There are hundreds of calorie-counting, workout-tracking apps out there at the moment, so what makes MyFitnessPal special? First of all, it is the controlling mother of all fitness apps; it’s like twitter for WeightWatchers. It wants to know how many glasses of water you’ve had, how many steps you’ve taken, I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next update they add a Wee Count (amount? colour? Urgency?)
Having said that, there are lots of features that DO make it worth having if you’re a fitness app fan. The barcode scanner is very quick and provides you with not only the calories, but also the nutritional value of said product. There’s a swanky little recipe tool that tots up the calories in home-made dishes, if you’re that way inclined – although I am yet to use it, having been able to scan a worrying proportion of my meals on the barcode scanner.
MyFitnessPal also uses your height, weight and amount you want to lose to calculate a recommended calorie limit, although this is customisable. Entering all the food you eat does make you think about what you’re putting in your body, which I’m not sure is a good idea if you have or have already suffered from an eating disorder. There’s something about the “X calories remaining” that makes you want to abstain; I’ve even found myself having a salad for dinner only to go to bed with a half a chocolate digestive and consequently have a mouth orgasm. It’s easy to get carried away “customising” your calorie goal until you end up trying to justify living on 250 calories a day for the next month, because like, I’ll totally save money on groceries, PLUS lose at least a stone, and then I WILL BE Kendall Jenner. Right? RIGHT?
You can track your workout alongside your food diary, so all the calories you burn at the gym, playing sports, running or even walking to lecture are added onto your daily allowance, which makes sure you’re always eating enough calories to fuel your body. You can link it to other apps like pedometers or Endomondo to automatically add your exercise, or you can put it in manually, which is a tiny bit TOO easy to do when you really fancy a Crème Egg and – oh, look at that, I seem to have just enough in my allowance for one!
There are one or two things I don’t particularly like about MyFitnessPal: once you’ve finished your food diary for the day and press complete, it tells you how much you’d weigh if you continued. Some days this is quite nice, others it’s somewhat disheartening to see: if every day were like today, in 5 weeks you’d weigh SO MUCH YOU NEED A BED HOIST. What’s more, your progress is shared with all your other calorie-counting friends. I have neglected to add ANY friends from Facebook to MFP. I don’t particularly want anyone to know that I inhaled a family size bar of Dairy Milk on Friday – it’s bad enough when your fellow FitnessPal-ing housemates spot the wrappers in the bin, joyously shouting “600 calories! 600!”
So my advice to users would be: ditch the Kallo rice cakes. I know they’re only 25 calories or something but they have the taste and consistency of polystyrene. For the same amount as two of those rice cakes, you could eat a Pink ‘n’ White (remember them? Marshmallow and wafer sugar-coated-ness for 50 cals, no joke.) Salad is lean, clean and green and all that, but it’s just so much tastier with a healthy sprinkling of Cajun spices all over it. Trust me, I saw it on Instagram. All in all I would rate MyFitnessPal as one of the best and most inclusive fitness apps around, but as long as you’re eating in moderation, don’t be afraid to take all this calorie counting with a pinch of salt. And maybe a slice of cake, too.