The Rec on Tech: MyFitnessPal
With 2017 in full swing, you might be struggling to eat healthy. Here's an app to help.
A healthy diet or consistent workout schedule may sound easy, but let’s be honest, we are all human. It’s hard to remember what we ate for breakfast — and who knows how many calories are in your lunch? Thankfully, there is faster way to track your diet and exercise: the MyFitnessPal app.
The application keeps it simple with three separate sections to track your diet’s highlights: the Home, Diary and Progress tabs. When you first launch the app, you see the Home tab. Here you’ll find a cache of dietary and health information and articles, posts from other people, and even your friends’ progress (if they use the app). The most important information is at the top of the screen: your daily calories remaining. This count pulls information from the next tab, the Diary.
The Diary tab is the most important tab in MyFitnesspal, and you’ll spend most of your time there. This section tracks information about your daily meals. Essentially, it is an easy-to-use calorie counter. When you first use the app, you’ll enter in your weight, height, activity level and weight goal. From there, the diary will calculate a daily calorie goal. Each time you eat, you’ll quickly enter the meal in the app.
Additionally, the app tracks your macros (protein, carbohydrates and fats), so you have even more control. Here you can also use the “Search for a Food” bar to find exactly what you ate and its nutritional values.
Don’t feel like manually entering the info? The app contains a barcode scanner, which allows you to scan the barcodes of many packaged foods. MyFitnessPal then retrieves nutritional information from its ever-growing database and lets you log it. If you find yourself eating the same thing regularly, check the “Frequent” section, which displays your most commonly eaten foods. Tired of searching for individual items? MyFitnessPal lets you create custom meals by grouping together foods that you normally eat for a meal.
The app also allows people to add their own recipes. If you found the recipe online, you can either pull it directly from the web, or you can enter your ingredients manually. Enter your meal’s food, and the app automatically updates the calorie count at the top of the page. At the bottom of the tab, you can add your water intake and exercise, so the app also accounts for those calories you burned on your morning run.
Also, MyFitnessPal can track your steps and automatically incorporate them into your Diary tab by using your phone’s built-in pedometer. Interested in seeing how many grams of fiber or vitamin C you’ve eaten? Tap on the “Nutrition” button at the bottom of the Diary tab, and the app will show you detailed information about the foods you’ve eaten that day. Use this information to reach your desired goal, and you can check your progress in the next tab.
The Progress tab is where you see your body’s progression. You can log your weight to see how much weight you have been losing (or gaining!). MyFitnessPal creates a line graph to help you see when you’ve been slacking — or how well you have been sticking to your new eating plan.
On top of all the tabs MyFitnessPal offers, there are a few useful features in the “More” section of the app. The app seamlessly integrates with other fitness apps and devices, such as the Apple Health app and Fitbit trackers. You can also set in-app reminders to remind yourself to enter your meals.
MyFitnessPal is a great tool to help you monitor and control your dietary habits. Both pocket-sized and easy to use, what more could you want? With MyFitnessPal, not only is dieting no longer difficult, but the app is one of the best ways to transform your phone from a distraction to a powerful weight-loss tool.
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Cat S.