MyFitnessPal Review: Is it Good for Losing Weight?

a woman and her trainer workout with battle ropes

Written by Megan Ayala. Last Updated: July 21, 2021

Weight loss is a struggle that many people can relate to. Just about everyone can admit to attempting to shed a few pounds at some point in life, whether that was to be achieved via exercise or changing eating habits.

Today, it seems as if new approaches to weight loss or diet trends are churned out every other week, and this can make it challenging to figure out which one is best for you.

If you want a new and revolutionary way to lose weight that stands out from the rest then MyFitnessPal is all you need.

What is MyFitnessPal?

MyFitnessPal is both a website and mobile app that individuals can use to help them achieve their health and fitness goals. The creators of this product recognize the fact that it isn’t easy to lose weight. That’s why MyFitnessPal provides tools to help you achieve your health and fitness goals.

The creators of MyFitnessPal understand that tracking your diet and calories is critical to weight loss, and this app/website makes it easy for you to monitor your diet in great detail. It provides a free calorie counter to help you easily analyze your daily calorie consumption.

How Does MyFitnessPal Work?

three screenshots of the MyFitnessPal app

Membership to the MyFitnessPal website is free although there’s a premium version of the app with additional features. To sign up, create an account with a username and password. Once you have done that, you will need to answer some questions about your current lifestyle and fitness goals.

Once you answer the questions, MyFitnessPal will develop a customized plan top suit your lifestyle and fitness goals. It creates a plan outlining your nutritional goals and includes the daily allotted calorie counts.

MyFitnessPal also formulates a workout plan that outlines the number of calories you are required to burn to achieve your fitness goals. The app/website then sums up all the results by providing details on your weekly weight loss and a possible date for reaching your goal.

You aren’t limited to only tracking your diet. The app/website also tracks your daily exercise. The “Exercise” section is split into 2 sections: “Cardiovascular” and “Strength Training.” You have the option to add the completed workouts from each day and view the number of calories burned.

The “Exercise” section allows you to search the workouts database to identify the activity you are doing. Tools are also available that help you speed up the process of adding workouts. You also have an option to copy data from a specific date to the current day’s record.

How to Start Using the App

You will be asked to share basic information about yourself when you first sign up for MyFitnessPal. Your height, current weight, target weight, gender, age, and how active you are each day are some of the details you will be asked to provide.

You will also share what your goal is for joining MyFitnessPal. It can range from gaining 1 pound a week to losing 5 pounds a month. You will then be requested to invite your friends via email to sign up to have a motivational community that help you stay on track. However, it is an optional step.

You will receive a chart of your suggested nutrition and fitness goals after signing up. They are shared as the daily net intake of protein, fat, carbs, and calories. Your fitness goals will show the number of calories you need to burn during each exercise session.

To use the app, you will be logging everything you eat and drink each day. You can also log activities manually or by connecting the app to a supported fitness app or tracker. The list of options includes all the top players such as Fitbit, Apple Watch, Misfit, Nokia Health Mate, Polar Flow, Garmin, Strava, etc.

  • Tracking Workouts

You can start tracking your progress after setting your goals. You can do that via the MyFitnessPal website of the iOS or Android app. Regardless of which option you choose, you can manually add exercise and food to the total of each day.

For workouts, you can search the activity and select the option that describes it best. You have the option to get highly specific by searching your average pace per mile for cycling, walking, and running, and by indicating whether any activity was done as part of a social event or competitively.

If you are doing some strength-training workouts, you can even include the number of sets done, the number of repetitions for each set, and the amount of weight involved in each set. MyFitnessPal will then estimate the number of calories that you burned doing it.

  • Tracking Food

Logging your food works similarly to logging your workouts. If you search for any food, even in different languages, you can be sure that the app has something, and in many instances, multiple entries. You can search the massive database containing millions of food items for your specific food. You also have the option to track your daily intake of water and record any food notes.

MyFitnessPal includes quick categories for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and you can even specify the number of servings of each item you had. If you are logging processed snack foods, you will often find the exact brand consumed or a close equivalent.

When logging the foods that you eat, it is possible to adjust your portion size to a fine degree. For instance, if you only consumed half a banana, it is simple enough to record that. It is also possible to adjust the serving size, so that half a large apple does not count the same as half a small apple.

MyFitnessPal even offers options for entering your own recipes. If you want the most accurate representation of the recipe you have made, enter all the ingredients and the number of portions made, and leave it up to the app to do the rest. You can either keep your recipes private or add them to the public database.

You can even import recipes via URL for quick nutritional tracking based on the list of ingredients and the portion size. The app remembers what you have eaten after tracking it, thus making it easy to repeatedly log the same foods.

As you keep tracking your food, recipes, and workouts, MyFitnessPal will total your carbs, calories, sugar, protein, fat, and sodium intake and keep you updated on the number of calories that you still have available. Calories burned through workouts are considered too and affect your daily limits.

Is MyFitnessPal a Good Way to Lose Weight?

the app on the iPhone and Apple Watch

Calorie tracking is important if you want to lose weight since it will be very challenging to lose weight if you are not calorie deficient. MyFitnessPal is a reputable app that comes with a comprehensive system for counting calories backed by a massive food database that can be used to track your daily food and calorie intake.

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If you dutifully log your daily intake of food such as your breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, water, workouts, and other details, then MyFitnessPal will keep full details your calories that you can use to lose weight. At the end of the day, weight loss mainly depends on your calories deficit and the app can help with that.

If your net calories as determined by MyFitnessPal are lower than what your body needs to maintain your weight, the body will start to consume the stored calories, which are essentially fat. So, if you can manage to maintain that calorie deficit each day, you will start seeing results and MyFitnessPal can help with this.

The MyFitnessPal Food Calculator: How Does It Calculate?

The MyFitnessPal food calculator is used to calculate Net Calories so that you can know how many more you need to either gain or lose to reach your desired goal. The daily calorie goal is defined as follows:

  • Calories Consumed – Calories Burned = Net Calories

Simply put, if you work out, you can consume more for that day. For instance, if you have a Net Calorie goal of 2,000 calories you can meet that goal by eating 2,700 calories of food and then working out to burn 700 calories.

You can think of Net Calories like your daily budget of calories that you can spend. You then spend them by eating and earn more to consume by working out. It is generally not advisable for women to consume less than 1,200 calories daily or men fewer than 1,500 calories a day.

The calorie goals calculated by MyFitnessPal are based on statistical averages, but millions of users have demonstrated that the goals are sufficiently accurate to provide positive results for just about anybody.

How Accurate Is the MyFitnessPal Calories Burned Feature?

MyFitnessPal depends on two key features when it comes to calorie tracking:

  • Logged Food
  • Logged Activity
  • Food Logging

When it comes to food logging, the app has millions of food items from throughout the globe. The main issue with the food logger is that it comes with somewhat standard details. For instance, searching for “Yellow Rice” in the database generates a standard number of 150 Calories. In the real world, however, the number of calories in food varies depending on various factors such as the ingredients used, the type of oil used in cooking, etc.

  • Activity Logging

Activity tracking is the second major consideration when it comes to calorie tracking. MyFitnessPal supports a variety of third-party activity trackers that are compatible with it. The app is compatible with Apple Watch, Samsung Health, Nokia Health Mate, Garmin Tracker, Fitbit Tracker, Google Fit, Pacer Pedometer, and many others.

MyFitnessPal uses the data of the number of steps and burned calories from the apps, which means that it is more likely to be accurate if you are using a fitness tracker. If you are using pedometer apps, however, then the data will probably not be as accurate as that collected via a fitness tracker.

Calorie Tracking Accuracy

The accuracy of the app mainly depends on the data fed into it. If you are willing to regulate your diet and only use food items from reputable sources that provide accurate calorie counts and nutritional value, you will be more likely to feed correct data into the app.

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It can also be a good idea to invest in a good activity tracker if you want accurate tracking since it will help MyFitnessPal get accurate data. Once you enter correct data into the app, it will track your daily calorie goal accurately and help you achieve your desired fitness goals.

MyFitnessPal Cost: Free vs. Premium Versions

MyFitnessPal is free to use, but a premium version is also available if you wish to avoid ads and enjoy access to a wider variety of tools to take your tracking a notch higher. The premium versions costs either $9.99 monthly or $49.99 annually.

What Comes with the Free App?

The free version of MyFitnessPal comes with the following:

  • Easy-to-use food diary that lets you track what you eat within just a few simple clicks
  • A searchable food database containing over 300 million items and is still growing
  • Free mobile apps for both Android and iOS that allows you to track even when on the go
  • A personal food database that you can add your own foods and recipes to and access them from anywhere with an Internet connection
  • A personalized diet profile that’s customized to your specific weight loss goals
  • Flexibility since it is compatible with virtually any diet like the Zone, the South Beach Diet, Atkins, and more
  • Support and motivation from others courtesy of the discussion forums where you get to learn from other people, share your personal tips, give and receive encouragement, etc.

What Extras Do You Get with Premium?

A Premium MyFitnessPal subscription adds new options to the app’s features thus increasing its flexibility and customizability. Here are some of the extra features you get with premium that aren’t available on the free version:

  • Ad-free, which means that you are free to focus on meeting goals without being distracted by ads.
  • Food analysis tools that let you see which of the foods that you have logged are best and worst for you.
  • The ability to set macronutrient goals by either percentage or grams.
  • The ability to set macronutrient and calorie goals for any day of the week.
  • Tracking workouts without increasing your nutrient or calorie goals.
  • Exporting your meal level nutrition details, exercise history, and progress history.
  • Priority customer support.
  • A home screen dashboard that allows you to easily keep an eye on nutrient goals as opposed to focusing solely on calories.
  • Setting calorie goals by meals which can make it easier to reach them.
  • Food timestamps that teach you how the timing of your meals affects your workouts, energy, and more (only available on Android and iOS).
  • See a macronutrient breakdown for each meal that you log within the diary.
  • To allow for convenience tracking, you can replace total carbs with Net Carbs (only available for iOS and Android for US and Canada).
  • Gain access to exclusive premium workout routines (only available on iOS and Android for English users).
  • Log and bookmark your favorite recipes to help you achieve fitness goals (only available on iOS and Android for English users).

Summary: Is MyFitnessPal Good or Bad?

Weight loss is a struggle shared by many people across the goal. One thing that most people don’t realize is that counting calories plays a far greater role in weight loss and that’s where MyFitnessPal comes in.

MyFitnessPal is an app and website that provides a free calorie counter to help you track your calorie intake thus making weight loss a possibility that’s much closer to reach. Due to this fact alone, it is a valuable tool for many, especially those looking to lose weight.

Persons with conditions such as diabetes can also find the app useful since it can help them calculate calories and carbohydrates in their meals. Joining and participating in the online forums as well as consulting with others can also help users gain support.

MyFitnessPal is definitely a good tool for those looking to lose weight. It is still a useful tool even for those not looking to lose weight since it can help you make more healthy choices with regards to the food you eat.

It is actually very difficult to find anything negative to say about the app. Here are the top 5 reasons why you should consider trying out MyFitnessPal:

  • The exercise and food tracking features will help you become more mindful of what you eat.
  • It has a massive database of foods from all parts of the globe.
  • It makes dieting more precise with the goal portion.
  • It is free to try which means that you aren’t risking anything.
  • It integrates seamlessly with other fitness tools that you probably already use.

The bottom line is that regardless of what your health and fitness goals might be, MyFitnessPal is an amazing tool available to you at no charge!