January 16, 2017
Whether you are starting a new diet or simply trying to clean up your eating habits, you have most likely heard of the mobile app, MyFitnessPal. While healthy eating may seem like an uphill battle at times, downloading the app and understanding how it works can be an extremely useful tool to help you reach your health and fitness goals.
Looking back at my food diary, I have been tracking my dietary intake (the good, the bad, and the ugly) for over 3 years! From my personal experiences, I have come up with 10 key pieces of advice that I believe will maximize your success with the app, as well as your diet.
1) Pay attention to macronutrients
The three macronutrients, protein, carbs, and fats, are the main components of our diet and are essential for our bodies to function properly. In order to gain muscle mass or lose fat, it is crucial to pay attention to the ratio of macros in your daily diet. THIS RATIO IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE. Unfortunately there is no magic “cookie-cutter” program to follow to achieve your health goals. The truth of it is, some people simply require more or less of any one group than others. There are many macronutrient calculators online to help guide you in the right direction, but it may take a little bit of experimentation on your own to find what break down is best for you.
2) Learn how to use the barcode scanner
The app has added a barcode scanner that has made tracking food as simple as holding your phone above a product’s barcode. You can now scan any item and the app will automatically add the food’s information, calories, macronutrients, micronutrients, and serving sizes, to your diary. Even if you only have one serving or a few ounces of an item, you can measure out how much of the food you are eating, and the app will save the item in your recently added foods. This way, if you want another serving later, you do not have to scan the item again and again to track it. It is also important to note that foods without a barcode, for example fresh fruits and vegetables, can be found simply by typing the food into the search bar and entering the size of the item.
3) There’s a restaurant scanner!
I can’t tell you how many times I have unsuccessfully tried to guesstimate the macros for a subway sandwich or chipotle burrito. The app has recently added a restaurant scanner that has made tracking your food on the go easier than ever. Simply by clicking a button, the app will find restaurants near you and allow you to select foods directly off the menu to add to your diary. The calories obviously may not be exact, but it is a good way to be mindful about what you’re eating.
4) Start small
You do not have to track every single bite of food that you eat for the rest of your life. Start small and use the app to help educate yourself on your daily food consumption and weak points in your diet. Start by challenging yourself and tracking your breakfast for one week. Eating a healthy breakfast, and being knowledgeable about what you’re eating, can set the tone for the rest of the day and promote good decisions to follow.
5) Link MyFitnessPal to other apps
I have MyFitnessPal synced up with my FitBit activity tracker, but there are dozens of other apps it can link up with. This allows my daily activity level to be synced up to my daily calories and I can adjust my food as needed. Extra burpees=extra food ;)
6) Allow yourself untracked meals
Once you get started with it, tracking your meals can become almost second nature. To keep your mental sanity, it is just as important to allow yourself untracked meals or days. Trust me, when it comes to the calories in some cheat meals, ignorance is bliss!
7) Track your weight and take progress pictures
We all know that weight is not the best way to gauge progress in fat loss; however, the app has a very cool feature that allows you to track your weight and take progress pictures at the same time. You can adjust your goals on the app to a specific weight, and how many pounds you would like to lose per week, and it will adjust your daily calories accordingly. It is important to remember that these calorie goals are estimations and may not be appropriate for your activity levels, but they are a good place to start. We all go through fluctuations with weight, don’t sweat it!
8) Don’t give up
If you forget to track for a meal, a day, or a month… who cares? This app is for you, and you alone to become more conscious about your eating habits and daily choices. If you fall off the wagon, it’s no big deal! Just start up where you left off.
9) Take advantage of shortcuts
Do you eat the same thing for breakfast everyday like me? MyFitnessPal remembers your meals that you eat often, conveniently allowing you to add food with a quick swipe.
Celebrate the small victories! Simply downloading the app is a step in the right direction. Tracking food and planning meals can be hard, but stick to it- your body will thank you! If you have any other questions at all about how the app works, feel free to ask me at Momentum or shoot me a message on Facebook! I’d be more than happy to help in any way I can J