Product to Help You Eat Healthier 

According to the 2011 Food and Health Survey conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation, when asked "Over the past six months, have you made any changes in an effort to improve the healthfulness of your diet?" 59% of American responders answered, "Yes." To me, this does not seem like enough. So perhaps with its extensive tools and databases, ease of use, and its social networking functions, MyFitnessPal will help more people meet this main objective, the objective of those Americans who responded "Yes," is to lose weight and lead healthier lives. One has only to look at the outpouring of support, positive messages, and success stories on the Message Boards to see that this product works. One only has to try it to feel that it works.


International Food Information Council Foundation (2011). 2011 Food and Health Survey. Retrieved from http://www.foodinsight.org/

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication. Originally published on Aug 11, 2011.

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