Sunday, 25 August 2013

Myfitnesspal and a note on calorie counting

I apologise if this reads like an advert for myfitnesspal but I am always amazed by the number of people attempting a diet who have not discovered it.

Myfitnesspal is a FREE service available on web and as an app (iPhone/ iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone).

It comes with an easy to use screen which really helps you track your progress!

Essentially it is a calorie counting app but my goodness is it a good and well thought out one. It takes your age, height, sedantry level and then looks at how many calories per day you need to net at (food - calories burned doing exercise) to lose weight depending on the rate you choose.

For foods it relies on crowd sourcing so you will find most of your favourite either supermarket ownbrands or branded goods. It also lets you know how your sugars, fats and vitamin intakes are stacking up per day so you can ensure your diet is balanced. For exercise it links with apps like endomondo for more accuracy as well as being able to record cardio work itself.

Within this app, that you can add friends if you know their username BUT that you can control what they see of yours can help with motivation and it nicely plays into the world of social media which so many of us are now so hooked on.

The main area of improvement for me would be in the scope of exercises it can calculate calories for but considering this is a free app which requires no subscription this is a minor thing.

A note on calorie counting:

For me, merely the process of recording what I eat most days (and I will be honest, it isn't every day) keeps me on track as it makes me think that bit more before I put something in my mouth!  The app means I can do it as I go along and it totally cuts out my ability to kid myself that I am actually eating better than I am.

I have read a number of pieces online where people claim they find calorie counting stressful, time consuming or counterintuitive.  Whilst this may be true of some, if you look at the majority of diet schemes such as Weight Watchers or Slimming World, they all use some means of tracking what you eat.  Weight Watchers points for example are another means of achieving the same end.  Even the GI diet and more recently the 5:2 diet draw on very similar principles.

For me the bottom line is that the most sustainable way of losing weight is not to go on the atkins, eat baby food or starve yourself twice a week.  Find a suitable number of calories for your activity level, stick to it and exercise.

So, if the diet begins tomorrow, download myfitnesspal, count some calories and go for it in a sensible and sustainable way!

If you are a myfitnesspal fan or have a great alternative or have some thoughts on what I have said about calorie counting, please leave them below!

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