Introduction to MyFitnessPal
MyFitnessPal is one of the world’s leading health & fitness apps that allows its users to track their diet.
Thereby, it offers a great variety of options to measure your calories, macronutrients and your progress in different metrics such as losing or gaining weight.
Since 2015, the app belongs to the sports article brand Under Armour.
I have been using the app for years and in this article, I would like to introduce you to the main functions.
After reading this article, we will have hopefully answered questions like:
- How does MyFitnessPal work?
- What are the differences between the Free and Premium version of MyFitnessPal?
- How much is MyFitnessPal Premium?
To start this review, I have provided a summary of all the relevant information in the following table.
How does MyFitnessPal work – The Database
Before we dive into the functions, I would like to introduce the fundamentals of the app’s comprehensive food database.
The interesting part about the database is that the information is filled and updated by the users themselves.
This means that if a user enters a new food product, all the other users automatically have free access to the product as well.
This principle has resulted in an enormous database of food over the years and enables you today to easily find the food you are looking for.
To illustrate my point, I have never had to enter a new product myself.
Almost all foods that you can buy in the supermarket or online are already available in this database.
In combination with a clear user interface and a lot of free available functions it made me a happy MyFitnessPal user.
Features of MyFitnessPal Free version
The application comes with a variety of functions.
In the following I would like to introduce to you the essential functions of the Free version.
Personal Nutrition Diary:
The main goal of the app is to track your diet, which is why it provides you with a diary where you can add your food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and additional snacks.
This is simply done by entering the name of food through a search bar or using a barcode scanner.
Upon selection of the right food, you will get an overview of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) per food and the total view per day.
It also displays other nutrients such as vitamin C or calcium and the corresponding recommended daily amount.
In addition, you can also track your fluid balance and add notes.
To set your personal goals, you are asked to enter relevant weight data (start weight, current weight, weight goal), your activity level as well as the desired composition of your calories (carbs, fat, protein).
Thereby, the composition of your calories is set by an accuracy of 5%-steps. This will be the benchmark for calorie tracking in your diary.
Based on your goals you can view the progress of your metric (e.g. weight, waist size, etc.) over time.
In addition to that, each entered progress status is documented with a date and enables you to add a photo of you progress as well.
If you have worked out or went for a run, you can simply add those exercise sessions to your diary.
The calories burned in each session are then added to your daily calorie goal.
For the integration of your activity, the MyFitnessPal database already provides you with a large selection of sports (running, baseball, boxing, etc.) and the associated average calorie consumption.
In case you want to add an individual workout, you can always add this to your database yourself.
Blog & Community:
The app gives you the opportunity to connect with other sports and nutrition enthusiasts.
You can post the status of your progress, read interesting articles or even write your own blog.
MyFitnessPal offers a lot of information and a community for help and motivation.
Plans & Workout Routines:
The App provides you with some workout plans regarding improvement of specific body parts (e.g. core, shoulders, back) or instructions to build a healthy diet.
It also comes with some high-level routines to give you some inspiration for your workout.
Recipes and Meals:
You can create or add your own recipes, meals and individual foods.
Since you are most likely using some ingredients in the same composition (e.g. your breakfast shake or favorite dinner) over and over again, this helpful function is saving time when entering the same meals at different days into your diary.
The app also provides you with a selection of recipes where you can get some inspiration for a healthy nutrition.
You can instruct the app to send you a reminder for certain meals or to document your progress.
This can be an ideal helper on stressful days to regularly eat and drink.
Additional features of MyFitnessPal Premium version
The Premium version of MyFitnessPal offers more flexibility to the user in terms of selection options.
The app comes at a price of 9.99 EUR a month or a total of 49.99 EUR if you purchase a yearly subscription.
Below you will find the most important extensions of the Premium version.
Personal Nutrition Diary:
The Premium version comes with a lot of additional information regarding your nutrition statistics.
This includes the information of how every single food contributes to your daily nutrition balance.
In addition, the app shows the food with the most calories, carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
By doing that, it prepares you with a good overview of how you can further optimize your diet and which foods you can best combine.
Furthermore, the times of ingestion are tracked as well, which means that you can exactly see when which meal or snack has been taken and derive further conclusions to optimize your diet.
The definition of your personal goals can be planned much more detailed than in the Free version of the app.
The distribution of calories is set not only in rough 5%-steps, but by entering the exact number of grams.
In addition, the daily goals can be designed depending on the individual needs on different days.
This means that a goal of 2,300 kcal can be entered on Monday and a goal of 2,500 kcal on Tuesday.
Moreover, the goals of each meal can also be set individually.
You can specify the calories and the distribution of your macronutrients per meal.
In addition, you can also specify the necessary number of calories per training session that are needed for your calorie balance.
The Premium version enables you to download your weekly reports including all information on nutrition, weight and training sessions as CSV file.
You can freely decide whether you want to increase your daily calorie goal if you have completed a training session or if the additional calories are not included in your calorie balance.
Blog & Community:
You have some exclusive content which means that some articles are available only for Premium subscribers.
The paid version does not contain any advertising (while this occasionally might be the case in the Free version)
MyFitnessPal’s position in the market landscape of nutrition apps
The market for fitness and nutrition apps has been growing over the past couple of years.
MyFitnessPal is by far not the only solution on the market.
Throughout the past years, I have been trying some of those apps as well.
To only highlight one of the apps and put MyFitnessPal into a comparison, I want to share some details about Noom.
Noom is an application for your smartphone that provides you with a personal coach and fitness program. Moreover, it helps you to track your calories and create meal plans.
The app comes with a lot of free available features in the fitness and nutrition segment.
However, the main focus lies on individual coaching.
That being said, the main benefit of this app is the coaching service (which is not free though) as part of the app’s weight loss program.
This coaching service offers you direct interaction with coaches and professional advice on how to optimize your training and nutrition.
When analyzing the fitness and nutrition app market, it can therefore make sense to look at several apps and identify the features that are most relevant to you.
In my case, the MyFitnessPal app clearly had the best overall package for both the Free and the Premium version.
Are you ready for MyFitnessPal Premium?
The basic version of the app contains all the standard functions to track your calories and the distribution of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Therefore, my recommendation for starters is to first use the Free version to familiarize yourself with all features.
As soon as you get more and more into the topics of fitness and nutrition (including training several times a week, preparing food and snacks according to your macronutrients), the Premium version definitely provides added value.
In particular, the possibilities of individual settings regarding calories and macronutrients on a daily and even on a meal basis is a great feature of the Premium version.
The app also offers a free one-month trial phase of the Premium version, which is a good opportunity for users to look at the additional features of the Premium version.
This time can be used to decide whether the app is worth the price or not.
I hope I could give you a compact overview of the main functions of the MyFitnessPal app.
If you have additional questions, additions or want more insights or screenshots of specific functions, please feel free to leave your comment below.