an app for tracking fitness (and nutrition) – myfitnesspal

I have been studying fitness and nutrition and I have found a tool that is very useful for me to track my diet and nutrition – it is called myfitnesspal.

With myfitnesspal you enter everything that you eat and it will add up your daily nutrition intake including calories, fat, protein and other parameters.

myfitnesspal is described as a weight loss tool but it can do much more to reveal nutritional deficiencies and over indulgences.  myfitnesspal is free and includes a web site and apps for iPhone and Android.  All devices sync to keep your info up to date.  It is designed to track everything that you eat and all your cardio exercise.

myfitnesspal centers on calories and measures calories in and calories out.  When you set it up, you share your age, height, weight and fitness goals.  myfitnesspal then gives you a daily calorie goal and allows you to track everything that you eat and all your cardiovascular exercise.  You can optionally enter your daily weight to track that also.

Weight and weight loss are on most people’s minds.  The simple theory is eat less calories than you burn and you’ll lose weight.  The simple theory says a pound of fat is 3500 calories and eating less than 3500 calories or exercising more than 3500 calories will reduce your weight 1 pound.

my fitnesspal tracks more than calories – fat (saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, trans), cholesterol, sodium, potassium, total carbs, dietary fiber, sugars, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.

Health, nutrition and fitness is not so simple. Besides the quantity of calories that you eat, what you eat enters the equation – calories can be carbohydrates, fat and protein.  Carbs can be refined or whole.  Fat can be saturated or unsaturated or trans.  Food can be organic or potentially contain chemicals (pesticides, herbicides. fertilizers, preservatives, growth hormones, antibiotics) or be genetically modified.

Nutrition is more than carbohydrates/fats/proteins and includes vitamins, minerals, fiber, cholesterol and other components.  Nutrition also is affected by when we eat, genetics and health.

So although fitness and health is complex, myfitnesspal can help us get a handle on the basics- nutrition and exercise.

The good about myfitnesspal:

An app available on our cell phones to enter all our food and exercise and get immediate feedback.

Input EVERYTHING  that you eat by searching the database for the item and entering the quantity.  Includes many restaurant foods.  Even input food by scanning the barcode.  The database is extensive.

You can enter your own recipes by entering the ingredients and number of servings (web site only).

Real time and daily reports show your accumulated nutrition values.

Syncs between web and mobile apps.

The web has more reports available and a community message board.

The bad about myfitnesspal:

The nutrition values of many items are incomplete (ie potassium values are 0 or NA).

Nutrition goals are arbitrary.  Your goals may be different.  I noticed my protein goal changes from 60-70 g.

Glitches.  I can’t make the meal function work.  The 7 day graphs shows incorrect values for days -6 and -7.  The graphs show odd x axis ticks (6 days not 7 days which is a week).

Does not track all nutritional values (ie magnesium).

Overall this is a good tool to track nutrition, I recommend it.

I learned some interesting stuff about my diet.  Tracking my diet for a month revealed some nutrition deficiencies right away. With my vegetarian diet I was low (by myfitnesspal standards) in protein, potassium and iron.  For protein and iron I can supplement with protein powder and iron tablets.  For potassium I can add foods high with potassium and use “salt substitute” potassium chloride.

I recommend using myfitnesspal as one tool to help monitor your nutrition, fitness and exercise goals.  Well done myfitnesspal.

More about nutrition-

What foods are good and what foods are bad?  How did we evolve to eat?

Lots of opinions and theories out there.  Some of the theories I’m watching include avoid sugar (sodas), avoid refined foods (wheat, corn, rice), avoid chemicals (pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, packaging chemicals), eat organic, eat low carbohydrate.  Keep moving, exercise.  Exercise your brain.

I am all about holistic health.

Eat well, keep moving, be healthy.

Thanks to Chris and Amy for telling me about this app.

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