When it comes about free nutrition tools to help us keep track of our calorie and macronutrients intake, MyFitnessPal (MFP) is probably one of the most popular apps available today. A dear friend introduced me to it years ago calling it the “Facebook For Fatties”, which I thought it was brilliant. Being into fitness, and having the opportunity to use a free tool to track my calories and meet new people with the same interest, I didn’t even think twice about it and opened an account.
Although not much have change since then, other than some UI upgrades to their app, the concept remains the same, and their services can be used from both a browser and the mobile app.
MFP offers a customized food diary with up to 6 meals per day, and it allows you to track up to 5 nutrients, including proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, sodium, etc. When you open a new account, you have what is called a Diet/Fitness Profile, which based on a few questions, MFP will determine for you how many calories per day you should eat in order to achieve your fitness goals, whether it is to lose, gain weight or maintain.
They also have partnered with some other companies that sell HRM, digital scales, and activity tracking devices to automatically update the amount of calories burned to your profile, making it easy to keep record of what you eat vs what you “burn”.
Other features offered by MFP are the forums or message boards (only accessible via browser) and adding other users to your friend list.
While I personally use their services and would recommend it to anyone who is struggling keeping track of what they eat, there are a few aspects of it that I truly dislike.
– First, let’s start with the browser version. While this is not MFP fault, on the forums, just like on most forums, people can be major jerks. The eternal debate whether something is healthy or not, and which source of information is legit or useless, can drive anyone crazy and turning their frustration into desperation. Not to mention many people will do their best to make you feel like crap instead of offering the support you’re probably looking for.
– Also, the forum moderators can at times do a very crappy work, locking threads, giving warning to users and deleting posts even when the topic might not be exactly violating the forum guidelines. They will never accept if they made a mistake and apologize.
– Until today I was finally able to find where to adjust my protein, carbs, fats ratio at my convenience. Something I have criticized about MFP right from the beginning, is how it always suggests a higher carbs percentage vs protein, not giving any option to adjust this ratio at all. Apparently, this can only be changed from within the mobile application and not from the website.
– If you post or comment on someone’s wall or status update, you will not get any type of notification, making it impossible to know whether someone answer you back.
– Liking any post using an iPhone or iPad’s browser (not sure if Android has the same issue), will most likely send you back to your home page instead of staying where you were before.
As for the mobile app, there are many limitations.
– You cannot access the forum at all.
– You cannot read anyone’s profile or access their photo gallery.
– You cannot access your MFP or anyone else’s blog.
– You cannot fill out your About Me section of your profile.
With that said, not everything is bad about MFP, and like I said, it is a tool I would recommend to anyone to take advantage of the huge database of meals, foods, etc (many duplicated but you can also scan the barcode of the product you will eat to find the correct one or you can add new products and even modify existing ones) that the website has. Just don’t let it get to you and most of all, don’t expect much help from other users. At the end, they are not professionals and no matter if they look fit or not, and how knowledgeable they might seem, nothing replaces those who truly are professionals.