[REVIEW] MyFitnessPal App

myfitnesspalThis is Part Two of an ongoing series reviewing various fitness and nutrition phone applications. Last month I reviewed the Livestrong MyPlate app and this month I decided to try out MyFitnessPal, a free application offered by MyFitnessPal, Inc., a private company founded in 2005 based out of San Francisco, CA. Check out this recent article about a new MyFitnessPal company merger. Also, if interested, take a peek at the list of perks for all MyFitnessPal employees. I particularly like the monthly be healthy stipend, healthy snacks, weekly onsite yoga classes, and daily catered lunches. Amazing!

Back to the actual phone app. I use MyFitnessPal primarily on my cell phone and every once in a while on my lap top. The app was recently upgraded with new features (e.g., auto-listing commonly paired foods) and bug fixes.Without further ado, here is a rundown of MyFitnessPal.

Bar code scan: Instead of manually entering nutritional information, this app gives you the option of scanning the bar code of foods. The bar code automatically uploads nutritional information. I’ve noticed that the bar codes of bulk items purchased at large food warehouse stores or specialty international foods stores tend to not work and I need to manually enter basic nutritional information (i.e., carbs, fat, protein, and calories).

PC and Phone Access: You can download the FREE MyFitnessPal app and log-in online with the same username and password to upload various information about food intake and exercise. All entered on either device information automatically syncs.

Track water intake: This is pretty handy and helpful to keep you on track with daily water intake. The unit of measure for water intake tracking is cups (or 8 ounces). I prefer to use the Waterlogged app to track my daily water intake because it provides a lot more  customization and tracking features.

photoSummary and analysis charts: The phone application provides a simple pie chart that breaks your daily nutrient intake into carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It also provides a more detailed version of daily nutrient intake into various nutrient categories (see photo). The web version has additional summary reports that show your body measurements, nutrition intake, and fitness numbers (i.e., calories burned, duration of exercise).

Sync with other Exercise Trackers: MyFitnessPal allows you to sync your workouts from Endomondo, Fitbit, C25K-5K Trainer, MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, and many other phone applications. This is helpful because it automatically uploads your specific exercise and burned calories.

Tracking Measurements: You can track body measurements under the “check-in” tab on the MyFitnessPal web version. If it’s not already listed, you can create your own category. A few I added were blood pressure, body fat percentage, and resting heart rate. You can edit entries and look at multiple entries over a span of time.

Other notable features include:

  • Food/diet/fitness blog (you can set it to self, friends, MyFitness pals, everyone). You can even customize the colors and name of your blog.
  • Comprehensive exercise library that automatically calculates burned calories based on body measurements
  • Customize your exercises to add to the exercise library. I added a few Insanity and yoga DVD workouts. Keep in mind that calories burned are dependent on individual body type.
  • There’s a little notepad feature that allows you to write any exercise and nutrition notes. For example, I wrote down my any supplements in this section so I could see what my nutrition intake looked like without supplements.
  • Message boards and direct messaging for the MyFitnessPal online community.

The only thing I think this app is missing is…

Time of day: There is no time of day entry option when you eat or exercise. I think this would be a very interesting factor to analyze in a custom report and would be very insightful for a personal trainer. For example, some of us may eat our daily recommended caloric intake, but go long periods of time without eating and cramming in a super high calorie meal at the end of the day.

One last tip for this and every food tracking app: Owning a food scale would make the data entered in this application a lot more accurate. Admittedly, I’ve been guessing a lot of my food portions especially when food measurements are listed in terms of weight (ounces).

As a reminder, I do not officially endorse any nutrition or fitness applications. My goal is to share some of the pros and cons of these applications to help others determine what may best suit their needs. Also, I want to figure out which ones I may recommend to future personal training clients to help them achieve their fitness and nutrition goals.

I’m not sure which app I will review next. I’m definitely open to suggestions!


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