Does My Fitness Pal Really Work?


Does My Fitness Pal really work?My Fitness Pal is one of many weight loss apps and websites to come out in recent years promising to help you keep track of it all. By putting your focus on the progress you’re making, and seeing it broken down in different ways, the thought is you’ll naturally lose weight and stay motivated. But if these sort of weight loss and diet tracking services actually work?

Overview
My Fitness Pal is a free service and allows you to sign up and access all of features without paying any money. You can use it in conjunction with any of the most popular weight loss and fitness programs on the market, and it will keep track of all of your progress in a very clean and efficient manner, showing you just what you need to know in order to stay motivated and keep up with your training and dieting.

The Claim
Many people compare My Fitness Pal to Weight Watchers because both involve counting and tracking the calories that you consume each day. Even though Weight Watchers has moved to a point system, it still based on the calories that you are consuming, it just goes about it in an easier to track way.

My Fitness Pal gives you a more accurate look at what you’re really consuming, because it has detailed information on the most common foods people eat. This makes it easy because you don’t have to be the one trying to do all the calculations, and skinny nutrition labels to see how much fat, carbs, and proteins is in the things you’re eating.

They also claim there are success stories of people that have used their app and site to successfully lose the pounds, but there’s no real way to know if anyone has anyone lost weight by using it. Most likely they have, because caloric-restriction works in the short term. However, the real question is how well this works as a long-term solution for you.

The Hype
Web 2.0 has a bunch of hype with it, because many of the sites don’t really have a sustainable business model, and it’s unknown how long each will stay in business as more more people use their service, but they aren’t able to pay for things like servers and bandwidth. A site like My Fitness Pal which offers a solid service for free, most likely has a tough time converting their user base into money.

The Cost
My Fitness Pal is free to sign up and use. Many people ask how do they make their money, it’s the same way that Facebook makes their money. There is value in having members at your site, especially if they are all targeted towards having the same interest, in this case losing weight.

They can sell perspective advertisers on the fact that their membership base is interested in dieting and weight loss. There are thousands of cross-promotions they can set up with any number of companies in order to make money. Currently they’re using Google AdSense to monetize their site, and they have advertisements placed next to the charts and graphs.

The Commitment
Even though My Fitness Pal tracks everything you eat, you still have to be the one that eat the right things. Tracking can be very de-motivational if you don’t actually have anything good to track. The good news is that the more you do eat well, the more you’ll be motivated to keep the good trend going. However, when you have a slip up you’ll have to look at the evidence again and again as it shows up on your charts and graphs. Sometimes it’s best just to forget about a cheat meal rather than keep being reminded of it again and again.

You also have to be the one that enters in the information into My Fitness Pal or else it won’t do a very good job. This can be hard you never recorded what you’ve eaten before, as it’s a hard habit to pick up. If you forget, you might have to rely on remembering what you ate hours ago or even yesterday. You have to commit to carrying around a little notebook to jot down what you eat and so you can transfer it to My Fitness Pal, or just use your smart phone with one of their apps.

Evaluation
By entering your basic information, including your current weight and height, and birth date My Fitness Pal would give you a target calorie range, how many grams of carbs you should consume, how many grams of protein you should have, and how many grams of fat you should shoot for. The best feature they have is the reports that you can run that will show you a glance how good you’ve done with your nutrition, your workouts, and what progress you made since he started.

It’s a good idea to combine My Fitness Pal with a workout program, so that you are motivated to stay with it, and you can add advanced tracking to your progress. Popular workouts that mesh well with the MFP interface are the Insanity workout, Crossfit and P90X. It also works great with workouts that are more aerobics based like Zumba, and hot yoga. By adding the element of tracking to these exercises, combined with smart eating, it makes it a sort of game and gets you excited to see visual progress not just in the mirror but also on a graph.

Combining Different Programs
A good way to use My Fitness Pal is to combine it with a service like Fitbit or Daily Mile, that way you’re tracking both your fitness and your dieting, so you can see the progress in both spheres of your life and see how one effects the other. They do have a section that allows you to track your fitness goals at My Fitness Pal, but it is not as fun to use as these other two programs, so we recommend using them in conjunction with each other.

A Sound Theory
There’s a theory originating in Japan that says if you just weigh yourself every day you’ll automatically and naturally start to lose weight. The thought is that your mind knows you’ll be having another way in every 24 hours so you start making better eating choices without even knowing it consciously. My Fitness Pal promotes the same kind of thought, the very act of tracking what you eat causes you to eat better foods. This is definitely an intriguing concept, and is worth checking out.

How Does It Compare?
My Fitness Pal isn’t the only free weight loss tracking service out there. In fact there are several, with different features, benefits, and drawbacks. Here are some of its competitors, let’s see how it stacks up:

Vs. Noom – Noom provides the same sort of service, also for free, but their big drawback is that it’s only an app, and it’s only on the Android network. My Fitness Pal wins this battle because they have an app as well as a site, so you can use both, keep them synced up, and have access to everything wherever you go.

Vs. MyNetDiary – MyNetDiary is not as easy on the eyes as their competitors, and you’d probably want to go with My Fitness Pal or another service like Lose It!, or FitDay. They are just more savvy and easy to use.

Vs. Lose It! – Lose It!, FitDay, and My Fitness Pal are basically all the same site, just with slightly different features in different ways of presenting the data. Give them all a whirl and see which one jives with you most.

Vs. FitDay – FitDay is basically a clone of My Fitness Pal or vice versa. You can use one or the other, or give them both a try to see which one you like better. They have different interfaces but basically are trying to provide the same exact service. It’s a matter of your personal preference which graphics you like better.

Vs. FatSecret – FatSecret is nice because they give independent advice without pushing you towards specific products, meal bars, dieting shakes, and whatnot.however, My Fitness Pal provides better tracking, more eye-catching graphs, and a better overall look at your dieting snapshot.

Vs. The Daily Plate – Brought to you by the folks at Livestrong, this is a online-based system that will help you decide what you should eat, which is nice because My Fitness Pal doesn’t really give you a menu planning option. The Daily Plate is also well integrated with Facebook so this might be the better choice if you enjoy sharing your good news with friends.

Final My Fitness Pal Review

My Fitness Pal works as described, but there are some problems that they should address in the near future. There is no Facebook integration, so it’s not as easy to sign up as a could be if they would just connect through Facebook. Also, they don’t allow you to post your success stories to your Facebook profile so you sort of feel like you’re on your own here, and you can share your accomplishments with your friends. However if your private person, you’ll appreciate that you get to lose weight incognito.

Our Recommendation
Since My Fitness Pal is free to use, there’s really no harm in giving it a try and seeing what sort of results you get. While we don’t think that calorie counting is necessarily the best way to lose weight, and reduced calorie diets rarely work in the long term, it is good to be conscious of what you’re eating and this consciousness alone can lead to better food choices, which in turn will lead to natural weight loss.

What do you think? Does My Fitness Pal work or not?


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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris April 14, 2012 at 6:09 pm

A woman at work used Myfitnesspal and lost 30 lbs. I’m trying it now, so we’ll see!

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Karen August 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I’ve lost 14 lbs in 10 weeks, using myfitnesspal for tracking. I have found it very simple and effective for tracking weight, food, & cardio exercise. It has helped me really keep an eye on nutrition so I can make healthy choices.

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BroncoFan July 13, 2013 at 4:44 am

Congratulations Karen, that’s awesome!

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Angie August 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I’ve used weight watchers, biggest loser, and many others. My fitness pal has the largest food base of any of them by far. Easy to follow and navigate unlike many other sites. Even if My fitness pal started charging by the month, I would pay it. It’s that good. If your one of those people who lack determination and can’t do much on your own.. It wont work for you.

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Steven December 3, 2012 at 4:20 am

I’ve used myfitnesspal religiously for months now, and I’ve lost 30 pounds! It works if you work.

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BroncoFan July 13, 2013 at 4:45 am

That is a considerable amount of weight – great job!

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Courtney March 28, 2013 at 5:39 am

I’ve been using myfitness pal for 2 months now and have lost 15lbs so far. The app was recommended to me by friends, a husband and wife, who lost 70lbs and 40lbs, respectively. It definitely keeps you accountable and I don’t feel like it’s a “low calorie” diet. The calorie count is reasonable (only allows you to set it up to a 2lb loss per week) and I can choose whether or not I want to eat 1200 calories worth of junk or 1200 calories worth of nutritional foods. Naturally, I pick the better choices because I can eat so much more and be so full, while staying within my goal, and losing consistently week after week. I love the weekly chart because this is very similar how WW works – if I have a cheat day, I can make up for it another day and stay within my weekly goal. And the pie chart representing your carb/protein/fat percentages is awesome too. I am in love with this app!!!!

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BroncoFan July 13, 2013 at 4:49 am

Great job Courtney! I too have used My Fitness Pal and I have it set up on my iPhone. I have never had any ads come up on my phone and I’ve never used the website from a computer so I guess this is a plus. I too like how there is a weekly goal which allows you to have a cheat day.

I’d be interested to find out if your friends have managed to keep the weight off themselves or if they still use the app to stay accountable. Since I’ve used it off and on I always laugh when I log back in and it tells me I may need encouragement because I haven’t logged in for two days.

Overall, I think this is a great app that I would recommend, especially as it’s free!

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Jessica May 25, 2013 at 5:20 am

I’ve been using MFP for several months and I have lost over 30 lbs and counting! It does have a very large database but that’s because users add to it themselves. I love it but I have three things i don’t like:
This app is very Americanized and not as easy to use for people who don’t live in North America. I live in China and eat a lot of Chinese and Japanese foods, and many Japanese foods are not in their database.

It claims it can sync with exercise programs, but every program I’ve tried, it won’t sync, so I have to add it myself.

Exercise cals burned it lists is completely inaccurate. My elliptical trainer says I burned 300 cals;MPF says I burned 650. They need to re-evaluate how many calories you burn through exercise, because their numbers are WAAAY too high

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Gina Taylor July 27, 2013 at 12:39 am

Great Article! Though it needs to be updated a bit, with Facebook integration and all. But Very informative!!

Anyways I love MyFitnessPal, I started my journey January 11th 2013 and so far I have lost 35 pounds. I am completely off regular sodas within the first month of trying it. I am currently trying to get off diet soda. I drink at least 6 glasses of water almost everyday, though my goal to my body type is 12. I have to say without MFP I wouldn’t be 35 pounds lighter and counting! I was an avid soda drinker that always said I could NEVER quit drinking it, having been drinking as long as I can remember. And coming from a Southern state home cooking is every night, and though it was homegrown handmade ect. I was eating too much, and using too much butter and fats. Having grew up on I am having to retrain my brain, also my husbands (He has lost 43 pounds), and my Mom (She has lost 26 pounds)

I have tried many…. MANY Fad diets and nothing has helped. I had been researching about it November – December of 2012 but didn’t want to make an account until I had an Iphone to use because I didn’t like (and still don’t like) the website version. It always gives me a headache when I try to add foods and exercises.

Myfitnesspal is MY lifesaver and I thank the makers of it.

I have tried to get family and friends to try it but they ALL gave up within 3-5 days!! No Lie! They didn’t even give it a chance lol.

If anyone wants to add me on MyFitnessPal my username is MrsGinaTaylor next day or two will be my 200th Day consecutively logging in! :D

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Lustel August 5, 2013 at 11:12 pm

I lost 13 lbs since I started in April. I’ve been doing good and this website showed how much calories I’ve been consuming and helped me change! I also recently began adding random people to be my friends and it feels good when I weigh and and it showed that I lost one pound, then have all these people post encouraging comments. It really is nice. And since I’ve been using it a lot now I’ve memorized calories to almost everything!

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Aardman August 6, 2013 at 1:16 am

MFP made it a lot easier for me to go from 178 lbs to 135. Took me about 7 mos to lose the first 15. Then I found MFP and started serious calorie counting. Lost the next 28 lbs and reached target weight in about 3 mos. When I get lazy and stop calorie counting, I would put on 2-3 lbs. I’d go back to MFP in a mild panic and get back to target weight in about 3 days. MFP is a godsend. They don’t make weight loss easy, it never is. They make it achievable.

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Vanessa B. August 7, 2013 at 9:53 am

I love My Fitness Pal!! I have their app downloaded on my iPad and check in every day. It’s not a weight loss program in itself, but is a great encouragement tool and way to keep yourself accountable. It’s true that you have to be committed to logging daily in order to see results. I lost 10 pounds initially (not a nice big number, but I only needed to lose about 20 pounds to reach my goal weight anyway), then stopped for a few months and have since gained those 10 pounds back. I just got back into it a few weeks ago. Hope it hose pounds are as easy to lose as they were the first time.

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Elizabeth G May 1, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Trying Fitness Pal and loving it! I’ve been using it for about a week. I had a metabolic rate analysis done recently and found my metabolism was was slower than I thought and I’m using that number as my daily goal for calorie intake. My body does not like calorie restriction so I plan to get rid of pounds though being active. I also love that it gives me a realistic view on what I’m eating vs what I thought I was eating AND it makes me totally accountable. I thought I ate plenty of protein, my goal is 40/30/30 but when I look at the chart and my goal I realized I’m not getting enough calories out from protein. If I want to indulge I know I need to bump up my activity to make up the difference. I’m being completely faithful to entering ALL my info and I’m feeling pretty proud of myself and I find it very easy to do. I believe in slow and steady progress so I’m only want to lose about 1-2 pounds a month. My goal is to lose 15 pounds over the year.

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Edwin September 13, 2014 at 10:45 am

Myfitnesspal has worked great for me. In the past I have eaten horribly without even really knowing it. It has really helped me to eat more healthy. I also use it to track my cardio and weight training workouts. Essentially what it’s doing for me is helping me stay disciplined and focused. The other thing I like is the fact that you can meet people on MFP that are going through the same struggles as you and they give you encouragement. I have met some good friends on MFP. The only drawback I see is that MFP doesn’t have a professional staff such as nutritionists or fitness experts who are accessible to you. That’s why you still need to consult with health professionals in you area when trying to lose drastic weight.

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bianc November 11, 2014 at 4:59 am

Im using my fitness pal and have done for about 7 months, so far ive lost 30 kg (roughly 67 pounds) and im only 5 kg away from my goal weight. It works if youre not lazy, but i actually really enjoy using this app and putting in my meals. Not sure why, but i look forward to scanning in my ingredients anf making recipes in the app and weighing everything out :P

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