How To Use MyFitnessPal Effectively For Free

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As tracking calories is my chosen method for an effective body transformation, MyFitnessPal is my go to app for tracking nutrition and it is the app I recommend to anyone who wants to track their calories effectively (when used correctly).

All you need is the free version, and minimal use of the app will give you all the functionality and effectiveness you need!

To use MyFitnessPal effectively, all you need to do is:

  • Download the app 
  • Create a free profile 
  • Input your desired calorie and macro targets or use the ones MyFitnessPal provides, based on your starting body stats
  • Start tracking everything you consume every day and hit your goals! 

Do NOT use MyFitnessPal for tracking training or any physical activity as you will skew your numbers. 

This post is an in-depth tutorial of how to use MyFitnessPal effectively to get results and hit your goals. 

1) Download App

MyFitnessPal is available on both ios and android, and the app can be found in the app store and google play and can be found easily by searching for MyFitnessPal

  • Find and download the app 

2) Create a Profile 

You have two options when it comes to creating a profile on MyFitnessPal 

  • Sign up with email or
  • Continue with Facebook

The choice here comes down to personal preference as It doesn’t matter, either way. 

If you sign up using Facebook, then your MyFitnessPal will be automatically synced to Facebook. 

If on the other hand, you use email you have the choice to sync MyFitnessPal to Facebook if you wish.

3) Input Starting Body Stats 

MyFitnessPal will ask you for these details as part of the setup process. 

This step will happen as you are creating your profile.

MyFitnessPal will ask you for details such as 

  • Name
  • Fitness goal
  • Date of birth
  • Sex
  • Height
  • Weight 
  • Activity Level  
  • How quickly you want to lose weight etc

Some of these details are used to create your profile and the rest is how MyFitnesssPal calculates your calorie and macro targets. 
Once you have finished this process, your profile will be created, and MyFitnessPal will have input targets based on the method used in-app. 

Once your profile has been created, you can go in and edit it at any time by: 

  1. Clicking on the hamburger icon in the top left-hand corner 
  2. Click on the profile image again in the top left-hand corner 
  3. Click on the pencil icon in the top right-hand corner 
  4. You are now in the edit profile screen where you can edit any details and add a profile image 

Note that once set up if you modify your height or weight, the app will readjust your calorie and macro goals.

To add new weight figures 

  1. Click on the hamburger icon in the top left-hand corner 
  2. Click on “progress” from the drop-down menu
  3. Select the + icon in the top right-hand corner 
  4. Input new weight figures and progress pic if you wish 
  5. When finished hit the tick icon in the top right-hand corner

4) Input calorie and macro targets 

If you have a trainer, a nutrition plan or are following any fitness plan/program; you will more than likely already have calorie and macro goals and these may differ from what MyFitnessPal sets.

In this case, stick to the specific goals you have been set in your plan or by your trainer and ignore the ones set by the app. 

You can input these details manually:

  1. Click on the hamburger icon in the top left-hand corner 
  2. Click on “goals” from the drop-down menu
  3. Click on “calorie, carbs, protein and fat goals” under “Nutrition Goals.”
  4. Input your calorie goal 
  5. Input your macro goals

*note: On the free version of MyFitnessPal you can only input macro goals as a percentage in 5% increments, as you change these figures you can see the gram value so dial in these figures as accurately as you can. It may not be the exact gram value you have, but that is ok as it will be close enough. 

  1. When finished hit the tick icon in the top right-hand corner.

*For anyone who is following any of my nutritional programs input the figures I have set for you and note I will be giving you your macros in % form for MyFitnessPal 

If you would like to know what calorie and macro figures I recommend for you, please go to:  Calorie and Macro Figures

5) Add your friends and trainer for support and feedback 

MyFitnessPal gives you the option to add friends; this is extremely handy if you have friends that are on the same journey as you and you want to support and keep each other accountable.

Also if you have a trainer, you should add them as a friend on MyFitnessPal and allow them to see your food diary that way they can give you help, guidance and advice based on precisely what you are doing right and wrong as they will be able to see how you are progressing. 

Do not feel you need to hide your diary from your trainer you will make mistakes at first and your diet will not be perfect, your trainer is not there to punish you or make you feel bad but to help, support and guide you and then can only do that if they can see how you are progressing. 

To add a friend on MyFitnessPal: 

  1. Click on the hamburger icon in the top left-hand corner 
  2. Click on “friends” from the drop-down menu
  3. Select the plus friend icon in the top right-hand corner
  4. You can connect via Facebook, contacts and email

To share your diary on MyFitnessPal: 

  1. Click on the hamburger icon in the top left-hand corner 
  2. Click on “Privacy Center” from the drop-down menu
  3. Click on “Sharing & Privacy Settings”
  4. Select “Diary Sharing”
  5. Select from either “Private, public, friends, or locked with a key.”

6) Track Everything you consume 

Tracking everything is the most crucial step and the whole point of MyFitnessPal, and that is to track everything you consume, and I say this twice as I mean everything you consume!

When I started in the fitness industry food journals were done by pen and paper and calculations were done on a calculator and people used to track no problem. MyFitnessPal makes this whole process so easy, and the app provides you multiple ways to input food with an open-source database of options it has never been easier to track what you consume (food and drink). 

  1. On the home screen click on the big + icon with the blue background in the bottom right-hand corner
  2. Select food
  3. Select the meal, and you get taken to the food input menu

Alternatively 

  1. Click on the hamburger icon in the top left-hand corner 
  2. Click on “Diary” from the drop-down menu
  3. Click on “+ Add Food” under the desired meal
  4. Again you will be taken to the food input menu for that meal

On this input screen, you have a whole host of options to input a food you can 

  1. Use the barcode option; the icon is located in the top right-hand side of the screen. The barcode option allows you to scan the barcode of the food packaging and saves you inputting all the details.
  2. Search for food; allowing you to search the database of foods used on MyFitnesssPal. This is an extensive database with foods inputted from anywhere and everywhere.
  3. Or you can use the + icon in the top right-hand corner and add the food source and figures yourself manually 

*always use the barcode where possible

* If using the search option be aware the database is open source so the information for individual items may not be accurate. Always look for a green tick which at least shows the figures have been double-checked.

Food Quantity on MyFitnessPal 

When selecting a food or using the barcode, the information you provided is for a certain weight (usually in grams) for that food item.

To get a precise quantity of the food, you are going to eat you need to weigh your food, or if you have an item and it is in a 100g pack, and you are going to consume the whole pack then you know you are consuming a 100g.

 When using the barcode scanner, the majority of foods you scan will be measured in grams, and more than likely will be displayed per 100grams. To input different variations the easiest way is to use decimal figures, for example, inputting 1.1 of 100grams is = to 110grams, see the table diagram for a quick reference

Customise meal names in MyFitnessPal 

MyFitnessPal gives you the option to change meal names and adjust the number of meals you eat per day, allowing you to customise your day fo the way you like to eat.

For example:

Breakfast – lunch – dinner or
Breakfast- snack – lunch – snack – dinner 

To customise meal names: 

  1. Click on the hamburger icon in the top left-hand corner 
  2. Click on “Diary” from the drop-down menu
  3. Click on the three dots icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen
  4. Select “Diary Settings” from drop-down
  5. Select “customise meal names.”
  6. You can also edit “Diary Sharing” from this screen.

7) Monitor progress

It is effortless to monitor your progress as your day progresses in MyFitnessPal with lots of different options.

The simplest and most straight forward way is to use the Nutrition menu. Which displays a blue progress bar for each of the macronutrients so you can see at a glance how far you are from your target, which macro you are eating more of and which you need to eat more of!

This screen also displays micronutrients and gives you a full picture, including sugar and fibre, with a target amount.

These are two essential nutrition variables that you should also be monitoring and tracking as you go.

Monitoring nutrients in MyFitnessPal 

  1. Click on the hamburger icon in the top left-hand corner 
  2. Click on “Nutrition” from the drop-down menu
  3. Click on the “nutrients” tab from the three at the top of the screen

Alternatively 

  1. Click on the pie chart icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen from the diary page 
  2. Click on the “nutrients” tab from the three at the top of the screen

8) Do not track your exercise in MyFitnessPal

For the free version of MyFitnessPal Do Not Track Exercise in this app!

If you do it adds your the calories, it estimates you have burnt to your daily total and in turn, increases your macros which will skew your figures and make it impossible to track.

Remember daily calorie and macro figures you have been set will already include an allowance for the exercise you perform. 

Keep MyFitnessPal for nutrition only it simplifies everything. 

MyFitnessPal is an app from a suite from under armour they also have great apps for tracking exercise like “MapMyRun” likewise if you use these apps for tracking exercise do not sync them to MyFitnessPal for the same reason. 

When you train at Raising The Bar, you get access to our training app. This is the perfect tool for tracking, and following workouts and exercise, we use and recommend MyFitnessPal for tracking nutrition and MyFitnessPal will sink to our training app without any skewing to your figures. 

9) Save recipes, food and meals 

To make it even easier to track the food you love MyFitnessPal allows you to input your recipes save foods and meals, so you only have to input anything once. 

Any foods you input or scan in will be saved and automatically shown to you for easy input in future. 

If you eat the same things for each meal every day, i.e. you have porridge, honey and coffee for breakfast every day you input them the first time then save this meal and add the meal every day.

 If you have a recipe or a dish you make regularly you can go to recipes and input all the ingredients and measures under the recipe title, save it and any other time you make the same meal select it, and all the data is stored and tracked for you. 

Adding recipes, meals and food to MyFitnessPal

  1. Click on the hamburger icon in the top left-hand corner 
  2. Click on “Recipes, meals & foods” from the drop-down menu
  3. Here you can now create a recipe under the recipe tab
  4. Create a meal under the meal tab 
  5. Or add food under the food tab 

10) Use MyFitnessPal to plan and prepare your meals 

So you now have a full rundown on how to use MyFitnessPal effectively for free. 

It will still take time to get used to it a become an expert at tracking what you eat. 

Once you become savvy on MyFitnessPal, you can then take it to the next level (Raise The Bar) by using MyFitnessPal as a food planner as opposed to a food tracker. 

Using it as a food tracker, you are tracking what you hit and adjusting to hit specific figures which usually means that by your last meal you have less say in what you eat. It becomes more about trying to balance the figures than having the meal you would like, by using MyFitnessPal as a food planner you are in complete control, and the app becomes a nutrition plan. 

Pre input your foods and meals the night before so your whole day of eating is planned and that way you also know that no matter what by eating the foods on the plan you will hit your macros.

There is also no need to track any food during the day, as you have already inputted it all the night before.

By using MyFitnessPal in this way and by pre-preparing your foods, you can literally plan and prepare your whole week and all by only input data into the app once.

Get In Touch

If you have any more questions would like my help or would like to know what calories and macros I recommend for you. 

Leave a comment, send me an email or get in touch by any means available on this page and I will be happy to help: contact page 

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