Self tracking fitness, review of popular MyFitnessPal app

Patient Centric App Review Series

App Reviewed: Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal v3.5
Last Updated:
October 16, 2012    
Compatibility:
iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry
Requires:
iOS 4.0
Reviewed on:
iPad

Goals of app review:

*Does this popular app work as advertised?
*Can the app be recommended to patients desiring to lose weight and improve their health?

Introduction:

Developed by MyFitnessPal LLC, this app is one of the most popular calorie counting apps in the app store. It is linked to the MyFitnessPal website, with a community message board, links to other self-tracking devices like the Fitbit, the Withings scale and Endomondo to name a few.

App Specifics:

This is a very user-friendly, easy entry app. With first-time registration, the user enters basic facts, i.e. name, date of birth, weight, height, etc. If weight loss is a goal, the user puts in actual weight, goal weight, how many pounds per week of weight loss desired (pre-set at one pound weekly, which is what most experts recommend), and how many times the user is going to exercise weekly, for how many minutes.

After this registration process, the app opens to a summary page with the number of calories left for the day, a pie graph of what type of calories have been consumed (carb, protein, fat) and any “news” from followers the user has.

All entries can be made from the opening page. Food entry can be done through text entry or scanning. There is an extensive database to choose from.

Exercise entry is easy with multiple types of exercises, both cardiovascular and strength training.

The progress button gives the user a graphical illustration of how they are doing from a weight loss perspective. There are buttons for messages and information on how your friends are doing.

Healthcare goals of app

Self-tracking is the up-and-coming fitness movement. For patients who want to track calories in order to lose weight, this app offers one of the most, if not the most robust nutritional information in an app. Journaling exercise and finding a community to encourage the user is also possible with the app.

Evidence to support goals

The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found in a study (which primarily analyzed responses to a different study) that self-monitoring activities such as daily weighing and tracking calories are associated with successful weight-loss[1].

Price:

  • Free

Likes:

  • Can tie into other apps and devices for self-tracking, i.e. Fitbit.
  • Syncs across devices and to the website
  • Free
  • Easy to use with robust features
  • App is updated regularly
  • Huge Database of foods, with bar code scanning enabled

Dislikes:

  • There is no way to turn off “recent news” on the opening page.

What providers would benefit from app?

  • Primary Care Doctors
  • Pediatricians
  • Cardiologists
  • Endocrinologists
  • Nutritionists/dieticians

What patient would benefit from app?

  • Obese patients
  • Type 2 Diabetics
  • Anyone wanting to track caloric intake

Conclusions:

  • This app allows users to easily track weight changes, calories consumed and exercise done with an easily understandable interface.
  • Pros-free app that is easy to use with a huge database of foods, scannable entry and exercise tracking
  • Cons-for individuals who don’t want to track calories with a community, the news feed is a large area of the screen to ignore.

Bottom Line:

  • MyFitnessPal has been available for a long time, continues to be upgraded and contains a vast amount of foods in its database. For patients who want to self track activity and calories this app is easy to use and can be helpful.

iMedicalApps Recommended?

  • Yes

Rating: (1 to 5 stars): 4.75

  1. User Interface – 4
  2. Multimedia usage – 5
  3. Price – 5 (free)
  4. Real world applicability – 5


Links:
iTunes Link
Google Play Link

Similar Apps:
LoseIt
WeightWatchers Mobile

References:
1. Kruger, Judy. Dietary and physical activity behaviors among adults successful at weight loss maintenance. 2006-3-17. URL:http://www.ijbnpa.org/content/3/1/17. Accessed: 2012-10-19. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6BXpr1Ref)

Disclaimer:
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.

Author:

Kathy Nieder, MD

View Comments

6 Responses to Self tracking fitness, review of popular MyFitnessPal app

  1. Eric November 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    I’m a physician who used this app personally and lost 25 pounds by religiously writing everything down. I think it probably underestimates caloric requirements (leading to faster weight loss than planned), but it’s otherwise a fantastic app. Highly recommend!

  2. Nancy January 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    This is the best tool for guaranteed weight loss. Without this, you have no idea of how many calories you consume! I did 1200 cal and lost 10# in a month, keeping it off 3 hrs. It makes you eat healthy too!

    • Nancy January 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

      3 yr’s I mean!

  3. Shone January 29, 2013 at 4:00 am #

    I have been using this application for 13 weeks and have lost 8kg. I am stoked. I am getting to know my body’s pattern and know that it is normal for me to drop a lot of weight one week and then gain a week and then stabilise over the next couple of weeks. I can enter food in before I make a choice on what I eat and change my mind. I make conscious choices over the type of calories I want to consume. For example, do I really want that glass of wine that is over 100 calories when I could have something more satisfying and filling :)

    People are noticing my weight loss and I feel really good about myself. This app is wonderful and I would highly recommend it. The good thing for dieticians etc is they could add their patients as friends and track progress.

  4. Alex May 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    There is other, easier to use (but less about tracking every calorie, more about creating healthy habits) app for Android, it’s called “Noom”. More intuitive, less concentred about the community, and with smaller database, but it works offline. MyFitnesspal app is more like clients for fb or twitter, it lets you to use website on mobile.

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