Last Updated on May 21, 2023 by Michael Brockbank
One of the most prominent apps I’ve used to lose weight is MyFitnessPal. Since 2014, MyFitnessPal has been influential in weight loss while helping me keep it off. And this was mostly done without fads or unrealistic diets. So, how am I using it to change my life for the better?
Actually, it has more to do with being in the right frame of mind, to begin with. Because if you’re not willing to make changes in your eating habits and physical activity, the chances you’ll put back on the weight are far greater.
Think about it; after you reach your goal weight, are you going to go back to how you were in the past? That’s how you gained the weight in the first place.
Keeping weight off permanently means making changes in your life to promote health and fitness. This could be anything from simply eating less to working out more.
It really depends on you.
But the bottom line is that permanent weight loss centers around changing some personal habits. Otherwise, you could pack the weight back on relatively quickly.
11 Ways of How to Use MyFitnessPal for Weight Loss
MyFitnessPal works great when you connect it with other apps. In my case, connecting MyFitnessPal with Fitbit has made an excellent method to lose weight and keep it off.
However, the app by itself is a great tool for losing fat, especially if you make the decision to use MyFitnessPal to its fullest.
What are some ways you can use it to help you shed the pounds?
1. Understand it’s an App, Not a Magic Wand
MyFitnessPal is essentially a digital tool to help guide you to make smarter decisions when it comes to eating. And like any other tool, it’s only as effective as the person using it.
This means in order to get the most out of any fitness app, you’ll need to actually explore its potential.
No app on the market is going to magically make you lose weight. The same goes for fitness plans, exercise routines, or surgeries. Each one of these requires a specific element to work: dedication from yourself.
This means you’ll need to enter every morsel of food and every drink of water you have throughout the day. This will demonstrate how your eating habits are affecting you as a whole.
2. Be Honest with Yourself
I know that you don’t want to see those negative numbers on MyFitnessPal. They can be discouraging, especially when you’re trying to be good when it comes to eating.
But if you don’t enter in your food for the day just so you don’t see those negative numbers, you’re only cheating yourself.
The app doesn’t care if you stay on task or not. The only one affected by those numbers is you. But if you’re truly honest with yourself and record everything you eat in MyFitnessPal, you can then turn that information into an effective weight loss strategy.
I can tell you that I curbed my eating habits immediately the first time I saw how many calories my Taco Bell lunch was costing me every day. It made me realize just how easy it was to start packing on the weight.
3. Be as Accurate as Possible
The more data you’re able to collect about your eating habits and exercise, the more accurate the information. Now, not all foods are going to have a clear display of how many calories you’re eating. But if you can get close, then it’ll be helpful.
Sometimes you gotta guesstimate when you have something that isn’t recorded in the system. It doesn’t happen often, but you can get a feel for how many calories certain foods are after using MyFitnessPal for an extended period of time.
I know that I’ve become fairly good at roughly estimating how many calories are in a variety of food types.
In any case, you don’t have to be absolutely perfect to benefit from MyFitnessPal. Just get as close as you possibly can to see the difference.
4. Explore the Different Aspects of Nutrition Info
MyFitnessPal offers more than just a calorie counter. While it’s true that I lost the last 80 pounds by watching the calorie count, you can also set goals for things like protein, carbs, and fats.
Of course, you can track so much more if you pay for the premium service. Speaking from experience, though, I lost all of my weight just using the free version.
For example, if you want to try the keto diet, you can set goals for your carbohydrate intake. Perhaps you’re interested in weight lifting. At which point, you could set protein goals.
There are a lot of different metrics in the MyFitnessPal app that are perfect for any kind of weight loss plan. It all depends on your personal goals and what health and fitness strategies you want to use.
5. Make Your Own Weight Loss Recipes in MyFitnessPal
One of my favorite aspects of MyFitnessPal is using the “Recipes” feature. This is kind of like building your own card deck of foods that you can either keep to yourself or share with others on the system.
For one thing, it helps me remember how to make specific foods that I either enjoy or that have made an impact on weight loss.
The Recipes feature will also show you the Nutrition Facts of your foods on the MyFitnessPal website. This way, all you have to do is follow the recipe and then add it to your daily intake to get all of the nutritional information.
Personally, I think it’s fun to come up with experiments and see just what concoction I can come up with next.
6. Create Meals of Combinations You Enjoy
Another awesome aspect of MyFitnessPal is the ability to create “Meals” out of the combinations you like most. This is how I manage to make my own frozen meals from Trader Joe’s.
Essentially, you put together a meal in MyFitnessPal that you enjoy and want to have again. Then, you click the option to save the meal. At that point, MyFitnessPal will combine the foods and nutritional info so you can simply add the meal later.
This works similar to the recipes panel in that you’re combining specific foods so you can quickly add them the next time. You can even take a picture of what the meal looks like for future reference from the phone app.
For example, my Kung Pao Chicken and Chicken fried rice meal I make from Trader Joe’s can be added with just a tap of my finger.
7. Join Weight Loss Groups and Add Friends to MyFitnessPal
There is a bit of a social aspect to MyFitnessPal. When you click on the community tab, you access a forum-type page. Here, you can join conversations, explore groups, add bookmarks, and other interactive elements.
The idea is to find those who are like-minded in trying to lose weight. That’s because the “Buddy System” often works exceptionally well to inspire and motivate you to succeed.
You can also add friends directly who can see when you update your stats. So, anyone who follows me on MyFitnessPal can see when I lose X amount of pounds or when I make comments.
One thing I need to point out, though, is that the Feed for MyFitnessPal is often filled with ads and blog posts. So, you might have to scroll a bit to see your friend’s progress.
8. Set Goals, But Adjust as Needed
Goals in MyFitnessPal are great to help you stay focused on weight loss. But you don’t have to burn yourself out in order to meet them. Sometimes, it’s better to take it nice and easy.
In the beginning, I simply focused on the default, 2,000-calorie goal. The result was losing 20 pounds within the first month and a half. However, you can adjust the goals as you see fit.
Not everyone is going to handle the same diet the same way. You’ll undoubtedly have to make adjustments to fit your lifestyle. My point is that there’s nothing wrong with adjusting goals while using the app.
Nowadays, I have a Net 600 calorie diet I stick to thanks to the goals in MyFitnessPal and the data recorded from my Fitbit.
9. Use the Mobile App, Scans are Time Savers
When I began using MyFitnessPal for weight loss in 2014, I focused purely on the browser version. Mostly because I have issues with mobile devices altogether. Still, adding the app to my phone has saved a lot of time over the years.
For one thing, most foods are recorded by barcode. So, all it takes is to scan the code and the food is pulled up immediately.
In case it’s not, you can always search for the food by name. Nowadays, most things are recorded in MyFitnessPal, so it’s still a time saver when you’re on the move.
Just remember that sometimes the counts are off. That’s because manufacturers are constantly changing recipes to make a product more efficient or more profitable.
Not to mention that certain aspects of science are constantly in motion, this includes information about specific foods.
10. Keep Yourself in a Caloric Deficit, But Don’t Stress the Numbers
The gist of losing weight is to keep yourself in a caloric deficit. It’s all about burn vs intake. However, there are times when you really don’t want to stress the numbers.
For example, being 100 calories over your goal doesn’t mean you’ll pack on a pound of fat.
Also, keep in mind that sticking to a 2,000-calorie diet doesn’t mean you’re healthy if all of those calories consist of cupcakes. You need a nutritious balance if you want to lose weight and remain healthy.
The main point here is to not beat yourself up if you go over your calorie goal. It happens. It’s when you keep doing it for a month that it will start to show a difference. At that point, you’ll need to re-evaluate your strategy.
11. Create a Sustainable Strategy for Yourself
Lastly, the biggest purpose of using MyFitnessPal for permanent weight loss is to create a sustainable strategy for yourself.
Is your diet something you can see doing for the next five years? Can you maintain the current level of physical activity for the next 10? These are things you need to think about if you want to make a permanent change in your lifestyle.
Thanks to MyFitnessPal, I know that I can keep at a specific weight indefinitely with how much I eat and how physical I am. It helped me come up with a strategy that I can maintain for the long term.
It all comes down to making a life decision to lose the weight and keep it off. This doesn’t mean you should go back to your bad habits after losing it all. You’ll just put that weight back on.
Does MyFitnessPal Really Work for Weight Loss?
No app is going to magically help you lose weight. It all comes down to your own determination and motivation to live a healthier life. In that sense, nearly every fitness app on the market can help you drop pounds.
In the end, it all really comes down to which app you like most and what fits your lifestyle the best.
In my case, MyFitnessPal has played an integral role in weight loss. By merely watching what I put into my body and making sure I can keep a certain level of activity, I’ve lost 80 pounds and have kept it off, for the most part.
Keep in mind that I’m also using nothing but the free version of the app. That’s how effective it has been for me to shed the fat.
Does this mean it’ll work for everyone? Not really. As I’ve said before, it all comes down to how serious you are and whether you enter every bit of food you eat. Then, you’ll still need to make the decision to curb your intake.
With that being said, I can attest to how effective MyFitnessPal has been for me over the years. After all, it’s one of the most-used apps on my phone.
As long as you’re fully invested in losing weight and keeping an eye on what you put into your body, MyFitnessPal will show you some amazing results. That is as long as you put in the effort to eat right and get more physically active.
My Weight Loss Plan Using MyFitnessPal
While there are a lot of diet plans out there, I mostly focus on being able to eat what I want. I’ve also made the decision to eat less junk and increase the nutritional value of my meals.
Still, I’m able to have a serving of cookies or ice cream throughout the day without gaining the weight back.
So, how do I use MyFitnessPal to spearhead my weight loss journey?
- I set my calorie goal to 600. These are adjusted depending on how active I am.
- Using Fitbit to adjust my food thanks to calorie burn throughout the day.
- Focus on keeping MyFitnessPal in positive numbers for caloric intake.
That’s essentially my Net 600 calorie diet in a nutshell. The more active I am, the more I can eat. This guarantees me that I need to at least get up and walk for a bit if I want to “afford” dinner.
So, if I want that extra slice of pizza or another serving of cookies after hitting my intake for the day, I’ll need to walk for about 20 minutes or so to burn enough to offset the extra calories.
This strategy focuses on burning around twice my intake on any given day. I’m sure I’ll have to adjust this as I close in on my goal weight. But for now, it’s been instrumental in losing weight quickly.
On days when I properly maintain the plan, I’ll lose an average of 0.5 pounds. If I keep the carb intake below 200 grams, I’ll lose even more.
I developed this strategy for myself thanks to the data I’ve collected from MyFitnessPal. And that’s my point of using the app for weight loss. You can create your own perfect strategy that works best for you and your situation.
What Has Worked Best for You in the Past?
I’m always interested in trying new apps and programs for losing weight and improving fitness. In fact, I’m still trying to find one that can replace the social element of Exercise.com, since they butchered the website.
In any case, what apps have worked best for you? I know a lot of people who’ve experienced a great deal of success just using the basics. As long as you’re able to get something from it, that’s all that matters.