We’re all familiar with the common calorie counting/food tracking app My Fitness Pal (MFP). I’m sure you’ve used it at least once before to count your calories or track your weight loss progress. I’ve been a user of MFP on and off for probably 5 years or so now. I’ve tracked countless triumphs along with even more failures, and each time feeling a little more guilty than last time resetting my current weight back to my highest (sometimes even higher). No offense at all to those that have successfully used MFP to lose weight. Some people have AMAZING progress and their dedication to their diet and exercise program is impressive. But, today I’m going to write about the problems that I’ve encountered personally with MFP:
1. It Creates and Unnatural Relationship with Food: When using MFP I find myself adhering too strictly to the calorie counting rules. I obsess over each bite and track even 1 potato chip. I find myself panicking over my calorie allowance to the point where I would feel depressed and defeated if I went over my daily allowance by even 20 calories. 20 calories! I also feel completely lost if there’s no way to count how many calories are in the food I’m eating (at restaurants without published nutrition facts). For me I develop disordered eating patterns and become a crazy person!
2. It’s Easy to Manipulate in your Favor: I’m 30 calories over-no problem I can just track the miles I walked in the grocery store as cardio! – No. This is stupid. Also, you can easily choose the listing that has fewer calories to make you feel better.
3. Scale Obsession: MFP mostly tracks your progress through weight when in actuality there are many other indicators of healthy weight loss (waist circumference, inches lost, body fat percentage, how your clothes fit, cholesterol level etc.) The weight you track on the scale doesn’t distinguish between water weight, fat or muscle loss.
4. The Whole Eating your Workout Calories Debate: After much research, it’s pretty obvious that you are indeed supposed to eat back your workout calories otherwise you are eating less than your BMR which is unhealthy. Mentally though that’s easier said than done. When you have to enter your calories after working out you feel like you are just undoing your burned calories.
5. It Doesn’t Distinguish Between Added Sugar and Natural Sugar: I always end up feeling bad because I go way over my allowable sugar grams. BUT sometimes it’s just from sugar in fruit like bananas and apples. I don’t think the natural sugars found in fruit are anywhere near as detrimental to your health and weight loss as added sugar in, say, a cookie.
So there it is, my 5 biggest problems with the My Fitness Pal App. I’m not insulting anyone that has success with weight loss using this app. I think it’s amazing when people are able to find that tool that really works for them, it just isn’t for me. That being said, I do enjoy some features. For example, I love calculating the calories in a recipe through MFP. It’s so easy to use. Also, I like to use it to keep track of my weight over the years because it can create graphs for you and it’s cool to view your weight loss that way. I’m interested to see what people’s opinions are on the popular app though and if anyone else feels the same as I do?