MYfitnesspal Database, Database, Database…..

9.12-Myfitnesspal-syncIf there is one thing I can point to which has helped me the most get back on the road to health, it has to be Myfitnesspal.  I tried, over a couple of decades, most of the “don’t count the calories” diets.  You know the ones which advertise they are easy but don’t say you have to sign up to getting ill to follow them.  When I started to change my diet and not try and follow someone else’s diets, I had a trainer, The Captain, who made me use Myfitnesspal.  It turned out to be a great suggestion, and one which would become the foundation for the success I have enjoyed to date.  You can also use the extremely useful interface to the new Apple Watch.

Just like real estate which is all about location, location, location, food diaries are all about database and the ability to easily find foods which you have just eaten.  Myfitnesspal has the best database out there.  There was always an issue here in the UK that a lot of these sites were skewed towards the US simply because that’s where they started and there are 6 times more Americans than Brits.  However, Myfitnesspal has been around long enough to have a very well populated UK database as well.  On to the specifics……..

The Platform

Myfitnesspal runs on all platforms.  You can access it through the web, or any phone platform out there with the Myfitnesspal app.  I use my iPhone app the most.  It gives me most of the capability I get on the web, and as it is usually in my pocket, I tend to record meals right after I eat them.  My memory isn’t what it used to be.

The interface is very intuitive, and you can set your own goals on all the measurements which the program provides.  If you are trying to limit carbs, you can set a carb goal by grams or percentage.  That goes for all the other nutrient measurements like, protein, fat, sodium and sugar.  Of course you can set the calories yourself as well, or set a weight loss goal and let Myfitnesspal calculate the weekly calories based on how much you want to lose.

You can basically measure just about anything else about your body as well.  I keep and track my body measurements on Myfitnesspal, and like all the other data it collects, you can look at it both numerically and graphically.

Tracking Food – The Neat Part

Database selection for breakfast
Database selection for breakfast

You can enter foods several ways.  By searching the database and selecting what you ate.  I went to Nobu the other day and put in Shrimp Nigiri Nobu, and sure enough it came up.  The other way is to scan bar codes if you are at home and are cooking for yourself.  99% of the time, Myfitnesspal will pull up the food.  After that it is a simple matter of putting in the amount you ate.  We keep a small electronic kitchen scale handy and tend to weigh all the food we cook.  One of the great things about keeping track of what you put in your mouth though is that you start to know what stuff weighs and can make informed judgements.  That really helps when you are at a restaurant where the meal does not show up in Myfitnesspal.  That’s when I take the parts of the meal and add them that way.  If you select a meal of food which has been certified by the database, you get all of the nutritional values added to your diary.  One word of warning; the database is also populated by users, and sometimes people put foods in which are incomplete, so you need to make sure the data is correct.  Myfitnesspal will warn you when you have picked a food which has been put in by a user, and will also let you know if and how many other people have “confirmed” the user added values.

Ultimately, all the “easy” diets out there tend to be something akin to snake oil in my opinion.  I should know, I have tired most of them.  If you know what you put in your mouth, you are 90% of the way to losing your weight and maintaining it.

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