MyFitnessPal App Review: The Best Fitness & Nutrition App? – SI Showcase
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Sometimes, trying to maintain a diet or exercise routine on your own isn’t enough to keep you motivated and on track. That’s where calorie counters like MyFitnessPal are helpful, which this reviewer has personally used for several years to meal prep and lose weight. This fitness and nutrition app, which is free but comes with an optional premium subscription, has millions of users worldwide and is touted as one of the best fitness and nutrition apps out there. MyFitnessPal can help you set calorie deficit goals based on your current weight, log your food intake, plan meal prep and track your workouts. It can also help you maintain or increase your activity level or water intake.
Yet as calorie trackers grow in popularity, there are dozens of similar apps to choose from. So, what makes MyFitnessPal supreme, and is it really the best fitness and nutrition app on the market? Our MyFitnessPal app review will go over exactly how the app works, its features, its pros and cons and how it stacks up against the competition. Keep reading for our in-depth MyFitnessPal review and for our bottom line about whether or not this app is truly worth it.
This content is meant to be informative, but should not be taken as medical advice. It is not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention or treatment of health problems. Always speak with your doctor before starting any new supplement or exercise regimen.
What Is MyFitnessPal?
MyFitnessPal is a fitness and nutrition app available for both iOS and Android. It was released by popular fitness brand Under Armour in 2005 and now has millions of users worldwide. This app serves as a diet and exercise tracker that helps you set weight gain or weight loss goals, count calories, keep a food diary and see the nutritional information behind what you eat. It also tracks your macronutrients (carbs, proteins and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
You can set custom macro goals to maintain specific diets, like keto or vegan. Personally, I tend to follow a 40/30/30 diet approach, which is eating 40 percent protein, 30 percent fat and 30 percent carbs, so MyFitnessPal has helped me make sure I’m getting the right amounts of macronutrients to stick to my goals. I also used MyFitnessPal to track my sugar and cholesterol intake, since high cholesterol tends to run in my family. Oftentimes, I was surprised to see how fast I reached my “sugar budget,” which taught me a lot about which foods are surprisingly high in sugar.
In addition to tracking food, you can log your exercises on MyFitnessPal, which can help you maintain fitness goals (like working out more or doing more strength training) and your daily water intake to help you stay more hydrated. I particularly enjoyed MyFitnessPal’s exercise logging feature because it went beyond including only traditional exercises, and gave options for everything from Zumba to kickboxing and even cleaning and gardening (if you’re very serious about tracking all calories burned from physical activity). Plus, you can also log your steps.
MyFitnessPal boasts a large, health-minded community, as well, that includes user forums, success stories, recipe sharing and educational articles. While I don’t personally spend much time in the MyFitnessPal community, it’s a great resource to find tips and tricks to maintaining specific diets and developing healthy eating habits. There’s also an “Introduce Yourself” forum specifically designed for those new to MyFitnessPal who are looking for advice on how to start.
Overall, MyFitnessPal serves as a mini personal trainer in your pocket that helps you set and maintain health goals. It offers both a free version and a paid version, known as MyFitnessPal Premium, that has additional bonus features. While many users access MyFitnessPal from their iPhone or other smartphone, you can also log in from your desktop on myfitnesspal.com to track your stats. This can be a great tool if you want to seriously dig in and analyze your data.
MyFitnessPal’s key features include an extensive food item database, barcode scanner to scan food items for their nutritional value, food diary for food logging and meal planning, custom goal setting, macronutrient and micronutrient targeting, exercise logging, daily water intake tracking and a large MyFitnessPal community with forums, success stories and healthy recipes.
- Tracks food, exercise and water intake
- Can be used for multiple diet or fitness goals
- User-friendly with a clean interface
- Free version has enough features for most people
- Intuitive food logging remembers your favorite items
- Offers different measurement options, like cups and fluid ounces
- Provides healthy meal planning ideas
- Ability to create and log your own recipes
- Database of foods includes millions of popular and smaller-brand items
- App use can be time-consuming
- Premium version can get expensive
- Free app version includes occasional ads
- Weight loss or gain predictions may be inaccurate
- Users’ calorie requirements may be underestimated
- Some food items are user-generated and not accurate
- Some users report glitchy barcode scanner
Who MyFitnessPal Is Best For…
MyFitnessPal is best for anyone with health or fitness goals that require tracking. This can include, but isn’t limited to: weight loss or weight gain, increasing water intake, exercising more, calorie counting, achieving certain macros, following a specific diet, lowering sugar or cholesterol intake, meal planning and even identifying and changing certain eating habits.
While MyFitnessPal and other calorie trackers may seem like apps for serious dieters and fitness gurus, this app in particular is extremely user-friendly and great for beginners or those loosely tracking calories. At the end of the day, MyFitnessPal can help you learn more about your food intake and workout routines, which can be useful for changing habits or lifestyle.
How Does MyFitnessPal Work?
MyFitnessPal operates on a fairly straightforward process. When you open the MyFitnessPal app, you can access your dashboard where you can:
- Search for a food and its food analysis (including foods from meal delivery services)
- Log your food, exercise and water intake in your “diary”
- Scroll a newsfeed with health articles and recipes
- Plan meals, workouts, etc. from the plans section
Additional sections include goal-setting, progress reports, reminders, and, as of recently, a platform for intermittent fasting. (Intermittent fasting, however, is only available with a premium account.) MyFitnessPal allows users to plug in their current weight, target weight and other body measurements to set goals and create weight loss or gain timelines.
Arguably the most used feature of MyFitnessPal is its diary section, where you can add foods that you eat throughout the day. There are sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, which can be helpful to see where most of your calories and nutrients come from. Personally, I spent many years not knowing that MyFitnessPal offers the ability to change your meal names and add up to two additional meals. As someone who eats four to five smaller meals throughout the day instead of the traditional three, I found this frustrating until I learned that MyFitnessPal does actually offer the ability to customize your meal schedule.
Thanks to intuitive learning, the app has a quick add feature where it learns foods you regularly eat and suggests logging them in your meals. Logging your own foods is easy—you can search through millions of food items and log your serving size as needed. This feature is also useful to help you learn about how portion sizes affect calories or macros. One of our favorite features in MyFitnessPal’s diary section is that it adjusts your calorie budget when you log exercises, so you can see when you may need more protein or carbs after a workout.
MyFitnessPal Cost: Free vs Premium
MyFitnessPal comes with two options for your account: free or premium. The free version of the app will net you all of the basic features you’ll need for meal planning, keeping a food diary and calorie tracking, while MyFitnessPal Premium gives additional bonus features well-suited for those seriously tracking their diets and workouts. MyFitnessPal Premium costs $19.99 per month or $79.99 per year, which can be a hefty price tag to pay if you don’t need the elevated features.
With a MyFitnessPal Premium subscription, you’ll get a handful of high-end tools like barcode scanning—which lets you scan food items for easy food logging and analysis—and a meal scanner that actually lets you scan your meal to estimate macros, nutrition and calories. There is some debate, however, over whether the meal scanner is accurate, and some users complain that the barcode scanner is buggy and glitchy.
Other features a premium account will net you are the ability to:
- Set macronutrient goals by gram or percentage
- Set different goals each day
- Set macros and calorie goals by meal (rather than by day)
- Record food timestamps that show how the timing of your meals affect your energy and workouts
- Access priority customer support
- Export your data
Going premium will also mean your app experience will be ad-free, but this writer has a free account and sees upwards of just one or two ads a day, so the ads don’t distract or take away from using MyFitnessPal. Still, if a premium plan does interest you, keep an eye out for deals because MyFitnessPal occasionally offers discounted plans.
Keep in mind that neither the free nor premium version will lend itself heavily to fitness. While exercise tracking is a major part of the MyFitnessPal program, this isn’t a fitness app with live or on-demand guided workouts like the Peloton app, although the MyFitnessPal blog does include several articles on various cardio and strength exercises.
MyFitnessPal vs Noom
Comparing Noom and MyFitnessPal is like comparing apples and oranges. While both lean heavily into calorie counting and food tracking, their approaches are vastly different. Noom is designed around the psychology behind dieting and learning about eating behaviors, like emotional eating or stress triggers, while MyFitnessPal is more data-driven. With Noom, you can expect to take a rather extensive quiz that gauges your eating patterns, lifestyle and what you want to achieve by using the app. Not only does Noom help you stay within a calorie budget, but it also teaches you which foods have a low-calorie, medium-calorie and high-calorie density. It gives you a budget within each density food group, and your goal is to stick within that budget.
Still, Noom’s calorie density approach isn’t always accurate. For example, almond butter falls into Noom’s high-calorie density food group, which only accounts for a small portion of your daily recommended food intake. However, almond butter has a variety of health benefits that the app’s program overlooks. Noom also requires a much more serious time commitment than MyFitnessPal, since learning and food behavior education is such an integral part of the app. You can easily expect to spend up to a half hour in the app each day if you use Noom correctly.
Then, there’s the price comparison. Most people can find all of the features they need for successful diet and fitness tracking in MyFitnessPal’s free version, while Noom only allows new users a free 14-day trial before requiring a purchase for a paid plan. Plus, Noom doesn’t run cheap. A Noom subscription costs $59 per month or $129 for a three-month subscription. That’s nearly $30 more per month than MyFitnessPal Premium, which costs $19.99 per month. At the end of the day, you may find Noom worth it if you really want to dig into the behavioral science of your eating habits; otherwise, MyFitnessPal is the stronger calorie counter and food diary.
Related: Noom Diet Review: Is Noom The Right Weight Loss App for You?
MyFitnessPal vs WeightWatchers
WeightWatchers (WW) has been around for decades, and this popular weight loss program operates on a much different system than MyFitnessPal. Rather than simply tracking your food intake and calories, WeightWatchers uses a points system that assigns each type of food points. Users receive a daily points budget that they can divide amongst food as they see fit, meaning no foods are off limits. (If you want to eat junk food all day, you technically can if you don’t go over your points). WeightWatchers has a number of zero point foods, like chicken breast and eggs. You can eat zero point foods as much as you want without them counting against your budget.
While MyFitnessPal has a strong community with success stories and forums, WeightWatchers takes the support level much higher. The program offers 24/7 support that includes both expert coaches and other community members. It also has an exclusive social network available in the app and coach-led workshops that are online and in-person. Unlike MyFitnessPal, the WW program requires regular weigh-ins, which some users may not like.
WeightWatchers costs $43 per month or $23 per month for a six-month plan, although it has many promotions. Overall, if you’re looking for a health-conscious community focused on supporting one another, then WeightWatchers may be right for you. If you’re self-motivated or like to work solo, then MyFitnessPal is probably best.
Related: WeightWatchers (WW) Review 2022: Does It Work?
MyFitnessPal vs Fitbit
Out of all its competitors, Fitbit is probably the most similar to MyFitnessPal. Luckily, you don’t need a Fitbit smartwatch to use the Fitbit app, and like MyFitnessPal, it’s free with an optional premium version that costs $9.99 per month. Fitbit serves as a calorie counter, food tracker and exercise diary that lets you monitor what you eat and set weight loss goals. Like MyFitnessPal, you can also log your daily water intake, and it has a similar barcode scanner for easy food tracking. The premium version of Fitbit will lend you additional health insights and features, like wellness reports, advanced sleep tracking and meditation, making this app better-suited for overall health at nearly half the cost of MyFitnessPal Premium, which doesn’t track sleep.
Still, if you don’t need all of the fancy features that a Fitbit Premium account will get you and you want to focus solely on calorie counting, meal prepping and logging food, MyFitnessPal has better functionality and a stronger food database. Similarly, users of both apps complain that the barcode scanner is glitchy, so this may be a problem that these apps will eventually solve in the near future as smartphone technology continues to advance.
Getting Started with MyFitnessPal: Tips for Success
Being successful with MyFitnessPal requires time, commitment and focus. Here’s how to achieve your goals and develop healthy diet, fitness and hydration habits for life.
- Commit to using the app to log food, exercise and water every day.
- Set daily reminders to encourage yourself to track your habits.
- Be honest, and log your food intake accurately, including all oils and sugars.
- Select foods in the database verified by MyFitnessPal for higher accuracy.
- Don’t underestimate your calorie needs and restrict yourself too much.
- Spend time in the forum to learn more about healthy lifestyles.
- Don’t skimp on trying MyFitnessPal recipes or meal planning.
- Use and integrate wearable technology if you have it.
- Set realistic goals for yourself that are possible to achieve.
- Don’t expect results instantly, as results take time.
- Keep an eye on your progress and what’s working/not working.
- Boost accountability by using MyFitnessPal with a friend or family member.
Which apps can MyFitnessPal connect to?
MyFitnessPal can be connected to numerous apps found in app stores, including MapMyRide and MapMyRun, Wahoo Balance Scale, Qardio Scale, FitStar, Google Fit and Polar, among others. MyFitnessPal can also be synced to fitness trackers like Apple Watch and Fitbit. Keep in mind, however, that MyFitnessPal can’t connect to other calorie trackers like Noom or MyPlate, since these companies are competitors.
What is the best way to use MyFitnessPal?
The best way to use MyFitnessPal is to seriously commit and use the app on a daily basis. Some ways to track more effectively are to track ahead of time, then adjust your food intake as needed; set reminders to log your food, exercise and water intake; and keep an eye on your nutrition or weight loss/weight gain progress. Most importantly, be honest in your food and exercise logging so that your caloric intake and macros remain accurate.
Should you input all the calories you eat on MyFitnessPal?
You should input all the calories you eat on MyFitnessPal if you’re using the app for counting calories or tracking food intake. This will help make sure you stay within your daily calorie goal and that your macros, nutrients and diet plans are accurate.
How long does it take to lose weight with MyFitnessPal?
How long it takes to lose weight with MyFitnessPal (or any diet or weight loss program) depends on several factors, including your metabolism, your activity levels, your caloric intake and any pre-existing conditions. As a very general guideline, an average woman should eat less than 1,500 calories per day to lose one pound per week, while an average man should eat less than 2,000 calories per day. Always talk with your doctor to gauge the safest way to reach a healthy weight.
How accurate is MyFitnessPal?
Studies show that MyFitnessPal is highly accurate for tracking total energy intake (or calories), macronutrients, sugar and fiber, but may not be so accurate for tracking cholesterol and sodium. Keep in mind that some database food items are user-generated, so be sure to read the nutrition labels for your foods before logging your meals; that way, you can make sure your inputted nutrition data is accurate.
How do you reset MyFitnessPal?
You can reset the MyFitnessPal app by going to the settings, then updating your diet/fitness profile. From there, you can set a new starting weight and goal by clicking the green update profile button. In case this option doesn’t work, you can always create a new account.
How do you log exercise on MyFitnessPal?
To log exercise on MyFitnessPal, head to your diary and select “Exercise.” From there, you can choose either cardiovascular or strength training and search for your exercise. You can also modify each exercise by adding how many minutes you worked out and the amount of calories you burned. (Don’t worry if you don’t know your calories burned because MyFitnessPal creates an estimate.)
Final Thoughts: Is MyFitnessPal Worth It?
At the end of the day, MyFitnessPal is one of the best fitness and nutrition apps out there. Yet whether or not it’s the best will depend on your personal experience, including your commitment level and results. Our bottom line is that MyFitnessPal is definitely worth it, but that the free version should work well for most people. We love this app for its easy-to-use interface, intuitive food logging, extensive food database and larger MyFitnessPal community. Whether your goal is to gain weight, reduce your calorie intake or simply develop new eating habits, MyFitnessPal is a great tool to have on hand, and can help you keep up with your progress.
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