MY FITNESS PAL HACKS

MyFitnessPal (MFP) is arguably the most user friendly diet tracking app available. It can be accessed on your smartphone/tablet through a free downloadable app or on a desktop computer.

MFP is created around the idea that to lose or gain weight you need to account for everything you do.

 

GETTING STARTED

Creating an account is fairly straight forward, but once you have been through the setup process it is advisable to customise the goals as the ones that MFP choose for you are very generalised. You can do this by going to the Goals section, and then to Calorie & Macronutrient goals.
Knowing what to type in this section is very much dependent on your goals. There are plenty of calculators online to help you work out your calorie and macro aims, or you can use simple equations to do it yourself. On this page I show you how.
Once you have your numbers, pop them in and you’re good to go.
When you first sign in, the app will run you through the basics of how to upload a food. Hit the plus sign, select the meal, add a food and hit search. You’ll then be served up a lot of different options. Practically all food brands are already in the app itself and members of the community and MFP team have already filled out the calorie and nutrient information for you. If you are looking for a generic item, such as strawberries, look for a certified food with a green tick next to it and select this where possible. This means that the MFP team have agreed that the nutrition is accurate.
Tip: when searching for fruits and vegetables, type in the state it is in for the best results i.e “raw sweet potato” instead of “sweet potato”.
At the end of each day, click the Complete Diary in the top right hand corner or at the bottom of the diary screen. Hitting that will figure out how long it’ll take to get to your goal based on the day.
You can also have a closer look at your macro- and micro-nutrient balance by heading over to the Nutrition section. Here you can see whether you are hitting your targets and where you are deficient. The week/month view is interesting once you have tracked for a while (if you are so inclined).

USING BRANDED FOODS

When you buy packaged foods, you can use the handy barcode scanner within the smartphone app to find the exact product and save scrolling through generic user created items. On the desktop app just search for the exact name of the food and you should find the correct product i.e. “Heck Chicken Italia Sausages”.
Tip: there is a huge difference between cooked and raw foods in terms of nutrition. For example, with chicken breast weigh it before cooking, search for “raw chicken breast” and select the quantity for better accuracy.

CREATING RECIPES AND MEALS

One of the best features which a lot of people don’t know about is the Recipe section. Say you are making a meal with several portions in, like a chilli. Add the ingredients as you are using them, and at the end you can name the recipe and declare how many servings are in it before saving to your database. This way the next day when you grab a portion for lunch, you can quickly add this in.
You can also do this retrospectively. Say you added ingredients straight into the diary and liked the combination so much you want to use it again. Just click under the meal in your Food Diary and select “Save as Meal”. Or if you are having it the next day, click “Copy to Date” and select tomorrow.

CONNECTING TO DEVICES AND OTHER APPS

Linking accounts between a fitness tracker, step counter or other exercise tracker is a blessing and a curse. Some of the pros include being able to see your calorie intake on your fitness tracker app, for example with Fitbit it is handy to see your calorie intake compared to your calorie burn to see whether you are on track with your goals. However, sharing the other way round can be deceptive; when burned calories are included in MFP then the app will skew the calorie and macronutrient goals to suggest
Note: it is advisable NOT to count exercise towards your total calorie balance – there is no point in eating back the calories you have worked hard to burn. For fat loss, stick to your daily calorie and macronutrient goals whether you workout or not.