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App Review: MyFitnessPal

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By: Karen Yontz Center Staff

Among fitness apps, MyFitnessPal is a member of the old guard. It seems as though it’s been available since we all got smartphones and there’s a very good reason why—it’s one of the best. Users who want to save money can access the free version, but Under Armour offers a “premium” version for $9.99/month or $49.99/year. This reviewer has only used the free version, which is very good, but there are bonuses to splurging on the paid version as well.

MyFitnessPal gives users a diet tracker, calorie counter and exercise tracker all in one app. Users start by setting their goals: starting weight, goal weight, how many pounds they want to lose per week, and how active they are. Entering this information as honestly as possible will help the app calculate how many calories you can take in daily to meet your goal. Users then log the food they eat each day and any exercise they do as well; the more specific you are, the more accurate and helpful your results will be. The app sets users up for success by offering both an online database of over 5 million foods to choose from (that means you can get REALLY specific--down to, say, the brand of rice or the type of tomato) as well as a feature for storing personal recipes so that you don’t have to type in your favorite casserole recipe ingredient-by-ingredient every time. The app also gives users a barcode scanner to make logging prepared foods a breeze. On the exercise end, users decide how many workouts they want to do each week and for how many minutes. Each day, you will log what type of exercise you do, your intensity level, and for how long you did it. This will all factor in to your calorie count. MyFitnessPal encourages users to maintain streaks and hit goals and offers a community in which to network and a blog for tips and encouragement. You can also sync other devices (i.e. AppleWatch or FitBit) to make your information more complete.

Those who wish to take this tracker to a whole new level can benefit from the premium service. It allows users to customize even more when it comes to their meals and nutrition needs—offering options like customizing calories by meal, adding back calories from exercise as only protein or fat rather than carbs, or incorporating special dietary plans like DASH or intermittent fasting. One of the most interesting features of Premium is the “Food Analysis” feature which takes the time to explain why you should be eating certain things (i.e. healthy fat) and which foods have the most of it; kind of like have a dietitian at your fingertips.

The main thing to remember about MyFitnessPal is that you will only get out of it what you put in. Users need to be diligent about logging their information—you can set reminders for yourself if you haven’t logged in for a while—but it’s up to you to take the time and do it. For those who are really committed to working on their weight/fitness/nutrition, this app will help you succeed. But for sure, lazybones need not apply.

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