I honestly admire those that like to stay fit and healthy and do it all by “listening to their body” and “eating what feels right”. I’m not really one of those. Maybe it’s because I don’t fully understand my body yet, but I feel like I work best on a meal plan. I love having my meals and macros set, preparing my meals ahead of time, and following it to the dot. It’s sort of a game for me (yup this is my idea of fun. Lame? most definitely, but effective? Heeellll yah). I like to cater my meal plan to my current workout schedule. For example: currently training for a marathon means changing my meal plan to a higher percentage of calories from carbs and less from fat (especially this week since I’m carb-loading: read all about it here), or when I’m on more of a weightlifting schedule, I switch up my macros to more calories coming from plant based proteins in order to boost muscle growth. How do I keep track of it all? Fancy equipment? Blood tests? Meetings with nutritionists? Hours spent totalling and counting all the calories written on the back of food packets? Lol nope, it’s just me, my trusty Samsung, and my favourite app ever.
The best part about MyFitnessPal is it’s simplicity. Even for the most technologically-challenged of us (ie. me), it’s user friendly aaaassss F. First of all it’s a free download on AppStore (win), so no excuse to not get your hands on this baby and try it out, even just for a day. When you download it you first enter your basic info: height, weight, age, how physically active you are and your goals (if you want to maintain, lose or gain weight, and how much). And from this information, the app derives your ideal calorie consumption (but this obviously something you can change if you think that you need more or less).
MyFitnessPal has two parts to it: food and exercise. To be honest I don’t use the exercise part at all for a few reasons. First of all when you enter the exercise you’ve done, it adds the calories that you’ve burned working out back into your plan therefore if you burn 500cal going for a run, you’re supposed to eat 500 more calories during the day. I don’t really like working this way, where it feels like I’m just eating depending on what I did as a workout. I prefer to increase my base calorie consumption and make sure it is enough to fuel my workouts. Another reason I don’t use the fitness part is because they don’t have all the exercises and when I do BBG workouts (see my review for the program here), it’s difficult to enter the info.
The food part however, is great, and makes making my own meal plans super easy. You simply go on the “diary” tab, click “add food”, and a list of your recent foods will pop-up. Since I pretty much always eat the same thing, I can usually find anything I’ve eaten on there but otherwise just type in any food (literally anything) and options will come up. If you eat something packaged, no fret, there’s a barcode scanner where you just scan the barcode on the wrapper and finito, all the info straight into the app. For real, could not be easier.
The handiest tool on the app is the macro tracker. Macros are essentially your 3 basic macronutrients: carbs, fat and protein. You can switch up your percentage of calories from each of these groups depending on what you’re going for (if you don’t change your setting, MyFitnessPal will automatically set you on 50% carbs, 30% fat and 20% protein). On the macro tab you can see how you’re doing in the day as compared to the goals you have set out for yourself. Even more importantly, you can see how many nutrients you’ve consumed as compared to the RDI (recommended daily intake).
Of course there are limitations. Since the app offers the option to actually create a food, sometimes if you look something up, there might be missing nutrients, false info etc. since it’s someone else that has created the food themselves. but a green checkmark is next to the food products that have been approved by the app itself, no worries, MyFitnessPal gotcho back.
Other great features include being able to add full meals if they were the same as the day before (which let’s be real, is my case most of always), being able to create foods (if you always cook the same soup, you can enter all the ingredients and save it as: my homemade vegetable soup etc.) as well as messaging and “connect with your friends” options that I never use cuz I’ve got enough social media in my life and really only use the app for food tracking, but hey, maybe could be cool if you’re following a food plan with your friends or something?
All in all, this app is bomb. Don’t know what I would do without it. And even if you’re not the type of person planning on following a strict food plan, or you don’t like the idea of counting calories, I seriously recommend trying it out for at least a few days. You can learn so much, you really don’t realize what you’re eating until you see it in a pie chart. The first time I used it, my sugar allowance for the day was like 400%, and I hadn’t realized that I was actually eating way more fruit than necessary at the expense of missing out on other nutrients. So it’s free, literally takes like 4 seconds to download, it scans barcodes and everything, so no reasons to not have a new pal to support your fitness journey.