MyFitnessPal has risen through the ranks of diet services to become a major player in the weight loss world. Its part-coach, part-diet-journal approach helps anyone find, evaluate, and alter their eating and exercise habits, for free.
The MyFitnessPal app for Windows Phone recently underwent a few changes, adding new features that make it faster and more motivating.
To get started, you need a MyFitnessPal account, which you can sign up for when you first launch the app using either your Facebook log-in or an e-mail and password combo. Next, you fill out a questionnaire with your height, current weight, goal weight, and your average daily activity level, meaning whether you sit at a desk all day, or are on your feet instead.
Don’t fib when you fill out your account profile -- all that personal data helps MyFitnessPal figure out your daily calorie goals based on your basal metabolic rate, and how much energy you burn by just going about your day.
MyFitnessPal works on the simple concept that tweaking the ratio of calories in versus energy out can lead to weight loss or gain. In order to track those calories, MyFitnessPal has a massive directory of nutritional information on roughly 3 million foods, from supermarket fare and restaurant dishes, to nearly any recipe found in cookbooks or online. I even found a specific slow-cooker barbecue chicken recipe from Pinterest in MyFitnessPal's database.
That directory makes MyFitnessPal more useful than other weight-loss apps and services because it makes it as easy as possible to record your meals. It's constantly updated by users with the most current, accurate information, and anyone can manually add new dishes or recipes.
I've dabbled in counting calories using a few services, including the diet-tracking system that comes with the Fitbit, and, in my opinion, MyFitnessPal has the most comprehensive database of them all. You can connect the service to many fitness tracker device accounts, including the Fitbit, Jawbone Up, and BodyMedia Fit, and I highly suggest you do because it's one of the easiest ways to record calories.
MyFitnessPal also has a database of exercises which helps you record how many calories you burn during a workout. It's almost as extensive as the food directory, with stats on calories spent during an hour-long Zumba class, or while running on a treadmill at 5 mph with a 3 percent incline for 20 minutes. Additionally, if you connect your MyFitnessPal account to supported fitness trackers mentioned above, those devices will tell MyFitnessPal how many calories you burn throughout the day while walking around or exercising.
Lastly, MyFitnessPal has a social element, where you can connect with other members and, if you connect your account to it, with your Facebook friends who also use the service. The service encourages you to make friends who can cheer you on and hold you accountable. It’s worth noting that you can skip the social aspect altogether and use the app to track your personal goals, but you’ll need to go to MyFitnessPal's Web site to adjust your privacy settings.
The Windows Phone app has a bare-bones modern design that's confusing in places. Compared alongside the colorful, rich UI of the Android and iOS apps (both of which I downloaded to compare), this version is harder to navigate.
The homepage gives you an overview of how many calories you've consumed and burned, based on what you've recorded in your Food Diary. It also shows how many calories you can still eat each day before you hit your goal. There’s a button you can tap to add a new entry to your diary.