These days everything is about tracking what we do—steps taken, stairs climbed, water consumed, hours slept, and food consumed. We have watches that track your every move, sensors built in our phone that tell you how well you slept, apps to record the exact route of your morning walk, and social media to report on it all to your friends. To say the least, we are a society who likes to be in the know.
The struggle is we want all of these different devices to track for us. Gone are the days of pen and paper, we want everything to be automatically uploaded and tracked so that we can tap our phone and see where we stand. Until the day a fake tooth can be implanted that takes a sample of the food you consume, there isn’t a way to track the most important of things to track—our eating habits.
Using MyFitnessPal to track your macros for the day is hands down the easiest way to find success in building a healthy lifestyle. I’m eating more than I ever have (foods I like nonetheless) and still losing weight.
Tip: Set a reminder on your phone for the various times of the day you typically like to eat and have it remind you to track your food.
Like anything good in life, it takes some work, but once you have it down it becomes easier. You’ll start to notice the difference in your attitude and energy level and your performance in the gym. Tracking food in MyFitnessPal takes me no more than 15 mins a day now, but in the beginning it’s going to take some getting use to.
Getting Started With MyFitnessPal
1. Download the app and set up an account
When you sign up for an account it goes through a series of questions, answer these questions, but know that we won’t be using their goal metrics to gauge results. Every person is different and these goals are based on calorie counting, we’ll be defining goals based on your specific macros later.
2. Get to know the home screen
The first thing to go over is that there is a free version of this app, and a paid version. The paid version allows you to change the summary area (as seen below) to show you how many of each Macro nutrient you have remaining for the day. I’m the sucker they got to pay $50/year (or $10/month) because I like to be able to quickly glance at how many of each Macro I have left to eat for the day.
I will go over both free and paid versions in this post
If you want to see your Macros remaining on the free version you click the diary tab, tap on the “Calories Remaining” title, and then tap the “Nutrients” tab at the top. That will give you an overview of what you have used for the day. See example below:
3. Set your macro goals
Note: The free version only allows you to get so close to your actual macro goals (usually you can get +/- 10grams). Knowing that you can continue on through this post if you’re on the free version, just know that you won’t be able to type in the EXACT macros that were calculated for you.
If you’ve reached this point and haven’t calculated your Macros (or learned what a Macro Diet is), I recommend stopping and doing that now. You can read the basics of Macro Dieting here.
Once you know your Macros (I.e. 190grams Carbs, 130grams Protein, 55grams Fat) you can set those goals in MyFitnessPal.
- Go to the “more” tab at the bottom of your screen and then tap “goals”
- Tap “Calorie and Macronutrient Goals
- Once here you can tap Carbohydrates, Protein, or Fat and it will bring up a menu to set your specific goals
Free Version Note: This will allow you to update your daily goals. In the free version, you can only use percentages to get as close to your numbers as you can.
Now that you’ve added your spcific goals your home screen adn diary summary will reflect those goals. Remember, in order to see your macros in the free version you go to your dairy and tap on the summary title at the top.
4. Add recipes
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle means that you prepare a lot of meals on your own. That way you can ensure what ingredients are actually going into the meal. No one says you’re going to be a good cook right off the bat, but practice makes perfect.
How to add a recipe:
- There are two routes you can take to get to recipes. There is a tab option when you add food to your diary, or you can tap the “more” tab at the bottom, and then tap “Meals, Recipes & Foods”.
- Tap “Create a New Recipe”
- You will now be prompted to “Add from the Web” or “Enter Manually”. I will be posting recipes that can be automatically added to your MyFitnessPal, be on the lookout! For now, tap “Enter Manually”
- Name your recipe
- Under the serving size, add a number, this may need to be adjusted once you’re done cooking and you know how many servings you produced.
- Tap the arrow in the top right
- Add each of the ingredients and the total amount of each you are adding into your recipe (this is NOT how much you plan to each, this is what is in the whole recipe)
- Once you are done it should look something like this:
Tip: DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT click the back arrow after you start entering ingredients, all your progress will be lost and you’ll want to throw your phone across the room. Don’t do it, man!
- Once you are done adding ingredients you have the option to adjust the serving size. This means if you made turkey burgers and you yielded 8 burgers, that is the total serving size for your recipe. If you made Quinoa, decide on what your serving size will be (i.e. 1/2 cup) and figure out how much your recipe made.
Congrats, you now have a recipe that you can easily add to your diary. I use a lot of the same recipes, so I entered them awhile back and now just have to pull them up if I need to remember the ingredients.
5. Add meals
Are there 5-7 meals you’re constantly going back to? Do you have a yogurt with some granola a couple times a week? What about your morning coffee and creamer, do you drink that every day? Do you take the same supplements each day?
We are creatures of habit. Make tracking your meals easier by saving your common meals. This will save you a ton of time in the future.
- Enter a common meal into your diary under one of the meal sections and then tap the three dots on the bottom right of that section.
- Enter the name of the meal and save
- Now that you have that stored as a meal, when you go to enter a food you can tap the “Meals” tab at the top of the window and quickly add that meal.
- If you login to the desktop website for MyFitnessPal.com you can customize the names of each meal (I.e. I have mine set up as Breakfast, Morning Snack, Lunch, Afternoon Snack, and Supplements)
- The barcode scanner will save you a lot of time and sometimes having the flash on (even in good lighting) helps, to do that before you start the barcode scanner cover the camera with your hand
- Add your supplements
- This becomes helpful if you switch supplements or need to go back and look at a timeframe for how you might feel without it.
Getting into the habit of tracking what you eat can be tedious and annoying in the beginning, but you have to stick with something in order to build a lasting habit. Strive to hit your numbers each day, listen to your body, and adjust as needed.
Do you have any tips and tricks you’ve learned? Share them below!