iPhone App Review: MyFitnessPal - Manage Your Weight and Beyond Reviewed by Tong Zhang
It isn't uncommon for one to gain 4-5 pounds over the winter especially over the holidays. So after all the festivities have concluded, it's time to lose the extra pounds, and MyFitnessPal can help you do just that, as a start. The iPhone/iPod touch app is really a front end for the service provided on MyFitnessPal's web site, though the mobile version has a lot of content that allows you to dive in directly and start your new food and exercise routines.
The iPhone App
To help you lose weight, MyFitnessPal offers a free calorie counter and diet tracker app for the iPhone OS. The program works on a basic concept: the amount of calories you consume should be equal to or less than the amount of calories you spend. When you begin the daily tracking process, MyFitnessPal walks you through setting up your profile with your current height and goal weight, your active level and more to calculate the number of calories you should take in each day in order to achieve the weight goal. You can also decide how long you wish to take to reach that goal, and the program will take that data and factor into the calculations. The daily calorie number is your baseline, meaning this is the highest amount of calories you should take in daily if you don?t do any exercise. MyFitnessPal can help you track both food and exercise, and will increase the number of calories you can consume as you add the number of calories burned while exercising. As you follow this method one thing becomes clear: this diet doesn?t just guide you to eat more low Cal food but also strongly promotes regular exercise. The more you burn the more you can eat.
Tracking food represents the most work in using the app to help lose weight. Luckily MyFitnessPal has a large food database that includes individual items, popular food in many brands sold in the market, even dishes offered by many chain restaurants as well homemade dishes. Finding each food item from the database might seem like a choir in the beginning, it will become faster and easily as the application remembers everything you record and make the list available for future input. The food database is vase, and you have an easier access to the large database online via MyFitnessPal web site which lists food from many restaurants. The effectiveness of food tracking relies on the totality of your recording. This means you must record everything you put in your body: coffee, orange juice, snacks and of course meals. The program also offers an exercise database which includes both cardio and strength exercises. The exercise database is also vast including many routines for biking, running, walking and more; and the calorie counter for these exercise seem accurate. The only thing that?s puzzling is that the exercise database doesn?t offer any calorie counter for Strength training: it has plenty of routines listed, like sit-ups, pull-ups and more, but it doesn?t tell you how many calories you burn.
The Web Services
Beyond the iPhone app, MyFitnessPal has its core services on the web. Everything you enter on your iPhone will sync up with the web site instantaneously, and if you use the web to enter your data, the next time you launch the iPhone App or refresh it, you will get the new data synced to your iPhone. The web site offers more services than the iPhone App, and these include a forum where you can ask questions and communicate with other users, a social networking service where you can invite friends to diet with you and chat about your progress and challenges, and an easy access to the huge databank of foods. The web site also provides charts for the food tracking, exercise and weight lost/gain, a useful tool if you have used the services for a while. You can also use the web site to ?close out a day of tracking?, a function not included in the iPhone app. Once you close the day, you will get a weight projection on the goal date based on the day?s calorie number (calorie intake/spending compared to your baseline calorie number).
MyFitnessPal and Beyond
Ideally you should track your food and exercise for as long as you can, but most users only use it for a certain period of time to reach their goal weight. If you use the program to create healthy eating and exercise habits then the application and the services can benefit you in the long run regardless if you track the calories or not. For example, the food tracker shows not only the fat, carbs and protein numbers but also the cholesterol, sodium, potassium, calcium, iron and certain vitamin levels. If you track your food for even just a short period of time you will discover what types of nutrition are missing from your diet. For example, many of us don?t get enough potassium in our diet, so we should add some potassium rich food into our diet. If you find yourself eating entirely too much high cholesterol foods, then substitute them with healthier food. MyFitnessPal doesn?t track all important vitamins though, and that is something we?d like to see improved.
-The iPhone App is super easy to use and has plenty content to provide effective aid to your diet and exercise efforts. -Has a very large food database with mostly accurate calorie and nutrition info. Even includes many restaurant dishes and foods from the supermarket. -Promotes healthy eating and living. Tracking calories as well as other nutritional data.
-Only tracks two vitamins (A and C). -No calorie burning number for the strength training.