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4.18.2014

Wellness App Review: MyFitnessPal

Studies have shown that logging your food can be an effective method for losing weight. It allows you to see how many calories you are consuming each day and to identify areas where you can make improvements to your diet. The free MyFitnessPal app and website are useful tools to help you log your food intake (and exercise, too) so that you can achieve and maintain your nutrition and fitness goals.

How it works

MyFitnessPal is available as a free download on iTunes, Google Play, Blackberry, and Windows phones. When you create an account with MyFitnessPal, the system will automatically set a diet profile with personalized fitness goals based on your height, weight, gender, activity level, and weight loss goals. You also have the option to create and customize your own goals. For example, if you wanted to follow a low-sodium diet, you could change your daily sodium goal to your ideal target.

The food logging tool is fairly simple, allowing you to easily add your meals and snacks throughout the day using the app or website. If you have foods that you eat on a regular basis, you can save them as favorites, making them even faster to log on an ongoing basis. At the end of each day, you can look at a nutritional breakdown in charts and graphs to see where you did well and what areas you may need to improve upon.

No matter what types of food you enjoy eating, it’s easy to find these items in the MyFitnessPal system and track it accurately. You can scan the barcode of a food you’re eating, or you can also search the MyFitnessPal database for that particular food. In rare instances the program may not recognize the barcode you scan, or you can’t find the food in the database, but luckily you can also manually input calories and other data from that food so you can count it in your daily log.

You can also log your exercise and weight using MyFitnessPal. This information can be manually entered or you can sync the app with other product like Fitbit, MapMyFitness, and The Withings Wi-Fi Scale. If you log your exercise, your daily calorie allotment will be automatically updated to account for daily calories burned.

Pros: MyFitnessPal makes food logging simple. The food database is extensive (it currently includes over 3.9 million food choices) and the barcode-scanning feature is a huge time-saver. It also has a recipe feature that allows users to input the ingredients of a recipe and calculate its nutritional information. And if you have a support network of family and friends, it allows you to share your personal progress with other members of the MyFitnessPal community.

Cons: It can take a little bit of time to set up your recipes and favorite meals in the beginning, but once this is done, it will make future logging a breeze. Most food in the database is user-contributed, but the nutrition information seems to be quite accurate.

Overall consensus:MyFitnessPal is a useful resource to help you manage your weight. If you are committed to tracking your meals and losing weight, this app can provide great value.

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the Wellness Coaching program, reach out to your Wellness Coach for assistance with finding the right wellness resources for you!