How To Use MyFitnessPal Correctly + Other Tracking Tips

by TaylorR

Tracking, it’s one of those things we all know we should do but that we don’t. I can tell clients till I am blue in the face to track every bite they eat, that this is the most important step to begin the journey to accomplish their goals.

I can tell them that, but only a handful will listen.

Why? Because tracking is just 1 more thing to have to do.

It sounds hard, it sounds annoying, and it sounds too honest. Thinking you eat correctly, or  thinking that your workouts are hard enough is one thing, but seeing the truth in front of your eyes is something else. It’s raw.

But tracking is important to help you stay accountable, motivated, and moving in a direction to improve.

But how do you track?

In the video below, I am sharing some tips on using the popular MyFitnessPal. It’s by far the easiest app I’ve found, and it’s what I recommend to clients online and off for food tracking.

But it has some cons which are discussed below.

Tracking Rules And Tips

The Magic Weight Loss Formula

When you set up your MyFitnessPal, it will have you enter your current stats (weight, age, etc) and your goal. From there it will help you set up a program based on those numbers and goals as far as how many calories you need to eat per day, how much exercise you should get, etc.

goals

The general idea is this… to burn 2 pounds of fat each week (which is healthy weight loss), you need to cut about 1000 calories/day. At the end of a week that is 7,000 calories which is 2 pounds of fat (1 pound of fat = 3500 calories).

Make sense?

Now here’s where it gets tricky.

–> Sure, you can cut 1000 calories from your daily diet to make that happen, but that’s pretty significant and hard to do! You’ll be miserable after the first day.

–> Sure, you can cut 1000 calories from your daily diet through exercise, but again that’s pretty difficult and extremely intense on the body to do every single day.

I don’t approve of either method. What I do approve of is TRACKING so that you’re able to burn around 500 calories with a workout, and cut back on your diet by roughly 500 calories per day.

Both of those are extremely doable. It’s about 45-60 minutes of exercise (or less depending on your program) and cutting back 75-100 calories per meal! But it takes tracking to make it easy.

Tips On Using An App For Nutrition Tracking

myfitpal-diary

  • Be as specific as possible. The good thing about most nutritional apps that that they are loaded with specific brands and options. Specify your food for accurate results.
  • Pay attention to serving sizes. Track how much of something you eat. Just marking your food isn’t going to help. Are you eating 2 servings of granola? Half?
  • Don’t just look at calories, but your macronutrient ratios (carbs/fats/proteins) to ensure you’re getting a balanced diet.
  • Follow it’s advice. If you’re suppose to take in 1300 calories per day, but only get to 800, don’t mark that off as success. Eat one more nutrient dense meal to get as close as possible (within 200 calories). Less is not always more when it comes to your body.

Right after I finished the diary above, I went and made a protein shake to bring my calories up. In the shake I included: peanut butter, 1/3 of a banana, almond milk, coffee beans (just 3) and of course protein.  Calories achieved!

Don’t Eat For Your Exercise

What I don’t like about MyFitnessPal is this… if you exercise and burn 400 calories, it adds this to your day. That’s what happened above. My calories were increased by 410 because that’s how many calories it said I burnt during exercise.

fitpal-exercise

Why do you exercise? Of course to get stronger, but when you’re trying to lose weight it’s to burn calories! Right?

So then why would you eat all the calories you just worked off? You shouldn’t!

Like I mentioned above, your overall goal should be to burn 500 calories with exercise. So I shouldn’t increase my caloric intake at all since I only burned 410. Get it?

However, on Saturday when I ran my 12K race, I burned around 700 calories, so if I was trying to lose weight, I should take in an extra 200 calories post run. That’s it.

Does that make sense? 

I get this question ALL the time and really wanted to cover it with you.

Tracking Workouts

I briefly mentioned tracking your workouts in the video so let’s cover that quickly.

I love tracking, more importantly, I love going back and seeing improvement in my performances when it comes to workouts.

screenshot_1199

This is from Fit Women’s Weekly… Each week a new workout and tracking sheet!

Runs, weight lifting, circuits… all of them get logged. That’s how I knew I was just 15 miles off my mile goal for 2013. It’s also how I know my many pull-ups I used to be able to do in one set (15) compared to what I am able to do now (8). So I have some work I gotta do!

Track your workouts, whether you’re using printed sheets like above, Excel, paper and pen, or an app… do it!

And have fun with it.

It only takes 5 minutes top to do, so why not try it out and see what it can do!

Do you track now? How?

*I have no ties to MyFitnessPal, I just think it is a great program that helps a lot!

 

  • Le Ann Sharpe

    Thank you for your help on using the app! What are you thoughts on the macro nutrient ratios they use? I’d like to lose some fat, and add muscle….but I also run. I feel like the guided set up is a little too much carb dependent.

  • http://treatswithatwist.com Melissa @ treatswithatwist

    Love these reminders. I’m a tracker to help me get back on track ;) I don’t like that my fitness pal adds back in the calories burned either. Need to push those away. I think telling people to track to get started is so important. But also telling them to be a mindful tracker, paying attention so they can do it without the program after a few weeks and move on with their lives is important.
    Thanks for the reminders!

    • http://www.fitwomensweekly.com TaylorR

      Thanks Melissa! If it helps you to stay mindful then you’re right, it’s so worth it!

  • http://purelytwins.com Purelytwins

    we used to track our macros using fitness pal, it helped us learn more about our bodies and what our bodies like. but we no longer use them. we’ve never used them to track our workouts, we don’t feel it’s worth it.

    • http://www.fitwomensweekly.com TaylorR

      Yea, I am better using a workout tracking book instead of something like this too.

  • http://www.cookingfortwo.us Stefanie

    So I am pretty much in love with this post. I have used the app on and off and honestly end up having better luck not using it. Seeing those fake extra calories is too tempting for me to eat something I shouldn’t. Lately, I have tried the old fashion pen and paper in a small moleskin that easily fits in my purse. I don’t track calories but what I eat and at what time. It made it painfully obvious that when I am not prepared and stressed I turn to really unhealthy food. Also how important and healthy timely breakfast is for my success. Another thing I like about pen and paper is I can hand write inspiring quotes on each page. That way when I know things are going to be stressful I have a quote that is meaningful to me.

    • http://www.fitwomensweekly.com TaylorR

      I love pen and paper too! Great idea to write quotes down!

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