My Fitness Pal – Toxic or Top Trick?

I’ve been using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone for several years now and lately I’ve seen and heard it being mentioned on many a blog or vlog with mixed opinions. This morning I want to share my thoughts and feelings towards the number one free health and fitness app…

…Let’s start with the basics. My Fitness Pal is advertised as ‘Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker’ on the App Store and as I write this it is unsurprisingly sitting pretty at the top of the free health and fitness app chart.

When I first started to use the app several years ago now, it was all about the calorie tracking and weight loss at the time as back then I didn’t have the passion for health and fitness that I do now. I didn’t understand that my body needed a certain number of calories a day to function, that by cutting my intake drastically I would start to store more fat that I would burn and I certainly hadn’t managed to get my head around the fact that in order to burn calories I needed to move my butt. 

Life revolved around calories and yes back then I would say that My Fitness Pal was a little bit toxic, I was obsessed with keeping my calories low and I would often fill up on the wrong things such as energy drinks and snacks.

In order to use MFP safely, sensibly and most importantly successfully you need to get your head around a few things first;

Your BMR | This is essentially the number of calories that your body needs to maintain it’s current state based upon your height, weight, age and activity level. If you’re looking to lose weight this should be your starting point. If you’ve been eating less than this for a long period of time, slowly increase your intake to this level, get your body used to functioning correctly again before you try to lose weight.

Your Goals | Be sensible with this, slow and steady weight loss is not only better for you, it is also more sustainable. So when setting your target weight & daily calorie goals think about where you want to be long term, start by just knocking a small number of calories off of your BMR and monitor how this affects your weight and aim for small changes in your weight. However, remember weight isn’t everything so make sure you take progress pictures, measurements and track your body fat percentage too as (and you’ve heard this before and you will hear it again) muscle weighs more than fat. Fact. 

Your Macros | This split will depend on your goals and your body. I had mine calculated for me by a nutritionist and it was money well spent as it gave me a much better understanding of them. Never cut out a whole macro group, each one has a different function and benefit to your body. Protein will help aid muscle repair, starchy carbs will help fuel your body and fats believe it or not help you to lose fat. Play around with them for a few weeks and see what works for you.

Your Exercise | This is one of the downsides to MFP as it can make you believe that you are burning more than you are. For instance according to the MFP database a Les Mills Grit class should burn about 277 calories, however, I have monitored my burn using a heart rate monitor and tend to burn on average 240 calories per class. Now I know it’s all subjective, but I don’t think I could work any harder in these classes and in the grand scheme of a week a miss calculation of around 120 calories may not have a huge effect. It’s just something to bear in mind.

Your Calories | You can be eating the right calories and doing the right type of exercise, but if you’re eating all of the wrong food groups then you will notice little or no progress is being made at all. Clear out your cupboards ditching the so called ‘sugar free’ and ‘low calorie’ products that are filled with synthetics and fill them with one ingredient ones. Don’t for a second think that your lunch time walk means you can a have a biscuit, it just doesn’t work like that.

Now I’ve got my head around these areas, I get so much out of using MFP and I can happily have a day off at the weekend if I fancy one. I’m not obsessed, I’m happy and I feel as though the app helps me to learn more about my body, what it needs and wants in order for me to remain that way.

MFP, like anything, can be misused but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s toxic and with a little knowledge you can start to get a lot from it. With the addition of tie-ins to other gadgets and apps such as Fitbit & Map My Run increasing accuracy I honestly feel that My Fitness Pal is emerging as a top trick.

Are you a MFP lover ot hater?

Let me know below and I’ll catch up with you again soon, until then though x

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