My Fitness Pal is basically a digital food journal. It allows you to set up specific goals for yourself and it helps you track them. Many people use it for weight loss and tracking calories, but it can provide much more information than just calories; I’ve also seen a lot of people use My Fitness Pal for tracking their macros (aka IIFYM; if it fits your macros). If you don’t have an app friendly phone don’t worry, because you can log everything in on your computer too by visiting MyFitnessPal.com.
To get started with My Fitness Pal, you simply download the FREE app from your app store or go to their website. Follow the instructions and fill out all of your basic information. Once you have all of your information put in, you can start tracking your meals! There are a few different ways to enter your food depending on what kind of device you are using, but if I use my iPad or iPhone I always click the “Food Diary” icon at the bottom (second from the left) and it will bring you to a screen where you log all of your food.
Simply click the “add food” link under the meal that you wish. Personally, I like to plan my meals the night before so I add in all of the food and adjust as needed to meet my personal goals.
Once you click “add food” you can type in the food in the top search box, or you can click the little bar code scan button and it will take a picture of the bar code on your food item. I really like the bar code scanner because it saves a lot of time and helps with accuracy, but occasionally the bar code can’t be scanned or it won’t be found in the database.
Just a little tip here… let’s say you had a turkey sandwich for lunch; don’t just type “turkey sandwich” in the search bar. You will get a result, but the nutrient breakdown won’t be exactly accurate for what you ate. You should enter each item separately; bread, turkey, lettuce, mayo, etc. You will be able to get more accuracy this way. If this is something you eat frequently and you don’t want to have to put in each ingredient separately every time you eat it there are some other options.
When you are inputting food My Fitness Pal will recognize the foods that you frequently put in together, so when you add food, My Fitness Pal will pull up a list of “frequently paired foods” and you can select it from there, OR, you can add the sandwich to your recipes so you only have to add each ingredient once.
To add a recipe, click the “Recipes” tab from the top menu bar.
Click “Create a New Recipe” and you can choose to enter them manually or import it from the internet.
I always manually enter mine, so I click that, then you fill out the title of the recipe, and how many servings the recipe makes. I’m just going to go along with a turkey sandwich for this example. Once you put in that information, click the arrow pointing towards the right at the top right hand corner of the page.
This will bring you to the screen where you add ingredients the same as you would for the rest of your foods (search bar or barcode). I don’t actually have the ingredients for a turkey sandwich with me so I will use the search bar. Remember, each time you input an ingredient to hit the check mark in the upper right corner to confirm it.
Also, you can change the unit of measurement that you want to use to enter your ingredients; just click the measurement where you see “serving size” and select from the drop down menu. (I purchased a food scale to more accurately measure my foods, but that’s up to you).
Once you finished inputting all of the ingredients click the right arrow in the top right hand corner again.
Don’t forget to save your recipe!
Now you can add the turkey sandwich from your recipes. Just click “add food,”
select the “recipes” tab from the top menu, and select your recipe.
Once you select the recipe, click the check mark in the top right hand corner to add it to your food diary.
If you want to delete a food item, swipe towards the left and a delete button will pop up in red. If you want to edit a food item just click the food item you want to edit.
If you get confused on where to find things from your main page, you can click the “More” button from the bottom right menu. It will pull up a list of options for you to choose from.
I like to look at the “Nutrition” section because I’m trying to follow a diet that is more specific than just calories. Play around with it and see what works for you.
This program is free however there are some features that can only be used if you are a premium member. To upgrade to premium, it’s $9.99/month, or $49.99/year. I use the free edition and it works fine for my needs, it just depends on what you are trying to achieve.
Side note: If you want to personalize your goals to something different than what My Fitness Pal has set up for you, you can do that by clicking the “more” button and selecting “Goals.”
To adjust your caloric goals, or macronutrient (carbs, fat, protein) goals, click “Calorie & Macronutrient Goals.”
I know it may seem a little tedious at first to be logging everything you eat to such a detailed extent, but the more you use this program the easier it gets; you become more familiar with how to use it and since a lot of your foods are already logged in it will save you time. Once you get REALLY good at it you will be able to eyeball your portions and already know what you’re getting ;).
What tips do you have for MyFitnessPal?