How to Effectively Use MyFitnessPal to Lose Weight

Last Updated on December 14, 2018 by Michael Brockbank

Want to use MyFitnessPal to lose weight but not sure where to start? It’s actually not all that difficult. In fact, it’s helped me lose and keep off the past 70 pounds. In reality, any app is beneficial if you spend time working with it.

So, how does one use the MyFitnessPal weight loss app efficiently to lose weight?

Be Positive to Use MyFitnessPal

Before we get started, you need to have a positive mindset about using MyFitnessPal. No diet, app or exercise routine is going to help if you approach it in a negative way.

If you don’t believe something is going to work, there’s a good chance it won’t.

This free app isn’t some magical tool that will instantly slim your waistline. It’s simply a platform that will help you see how your eating habits are affecting health.

With that being said, let’s get started…

Step 1: Set Up Your Account

Create MyFitnessPal Account

The first thing you’ll need to do is obviously create an account. This is quite simple, and you can use your Under Armour or Facebook accounts if you’d like.

Personally, I connected Facebook. This lets me share my progress with friends and family. And this is a key element as it helps keep me motivated when those closest to me praise my achievements.

Think of it as positive reinforcement.

Step 2: Install the App

When I started, I was using the MyFitnessPal desktop browser app. From my computer, I can keep track of my food and exercise while having access to a variety of other tools and features.

Plus, I didn’t have a smartphone at the time.

Today, I use the mobile app on a daily routine and have logged 1,032 days straight on the system.

You can find the app in the Google Play store.

Or you can install it for iOS at the Apple store.

Developer: MyFitnessPal, Inc.
Price: Free+

I would suggest getting the app. It makes recording your food much simpler, especially if you’re not always at the computer.

Step 3: Enter Your Measurements

This next part is probably easier to do on the desktop.

Click the “Check-In” function to enter measurements.
Check In Measurements

This will give you a starting point and a great way to keep track of losing weight.

You see, the scale isn’t always going to be accurate. A lot of things can cause your weight to fluctuate. But measurements can show what areas of the body are reducing in size.

For instance, I’ve watched my biceps and waist shrink over the course of two months even though the scale says I didn’t lose anything.

Step 4: Connect Your Favorite Apps

One thing that’s helped a lot with how I lost weight with MyFitnessPal is connecting my other fitness apps to the system. I kind of have an intricate web of fitness tools feeding data into this one.

If you don’t have any other apps, it’s OK. You can use the system without them. In fact, it was nearly a year before I connected my other apps.

Case in point, I lost 20 pounds in just over a month using nothing but MyFitnessPal.

Click the “Apps” item on the tool bar and connect what you have.
Connect Apps

You currently have over 50 to choose from. For me, I often use Fitbit, Runkeeper and They’re all part of my fitness tools.

But for losing weight, I just have Fitbit connected. It’s a great way to see how much I’ve burnt compared to the amount of food eaten.

Step 5: Set Your Personal Goals

Go back to the home page for MyFitnessPal.
MyFitnessPal Home

Click the “Goals” function from the toolbar.

MyFitnessPal will set basic goals for you by default. However, you can alter these to better match what you’re trying to accomplish.

You can edit:

  • The number of calories you can consume per day.
  • Carbohydrates, fats and proteins you’re allowed.
  • The different kinds of micronutrients.
  • Your fitness goals, should you have any.

If you pay for the premium service, you can also create goals centering what you’re allowed for each meal.

When you’re first starting, it’s probably a good idea to stick with the default settings. I did, and it helped me lose a lot of weight rather quickly.

Today, I set the calories to 600 per day. But that’s because I am doing my Net 600 calorie diet, which increases how much I can eat according to my physical activity.

It’s easy to track this for me because my Fitbit sends calorie-burn data to MyFitnessPal.

Have Realistic Goals

MyFitnessPal Goals

Before you commit to goals, make sure they’re realistic. You don’t want to set something that is simply impossible for you to do.

It will affect your mentality as it might set you up for failure.

Start with easy numbers to achieve and work your way from there. Like I said, I started with the default settings and made adjustments over time.

Each person will have unique needs. And you want to make sure you’re not inadvertently starving yourself or hurting the body in any way.

If you need certain dietary requirements, consult a physician before setting up your goals.

It’s possible to experience MyFitnessPal weight loss without exercise, but I don’t suggest it. Getting physical activity does more than just help you burn fat. It strengthens the body and makes living so much easier.

For instance, I geeked out when I first picked up a 50 pound bag of dog food and tossed it into the shopping cart. I thought for sure it was a smaller bag until I realized…nope! I was just getting stronger.

But it’s really up to what you want to do. You can use MyFitnessPal for nothing more than a weight loss tool quite easily.

Step 6: Start Recording Your Food Intake

MyFitnessPal Food Diary

Now this is perhaps the most important step for efficiently using MyFitnessPal. It determines whether MyFitnessPal is accurate with weight loss.

You need to record every morsel of food you eat every day.

The system is based on collecting data to give accurate results. If you don’t put in something because it makes you look bad or if you forget, the data is going to be skewed.

Scan or Record Every Meal and Snack

Over the past two years, I’ve created a habit of scanning and entering food as I go. It’s just simply part of the process of preparing a meal.

It doesn’t take but a few seconds. And if you enter food as you go instead of trying to do it at the end of the day, you won’t have to worry about trying to remember everything you put into your mouth.

Besides, seeing the numbers as you progress help determine what kind of food you eat next.

There’s been a few times when I would go for extensive walks just so I could have something like pizza for dinner. This was because I didn’t have enough calories to have something so “expensive” in terms of calories.

Make Better Choices of What You Eat

Part of losing weight with MyFitnessPal is making better choices in your diet. Just because you can eat 1500 calories today doesn’t mean you can have nothing but cupcakes to reach that number.

After seeing what Taco Bell does to me in terms of nutrition in MyFitnessPal, I greatly reduced how often I eat out.

You Only Cheat Yourself

I know some out there might not want to record all of their eating habits into MyFitnessPal. It makes you feel guilty when those numbers start changing from green to red.

But if you don’t, you’re only cheating yourself. MyFitnessPal will only work if you’re honest.

Watch the Portion Sizes

I lost more than 70 pounds so far mostly because I reduced the amount of food and snacks I eat. I try to maintain proper portion sizes according to what I need…not what I want.

And that’s the trick to losing weight. Knowing the correct portion sizes of food is ideal if you want to get rid of fat.

Food is fuel for the human body. And if you overfill the tank, the excess is stored.

Try to stick to eating a logical portion. This means staying away from restaurants as most will serve enough food to technically feed you two or three times.

What if your food is not in the list or different from what MyFitnessPal shows?

There will be times when your food isn’t listed or the calories and nutrition numbers are different. This is because manufacturers change recipes often or have different ways of making the food according to region.

In this case, you can search for the best match or enter your own numbers.

When I started, I was constantly correcting meals which were saved in the system. It doesn’t happen as much today, but it’s a good idea to do so if you want the best results.

Step 7: Continue Working on Eating Better Every Day

Watching MyFitnessPal calories centers around making better choices when eating. Using the system, you can see how much stuff you’re putting into the body while getting an idea of your overall health.

If you eat nothing but garbage, that’s how you’re going to feel.

I’m not saying that you need to stick to specific diet plans to succeed with MyFitnessPal. In fact, I still eat anything I want. The biggest difference is I don’t eat as much of it today.

Not only has this eliminated a lot of fat on my body, but I also find I spend less money at the grocery store and throw away far less trash.

This is because I only cook proper portion sizes of what I am going to eat and then freeze the rest to create my own microwave dinners.

I don’t throw away food.

More Tips to Lose Weight with MyFitnessPal

Personal Meals

You can use the app as nothing more than a food calorie counter. However, it does come with a lot of extras you might want to explore. Even the free version has some fun and engaging tools.

For instance, you can:

  • Add saved recipes section
    This acts like a personal cookbook where you can add your own recipes for private use or share them with the world.
  • Use the saved meals area
    When you combine multiple food types into one meal, you can save it for future use. This makes entering the meal much quicker, and you can even add a picture for the dish if you’d like.
  • Explore the community
    You have access to forums, discussions and finding friends in MyFitnessPal. It adds a bit of a social element to the system.
  • Add exercises
    Even though you can still lose weight with MyFitnessPal without exercising, I still recommend being more physical. Personally, I have my Fitbit recording my activity, so I don’t use this area as much today.
  • Take a look at the reports
    In the report screen, you can find data regarding your progress such as tracking your weight or various types of nutrition.
  • Connect a smart scale
    I use a Renpho smart scale in the mornings. It records all of my biographic data and then uploads it to MyFitnessPal. It saves time in having to “Check-In” with my actual weight.

It’s a good idea to explore the system and get comfortable with what’s available. Personally, I like the recipes and meals addition. It makes recording food so much faster at a later date.

How accurate is the MyFitnessPal Weight Prediction?

When you click the button to “Complete this Entry” in the system every night, MyFitnessPal will give a prediction of what you would weigh in five weeks. This is based on your eating throughout the entire day.

It’s a formula based on the average number of calories in a pound, which experts say is 3,500.

MyFitnessPal will then take the calories you consumed and subtract it from average dieting.

The problem is everyone burns calories at a different rate. There are simply too many personal variables that will skew this number.

However, it does provide a good approximation of what you would weigh if you eat the same way every day.

Be Honest When You Use MyFitnessPal

No system is going to work well if you don’t put in the effort. MyFitnessPal is a food tracking app. If you don’t input all of your eating habits, you won’t have the best results.

Just keep in mind the quality of food you eat will also impact whether you lose weight or not.

It’s all about making smarter and healthier choices when dining.[template id=”3591″]

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Michael Brockbank

Since 2015, Michael has put in the effort to lose more than 80 pounds by gamifying fitness and eating proper portion sizes. He conducts extensive research into various health and fitness products to provide the best answers possible according to his own experience and knowledge.

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