My Fitness Pal Changes

When I first starting counting my calories I used a little journal. It was a spiral notebook, pocket sized, and I wrote down everything I ate or drank. It was rudimentary but it worked. I was accountable to myself. Was it entirely accurate? Probably not. It took awhile for me to realize that those were just estimates.

If it was a food that came out of a box, it was easier to track because it was right there on the box. I’d count out a serving of Wheat Thins and write down the calories. If it didn’t come out of the freezer or a box, I used the internet to look up calories and write them down. I slowly learned that not all calories were equal. Sure an apple is “around 80 calories” but that’s based on weight. If it was a huge apple, I was probably eating more like 120 calories. It was all a learning process.

I’ll be honest–I wasn’t really technological. I resisted getting a cellphone for a long time. Eventually I got a cheapo flip-phone. Then after Michael and I had been dating for about a year or so, he got me an iPhone for Christmas. Score! Fell in love with my phone. And the apps! Who else here is addicted to Words With Friends? {raises hand}

I started using My Fitness Pal to track my calories. I love it. It’s with me at all times, I always know how many calories I’ve eaten for the day, how many calories are left. I track my exercise in the app. I can look up chain restaurants to figure out what to order when we go out. Even with the app it’s often a guessing game. I can get close to what I think the calories are, but I’m sure I’m off sometimes. I’m okay with that. Getting close is better than not trying at all.

Recently MyFitnessPal has made some changes and upgrades that I wanted to share. I’m loving the upgrade! First, there’s a new feature where I can scan a barcode. It’s such a cool feature and my first thought was, “Why haven’t they done this before??” The barcode scanner is touchy. You can see the little “barcode” in the upper right hand corner, under the “Recipes” button:

You click on the barcode scanner and this pops up:

Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it and it doesn’t have everything in there. It’s a work in progress, and you can enter your own products into the app if the barcode is not in there. I scanned a can of tomatoes for the example. Here is what the barcode came up with:

See? Pretty simple! I like this feature because it makes it easy to log in things I use all the time–like condiments for example. Making a taco salad I can scan the barcode for the can of beans, can of black olives, and the sour cream. Easy!

The other upgrade is showing graphs of the nutrients. The one I find interesting is the breakdown of my Fat, Carbs and Protein intake.

When I first noticed the pie charts I was excited for new stats! I’m a nerd that way. Then I started to wonder, is that the norm? What should my percentages be for a “healthy range”? Especially for fats. Seeing that my Fat % was pretty high I wondered if that was too high. Off to Google to find the answer (who needs doctors, right?):

Question: What should be the overall percentage of fat in my diet? What percentage of this should be good fat and bad fat?

Answer: We should aim to get between 25 percent to 35 percent of our calories from fat. Of that, less than seven percent should come from saturated fat. That would be fats from meat and dairy origin. Less than one percent should come from trans fats, and that would be primarily from partially hydrogenated fats and a little bit from animal fat. And then the rest should really come from mono and poly unsaturated fats. And that would come from liquid vegetable oil.”

Excellent! Within the range!

Here is more data:

  • Fat: 20 – 35% of total calories (average 30%)
  • Protein: 10 – 35% (average 15%)
  • Carbohydrates: 45 – 65% (average 55%)

I like that I’m within the range for all categories. It makes feel even more confident about my food choices. If I want to check the full breakdown for the day, I can look at the list of nutrients.

It tells me what my goal for the day should be and what I actually got from the food I ate. I don’t enter the daily multivitamin I take so my vitamins are probably off. I always go over my daily “Allotment” for sugars. Reason: I eat an insane amount of fruit. I asked a nutritionist about that once and asked if I should restrict my fruit intake because of the sugars and she said no. I’m healthy, I’m fit, sugar from fruit is good for me. If I was eating a bunch of candy bars, that would be a different story.

QUESTION: What’s the hardest part of counting calories for you?


6 Responses

  1. I never tracked calories when I was losing weight a few years ago. I took it up in maintenance hoping to lose 5-15 more pounds. That hasn’t happened however. I use Daily Plate and I like that app really well. The hardest part for me is going out to eat because it’s really hard to track restaurant meals. I try to be flexible and not get overly stressed about this. I don’t eat out too much anyway. The other thing I get a little concerned about is whether my tracking is a little bit obsessive. Especially considering that I can’t even lose 5 pounds!
    Kristin recently posted..Bellingham Bay Half and Portland Marathon forecast

    1. There is definitely a fine line between being overly stressed about tracking and being flexible. I go through phases where I can get a little obsessive with my calories but it’s not as often anymore.

      How many calories are you trying to eat a day? How long have you been trying to lose weight?

  2. I am not a calorie counter, but a weight watcher, but I think the counting is similar. For me the hardest part is to be prepared.

    Every monday I have my weigh in and right after that I check my calendar for the week and think about how many sport will I do this week? How many activity points will I earn this way? Which days am I invited and have to eat just what I get there? Which days am I allowed to splurge?

    And if I do my homework very well for this part, I am really prepared and can enjoy every day of my week.

    Mascha recently posted..Wiegetag

    1. YES! Doing it right means you have to plan ahead A LOT. Plan fitness around busy schedules, plan meals and healthy snacks to have on hand. It takes work and planning but it works.

  3. I think it’s hard when you have the “homemade” meals with a lot of ingredients put together. I know there are recipe builders of putting ingredients together and getting the calories, but I guess it’s taking the time to do it!

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