MyFitnessPal is the go to app for tracking calories and is used by millions of people on a daily basis. As with any tool, the data you get from the app is only as good as the information you provide. There are a few tips and tricks to help get the most out of the app and I want to share them with you today.
If you want to lose a set amount of weight in a set amount of time, double your timeframe. Fat loss is always slower than expected and by not being in such an aggressive deficit, you can still enjoy your life. When you set your goal on MyfitnessPal, only set it to lose 1lb per week MAX. 2 lbs a week for most people is a huge deficit and the app will deduct 7000 Kcals from your maintenance calories. This is unsustainable and an unrealistic target.
Unlink your activity
If you have your smartwatch (Fitbit/Garmin/Apple watch) linked to your MyFitnessPal account, unlink it now. It will add extra calories into your daily target and gives the perception that you can eat more. These devices are wildly inaccurate and usually overestimate calories burned by a long way. I don’t like the message this portrays as we shouldn’t be exercising to earn our food, we should be exercising for loads of health benefits and to look good naked.
Make it a habit
If you are going to track, then don’t half arse it and just track when you are eating well. Either track your meals as you eat them (recommended) or track at the end of the day (this can be inaccurate). Set a reminder on your phone at the end of each day to give you that gentle nudge. The more you use it, the more you can rely on it.
The little things add up
I have clients that come into the gym and tell me they are eating 1200 kcals and not losing any weight. After a quick chat and a look through their food diary, we quickly realise that they are not eating 1200kcals. The small items throughout the day, such as milk in your coffee, cooking oil and your salad dressing can make a massive difference. You have two options. You can either never track these items and accept you end number will always be consistently inaccurate (not a problem), or you can track them to hit a certain number (also not a problem).
Use brands/barcode scanner
A lot of the entries in MyFitnessPal have been generated by the public or are not fully complete. When possible, search for specific brands or use the barcode scanner for the most accurate result. If you are making a homecooked meal that requires a lot of ingredients, you can ‘create a recipe’ or ‘create a meal’ to make future tracking easier. If you rely on entries from other people, you cannot guarantee the number it pops out at the end.
Measure when you can
Weighing out foods can be a ball ache and I’m not a big fan BUT I would recommend everyone should try it, even if it’s for a short period of time. 100 grams of cookies when I’m hungry, is a lot bigger than a 100 grams of cookies when I weigh them out. Strange that. When you are bulk cooking or at home, it’s easy to use the scales or measuring cups. When you are out round a friend’s house, just take a guess.
If you have to take a guess at a portion size, always overestimate. We are inherently bad at making an unbiased judgement when it comes to food. Add 10% to whatever you were thinking. It’s always better to be slightly under and hit your goal earlier, than drag it out for another 3 weeks. Also if you have a few options for the same food, always choose the one with the largest amount of calories. You can pick an avocado with 80 or 300 kcals. Just go big, just in case.
We are creatures of habit and are likely to be eating similar foods on a regular basis. Instead of inputting them fresh every time and taking a lucky dip at that vast selection, you can copy a pre-existing meal. Click the 3 dots the bottom and choose the meal you want to select. This will save you time in the long run and keep you diary accurate.
I hope you have found these tips useful and you can get the most out of tracking your calories to reach your goals. If you are still unsure of how to use MyFitnessPal to lose body fat, gain strength or build muscle, then get in touch today to enquire about personal training. For 1 to 1 training click here and for my online coaching service click here.
The brains, brawn and beauty of Dackattack (basically it’s just me). A personal trainer with a private gym in Norwich, dedicated to giving out simple, actionable advice that will give you outstanding results.