How to Effectively Use MyFitnessPal and Fitbit to Lose Weight

Using MyFitnessPal and Fitbit Together
22 Jun

Last Updated on May 21, 2023 by Michael Brockbank

Two of the most used apps on my phone are MyFitnessPal and Fitbit. In fact, these two together are mostly responsible for the 80 pounds I’ve lost thus far. So, how do you use them together to get the most out of your weight loss journey?

It all depends on how committed you are to meeting personal goals.

I’ve found that combining these two helped me focus on dropping the weight while keeping it off. It all comes down to being in a caloric deficit while being physically active.

Of course, you also want to make sure those calories you do eat are healthier. You’re not going to do well if you eat 2,000 calories a day in nothing but cupcakes from Walmart.

What’s the Benefit of Using MyFitnessPal and Fitbit?

To put it simply, losing fat comes down to burning more than you consume. There’s a lot more that goes into the process depending on how quickly you want to burn that fat.

For example, I know I burn fat quickly if I can keep my carb intake to less than 150g while burning more than 3,500 calories per day according to Fitbit.

In any case, let’s look at some benefits of both of these apps and why I’ve been using them since 2014.

Tracking Your Food Macros

MyFitnessPal, even in its free version, gives you the ability to track everything you eat. You can monitor your calorie intake and most of your major macros to help adhere to any diet plan you want to use.

For instance, you can drop the macros for carb intake if you want to follow a strict Keto diet.

Another benefit of MyFitnessPal, though, is identifying foods that your body has issues digesting. You can track foods to see what you’re allergic to, what affects your sleeping patterns, and whether too many calories can cause heartburn or other physical issues.

I’ve actually discovered a lot of eating patterns that affected my moods and energy levels throughout the day.

Tracking Your Physical Activity

Fitbit’s main focus is getting more steps in the day. However, these steps can be a result of simply being more physically active.

For example, I can get about 3,000 “steps” while playing the Xbox Kinect for about 20 minutes or so. This is because I am highly active while playing and will work myself up into a sweaty mess.

Nowadays, Fitbit monitors calorie burn through its heart rate monitor. Not to mention all of the other cool things it has, such as an oxygen sensor. In any case, I’ve found Fitbit’s calorie burn to be relatively accurate.

Keeping Active to Eat More

Ok, what’s the benefit of combining MyFitnessPal and Fitbit? By connecting your Fitbit account to MyFitnessPal, Fitbit will adjust the calories you can consume by being active.

This means if you are constantly in motion, you can “afford” to eat more according to MyFitnessPal because your body is burning those carbs and calories.

By setting up calorie goals in MyFitnessPal, you can essentially guide how much you want to lose throughout the week with ease. I’ll go over my own Net 600 diet plan here in a moment in which I use both apps to spearhead my weight loss journey.

What You’ll Need to Connect Fitbit and MyFitnessPal

First, you’ll want to set up a free account at MyFitnessPal. You’ll get all kinds of goodies including your own fitness blog that you can use to share your journey. Though, I haven’t written in mine since 2014. Mostly, because I built this website instead.

Second, sign up with a free account at Fitbit. Now, you can still use the Fitbit website without having a tracker. However, it is an incredible pain to do so. It’s simpler to spend the money and get something like the Charge or Versa Smartwatch.

If you want something nice and don’t have a lot of money, some sellers on Amazon have Charge 2 and 3s for less than $100. Personally, I love my Charge 4 and have been using it for several years now.

My friend Sam loves her Versa, and it comes with a slew of things I’ll never use, such as Alexa and Spotify connections.

When you buy something like a Fitbit Charge or Versa, you install the app on your phone. This way, you can keep track of everything and view your progress.

Fitbit View
As of 4:20 today

Like I said, it’s one of the most used mobile apps in my collection.

Integrating Fitbit into MyFitnessPal

Once you have both accounts set up, you can integrate Fitbit with MyFitnessPal. It’s actually a very quick and easy process.

The next few steps are completed from the desktop browser version of MyFitnessPal.

From the MyFitnessPal account, click on “Apps” from the top nav bar.

MyFitnessPal Apps

From the list of featured apps, find Fitbit and click the “Get” button.

Get Fitbit

You’ll then log into Fitbit so that MyFitnessPal can get authorization to connect to the platform.

You’re also able to select exactly what data you want to share with MyFitnessPal. For the best experience, I suggest allowing all of the data. You can always go back and change this by disconnecting the Fitbit app in MyFitnessPal and then reconnecting.

NOTE: MyFitnessPal supports a wide range of apps. The list may give you some ideas about what apps to try on your weight loss journey.

Once Fitbit is connected, the two apps should be sharing data.

Install the Apps

Most people have smartphones nowadays. To get the most out of the Fitbit/MyFitnessPal combo, you’ll need both apps on your phone.

Both apps are available for Android and iOS mobile devices. Simply look for them by name and install.

Something else to consider is that both of these apps also come with a massive amount of free tools for a variety of situations. For example, I can check my sleeping patterns and stress management score from Fitbit.

If I want to see how many calories I have remaining in the day, MyFitnessPal comes with a widget for your phone’s desktop.

Setting Goals in MyFitnessPal and Fitbit

Now, you can start using Fitbit and MyFitnessPal together immediately. By default, MyFitnessPal will set you at a 2,000-calorie goal diet. For most people, this is perfectly fine.

In fact, I lost 20 pounds within 6 weeks by keeping with the default goals for both systems.

But if you want a more intricate and progressive plan, you can always adjust the goals for each of these apps. This is how I am currently set for my Net 600 calorie diet while aiming for 14,000 steps per day.

Just make sure you’re setting goals that are realistic for yourself. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments later if your goals are just too difficult to maintain.

How Much Do You Plan to Eat?

Setting food goals in MyFitnessPal is relatively simple. On the home screen, click the “Goals” option in the nav bar.

Setting Goals in MyFitnessPal

In the free version, you can set calories, nutrition, fitness, and micronutrient goals by clicking the edit links of each. However, you’ll have access to Calories by Meal and a couple of others should you upgrade MyFitnessPal to the premium version.

Food Goals

I’ve never felt I needed more than the calories, carbs, fats, and proteins goal. Nonetheless, you can set up your plan how you see fit.

Once you set your goals, MyFitnessPal will sync with your phone app should you have it installed.

As you can see from the image above, I have my calorie goals set to 600. This is a “net” number, which means I’ll be able to eat more if Fitbit records that I am active.

This is perhaps one of the biggest benefits of using Fitbit with MyFitnessPal. Your physical activity will affect the number of calories you’re allowed on any given day.

Of course, the higher you set your calorie goals, the more active you’ll need to be to see those adjustments.

In my case, I wind up burning twice the calories than I consume. For example, I normally eat about 1500 to 1700 calories per day while burning more than 3500.

Keep in mind, though, that this is the diet plan that works best for me. Everyone is different, and you need to stick with something that you can do for the long term.

How Active Do You Want to Be?

Next, you’ll want to adjust your goals in Fitbit. Well, you don’t have to if you want to maintain the default 10,000 steps.

From your Fitbit dashboard, you should see a widget labeled, “Today.” Hover your mouse over that widget and click the gear icon at the bottom left.

Setting Fitbit Goals

Now, you’ll see an option to set daily and weekly activity goals in Fitbit. You can change:

  • Steps
  • Calories
  • Miles
  • Active Minutes
  • Floors

You can also choose to turn on and off these goals on the “Today” widget by clicking the checkbox next to them.

Activity Goals

Once you’re done setting your goals in Fitbit, just click the “Done” button on the widget.

Just like MyFitnessPal, Fitbit will sync with your phone and device to register the new goals.

How I Manage Progress with Fitbit and MyFitnessPal

As I said, I have a Fitbit Charge 4. I am constantly setting exercises through the watch and keeping track of various physical activities to see which ones burn the most calories.

I’m also a bit of a dork when it comes to keeping track of that stuff with a spreadsheet.

I have MyfitnessPal and Fitbit installed on my Samsung Galaxy S8 and keep track of activity as well as every morsel of food I eat. Or, at least I do on the days when I’m actually being good.

Since the MyFitnessPal app has a barcode scanner, it’s easy to track everything as I consume it just by recording the food from my phone.

When I go to the gym, play the Xbox, or just go for a walk around my backyard, the physical activity is recorded by the Fitbit, and the new “net” calories are adjusted in MyFitnessPal.

If I want an extra slice of pizza, a couple of cookies, or a bowl of ice cream, I need to burn some calories to “afford” those extra foods.

MyFitnessPal Isn’t Updating from Fitbit

Sometimes, the apps will have issues communicating. If your Fitbit is no longer updating the MyFitnessPal app, the easiest way to fix this is to disconnect Fitbit in MyFitnessPal and then reconnect.

You essentially follow the steps for adding Fitbit. Instead of clicking the Get button, you click on the app itself. You can click on the icon for the app or the link of its name to open the app’s page.

From this screen, click the “Disconnect” button.

Disconnect Fitbit from MyFitnessPal

Once it’s disconnected, you simply follow the steps above to “Get” the app again.

I’ve only had to do this perhaps four or five times over the last 8 years. So, it’s not exactly a common problem for me.

What Are Your Favorite Weight Loss Apps?

Over the years, MyFitnessPal and Fitbit have played an integral role in helping me lose more than 80 pounds while keeping it off. I’m able to see how much I can eat at any given time while making sure I’m staying active enough to burn the fat.

The best part is that I am able to do all of this for the cost of my Fitbit devices. I use the free versions of both platforms, and it has worked exceptionally well for me since 2014.

With all of the fitness apps available, which ones are your favorites for tracking food, exercises, or both?

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