11 myfitnesspal Tips and Tricks
11 myfitnesspal Tips and Tricks: Start Tracking Calories and Macros Like a Pro!
I’ve been an avid myfitnesspal user, on and off, for about as long as I can remember. Whenever I decided it was time to drop a few pounds in the past 20 years I’d dust off the app and get to logging!
I’ve always gotten results when consistently using MFP alongside calorie targets that support my goals. Historically and typically, my goal for using the app has been to lose weight. Recently, however, I’ve also had success with weight maintenance and body recomposition while using myfitnesspal. There is very little that I would change about the app. Despite being happy with the app itself, in the past I always managed to pack weight back on when I was “done” losing weight. My weight loss work was done, and so was my need to use the app.
I Was Wrong
I laugh at this now, years later and, I like to think, much wiser. You’re never “done.” As scary as that may sound, especially to a dieting newbie and weight loss hopeful, it’s the truth. Health, fitness, and weight loss is an endless road. There are ups, downs, dead ends, round-a-bouts, freeways, wrong turns, construction zones, tolls, and traffic jams.
I am completely aware that weight changes constantly, for a number of reasons. In the past, however, after I was “done” losing weight and using the app, I’d gradually pack back on the 10, 20, 30 pounds that I worked so hard to lose! That’s a bit more than typical fluctuations…that’s just weight gain. Since I had the mentality that I was done once I’d reached my “goal weight,” my life would go back to my pre-diet normal. AKA, cheese-laden and sedentary. myfitnesspal was no longer necessary, and whatever login streak I’d accrued abruptly ended. My MFP account was as inactive as I was.
You’re reading 11 myfitnesspal Tips and Tricks.
Now I Get It
These days – I shudder to say, a decade or two later – my myfitnesspal account boasts a login streak around 500 days! My relationship with myfitnesspal has changed a lot since my younger years. I still use it to log my food and count my calories, but not in an overly restrictive way. myfitnesspal is no longer just a means to an end that I’m trying to reach as quickly as humanly possible. Now I’m using myfitnesspal to make damn sure I’m eating enough. Enough calories to sustain my active lifestyle while still adhering to my fitness and aesthetic goals. Enough protein to maintain muscle mass and promote muscle growth.
Eating enough to support your goals is more important than eating as little as possible in pursuit of your goals.
Eating enough to support your goals is easier to track with the help of the following 11 myfitnesspal Tips and Tricks.
Seeing as I’ve been a myfitnesspal user for so long, I pretty much know the ropes of the app. At least the free version of the app – I don’t have any experience with the paid version, but I’m sure the tips and tricks I’ve discovered translate. Here are some things I’d like to share with you to make your use of the myfitnesspal app more efficient, convenient, and enjoyable.
1. Create a Recipe
This one is probably one of the most worthwhile features to master out of this whole list of 11 myfitnesspal Tips and Tricks.
- Click the menu button to the top left and choose “Recipes, Meals, and Foods” from the drop down menu
- Click the “Create a Recipe” button near the bottom of the screen
- Choose to Enter Ingredients Manually
- Give your Recipe a name (I typically include a date, as well. I’ll explain why later.)
- If you’ve already finished cooking and weighing your completed recipe, enter the total number of grams into the Servings line. If your food isn’t done cooking yet, just enter “1” and come back to edit it later.
- Toggle the Bulk Import button to On
- Enter your ingredients. You can either be specific with amounts, product brands, and descriptions now, or type in vague descriptions with the plan to scan your ingredients’ barcodes in the next step.
- Click next at upper right
- Review the propagated ingredient list, AND CORRECT AS NEEDED. Go down the list and verify for each ingredient listed that the food, amount, and calorie/macro information is accurate. Click on an ingredient to view its detailed listing. If an ingredient is correct, there is no need to make changes and you can click the back arrow to return to the full list. If an ingredient needs changed, click Replace Ingredient at the bottom of the screen. You can now either scroll & choose a new listing, enter new search criteria into the search bar at the top and scroll & choose a resulting listing, or click the barcode icon at the top right and scan the barcode from the ingredient’s packaging. Note: results from scanning a barcode must still be checked for accuracy! A MFP entry is similar to Wikipedia information – it’s only as good as the person who entered it.
- Once all your ingredients have been added to your recipe and you’ve verified the information, click Next at the bottom of the screen.
- Here is the summary of your calories and macros per serving. If your serving size is still listed as “1”, you’re looking at the calories/macros for the entire recipe. If you’ve entered the final weight of the food you cooked, you’re looking at calories/macros for each individual gram and the numbers may seem wrong because they’re close to zero. This is fine, because you’ll be having multiple grams when you actually eat the food and the numbers will look appropriate again. Click Save.
- Once your food is cooked, weigh the entire finished product in grams if you haven’t already. Go back into Recipes, Meals, and Foods, search for and select your previously created recipe, click the 3 dots at the upper right, select edit recipe from the drop down menu, and change your servings from “1” to whatever your total number of grams is. Aka, every single gram equals one serving, purely for the ease of weighing and tracking. Click Save.
- Now simply weigh your portion as you dish it out, and log however many grams you get as the number of servings.
This may seem like a lot of work, but it gets faster and easier as time goes on.
If you’re making the same/similar recipe as one you created in the past, save yourself some time by simply editing the previously created recipe to reflect the current recipe’s ingredients and amounts, and the new total servings/grams. I add dates to the end of my Recipe names so I can easily determine which recipe I want to edit or modify if I know I used the same ingredients the last time I made it. When I update the recipe details, I also update the date in the recipe name.
2. Search for Entries with G or USDA
I very, very rarely measure food with measuring cups or spoons these days. Occasionally I’ll use them for spices or liquids, maybe. Nearly everything else, and oftentimes even spices and liquids, gets weighed in grams or ounces on my food scale. I find it to be more accurate and less clean-up.
Lots of myfitnesspal entries are listed as servings, pieces, or ounces as the unit of measurement rather than grams. Not everyone is a macro-tracking food-weigher, I guess. To narrow your search results when entering a food using the app’s search bar, type a “G” after the name of the food to show more results listed with grams as the unit of measurement.
When looking up a food that doesn’t necessarily have a brand name, like fruits, veggies, or meats, for example, enter “USDA” after the name of the food. This will pull up results that claim to take into account the USDA values specified at https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/.
Always take the search results with a grain of salt until you compare them against the item’s food label, and use your best judgement to gauge the validity of the myfitnesspal information. I like to use entries that have multiple, similar entries for items without packaging, food labels, or nutrition facts. MFP entries are only as good as the person you created them, so you’ll want to make sure you’re using one that was entered correctly and accurately.
You’re reading 11 myfitnesspal Tips and Tricks! Read on for more little known myfitnesspal app features!
3. Scan Barcodes to Search and Log
You can also scan a food item’s barcode to search for a myfitnesspal entry. This can be super convenient, however, it can also produce inaccurate results. When a barcode is scanned, MFP pulls up one entry and one entry only. It may have incorrect serving size, calorie, &/or macro information. Always double check this info!
Similarly frustrating is when the one entry that the barcode brings up is in a unit of measurement that isn’t super helpful to you. Like I said, I weigh almost everything in grams. If the MFP entry states a serving is three-quarters of a cup then I’ve got some math to do. It’s doable (see #5 below for this how-to), just obnoxious. This is usually when I cancel the barcode scan, do a search bar search, and find a more appropriate listing. It’s faster and easier than calculating the decimal amount I’d need to enter into MFP.
4. Create a Food
Sometimes you can scan the barcode and do a search bar search, but come up empty handed. Or maybe you find a MFP entry, but it’s inaccurate or the unit of measurement isn’t the one you want. Perhaps you have nutrition facts from a restaurant website but there are no current MFP entries to the foods you need to log. In these instances, you can create your own food entry.
- Click on the 3 horizontal lines in the upper left hand corner. From the drop down menu select Recipes, Meals, and Foods.
- Click on Foods on the right hand side of the display.
- Click on Create a Food at the bottom of the screen.
- Type in the Brand Name (from the food label, or the name of the restaurant, etc)
- Enter a Description (aka the name of the food item)
- Specify your serving size and unit of measurement (ex. 1 slice, 30 grams, 15 chips, 8 ounces, etc)
- Click Next at the upper right
- Enter your nutrition facts. You can be as detailed as you want here. I’m primarily concerned with Calories, Fat, Carbohydrates, and Protein, but if I have the additional info like cholesterol, sugars, calcium, etc, I’ll enter it. Why not?
- Click Save. Depending on how many of the blanks you filled in, the app may alert you that the information is inaccurate and prompt you to double check and re-enter. If you’re sure you’ve entered the information that is important to you, simply click Save again and choose No Thanks from the dialog box that pops up. This will bypass the app’s request for more thorough nutrition info.
When creating a food you can add your name or some kind of distinguishing text after the Food Item Description/Name so, down the road, you know it’s the entry you created. You can always find the food entries you created under “My Foods” under the search bar when you’re entering a food into your food log.
5. Convert Serving Size and Number of Servings Units of Measurement
WARNING: MATH AHEAD! If math isn’t your thing, skip this tip altogether and move on to #6 of these 11 myfitnesspal Tips and Tricks. Before you skip ahead, though, please know this: an easy (and math free) way to convert measurements is to simply go to Google. For instance, type “10 grams in ounces” or “2.7 ounces in grams” into your search bar. Voila.
Sometimes it’s too cumbersome or time consuming to find or create a MFP entry using your unit of measurement of choice. I know when I’m in a hurry sometimes it’s easier to just do some math and move on.
Let’s say you’re eating some Greek yogurt, for example. The nutrition info on the container says ¾ cup or 170g is 1 serving. You dish out 150 grams and scan the barcode in myfitnesspal. The listing that comes up doesn’t use grams as the unit of measurement. Instead it has the nutrition info per ¾ cup.
150 divided by 170 = 88.2%. You dished out 88.2% of a ¾ cup serving. So in this case you would enter 0.882 into the number of servings blank, so long as the serving size chosen from the drop down menu is the ¾ (0.8) cup.
Similarly, if you are using a measuring cup rather than grams and dish out ½ cup of Greek yogurt, you’ll want to either enter 0.667 as the number of servings (½ is two-thirds of ¾ cup. Aka ½ divided by ¾ equals 0.667), OR choose 1 cup from the serving size drop down and enter 0.5 as the number of servings.
Have I confused you yet? Another common one is ounces to grams and vice versa. There are 28 grams in 1 ounce. Let’s say the unit of measurement on the MFP entry is ounces, but you weighed your portion in grams. No problem. 1 divided by 28 = 0.0357. Now multiply 0.0357 by how many grams you want to log. As an example, and for easy math, let’s go with 10 grams x 0.0357 = 0.357 ounces. You’ll enter 0.357 as your number of servings, and make sure 1 ounce is selected from the serving size drop down menu.
To go the other way, let’s say you weighed your lunch meat in ounces but the MFP entry unit of measurement is grams. If you put 2.7 ounces of meat on your plate, simply multiply 2.7 ounces by 28 grams to get 75.6 grams.
Again, as mentioned above, Google is a fast, easy way to convert without doing the math yourself.
Another useful calculation is going from individual pieces of something to grams or ounces. I eat animal crackers almost daily. A serving size is 30 grams, or 16 individual crackers. Taking 30 grams divided by 16 crackers, I know each cracker weighs 1.875 grams. So, if I grab 5 crackers without weighing them and the only MFP entry I have handy uses grams as the unit of measurement, I’ll multiply 5 by 1.875 and get 9.375 grams. I’ll enter 9.375 in the number of servings and choose 1 gram from the serving size dropdown menu. One step further, if 1 g isn’t an option from the drop down menu, I can divide 9.375 by 30 to get 0.3125 for my number of servings when 30g is the serving size.
This is nice for really anything where the MFP entry isn’t in the unit of measurement you used when you weighed or counted out your portion. Chips, pepperoni slices, M&Ms, crackers, pretzels, etc.
6. Save and Copy Meals
I’m a creature of habit, and oftentimes I’ll eat the same thing for breakfast over and over and over again. I have go-to snacks and meals that I frequent and repeat often. Within the myfitnesspal app, there’s the option to copy meals from one day to another, and also to “Save Meal” or “Save Foods as Meal”
- Enter your foods under the appropriate meal heading.
- Click the three dots at the lower right at the bottom of the food list at the end of the meal
- Choose Save Meal
- Enter a name for the meal. You have the option to include directions/instructions at the bottom, or to add a photo at the top.
- You can also click on “Public” (the default setting after “Share with”) and change the sharing settings to Friends or Only Me if you’d prefer.
- Click the three dots at the lower right at the bottom of the food list at the end of the meal
- Choose Copy Meal
- Choose a Copy To Date. Your available choices range from 2 days in the past to 2 days in the future.
- A temporary dialog box and link will pop up at the bottom of the screen asking if you’d like to “Save Foods as Meal.” If you’d like to do so, click the link and follow #4 of the Save Meal instructions above.
Pro Tip: If you ate last night’s dinner leftovers for lunch today, you can copy yesterday’s dinner to today’s food log, then click and hold each ingredient to pull up a Diary dialog box giving you the option to “Move to…” or “Delete” that entry. Simply “Move to…” Lunch, and repeat for each food item you want moved over.
Keep reading 11 myfitnesspal Tips and Tricks for a couple of my absolute favorite features!
7. Recover Login Streak
I’m almost ashamed to admit that I even cared, but…during an uber rare visit from out-of-state sisters-in-law, I ended up not opening the myfitnesspal app one of the days, and…I lost my login streak. It reset to 1 day and I was shook. I was at about 475 consecutive days of logging in. Now, that doesn’t mean I tracked everything I ate each of those days – heavens no! Haha But still, I wanted my login streak back!!
I’d seen on Instagram one of my fellow SWEAT app users got MFP to recover her login streak after a similar episode. So, I Googled it. All you do is go to this link and enter in the number of days you’d like the streak set to, and boom, you’re done.
I probably could’ve just sucked it up and left this alone, but I dunno…I’m weird. I know it doesn’t mean anything, and honestly now it’s a lie, however…losing my almost-500 day streak really chapped my ass. In case it chaps yours, too, I figured this tip deserved a place in my 11 myfitnesspal Tips and Tricks!
8. Set Calorie/Macro Goals
- Go to the main menu drop down and select Goals.
- Under Nutrition Goals, Select Calorie, Carbs, Protein, and Fat Goals.
- Click on the Calories row. You’ll be given the option to update your calorie goal.
- Click on any of the Macronutrients listed. You’ll be taken to a screen where you can update all 3 of the macros as percentages. This will change the amount of grams to fit your percentages, based on the calorie goal you set.
9. View Calories, Nutrients, and Macro Breakdowns
I primarily use this feature to see my overall macros for the day to make sure I’m hitting my protein goal and keeping fat at least somewhat in check. Carbs…eh, they cool. Sometimes they’re high, sometimes they’re low, it is what it is.
From your food Diary screen, click the little pie chart on the upper right hand corner of the screen. This will pull up a “day view” of your macro breakdown (Carbs, Fats, Protein). Near the top you will see “Calories” and “Nutrients” listed, as well. Feel free to click on either of those to see the detailed breakdown of that information. I don’t find the Day View Calorie breakdown all that useful. And I don’t pay too much attention to the Nutrient breakdown of my food. I know I eat plenty of fruits and veggies, and I don’t intentionally limit my sugar intake or anything. It does, however, come in handy when I’m curious about my fiber intake. Because regularity is a beautiful thing often taken for granted. Lol
Sometimes you’re curious what the macro breakdown of one of your meals or snack was, but you’ve already logged a bunch of other foods for the day. Here’s a slightly roundabout way to see the macros for one set of food that works for me. I use the Copy Meal feature to copy the meal in question to a day in the future. Now that meal is the only one listed on the food log for the future day and I can click on the pie chart and see the macros for that meal alone. After I’m done I just delete the foods from the future day. Maybe in the paid version of myfitnesspal you can see each meal’s breakdown without the added step, but I use the free version of the app.
#10 of my 11 myfitnesspal Tips and Tricks might be one of my most widely used, yet no one knows about it!
10. See your Calorie and Macro Averages with Week View
After my daily macro summary, the feature I use most often from this screen is the weekly calorie and macro averages. Honestly, averages may be even more beautiful than regular BMs when it comes to health, fitness, and weight loss.
- Click on “Day View” near the top of the screen.
- From the drop down menu select Week or Change Date to see information for a previous week. This will pull up a bar graph displaying the calorie total for each of the previous 7 days, or whichever week you’ve selected. The very last bar on the graph is the average calorie intake for the entire week.
- Click on any one of the bars to display the calorie numbers above each bar.
- The macros numbers listed below the graph are also averaged. You can easily see how one “high” fat day or one “low” protein day averages out nicely so long as you are consistent most of the time. It all comes out in the wash.
- To view weekly averages for weeks before or after the currently selected week, simply use the < and > arrows to either side of the dates shown near the top of the screen.
- Click on Calories at the top of the screen when in Week View to see your Daily Average, as well. This number is shown at the top of the average bar on the bar graph in both the Calorie and Macros views.
11. Customize Meal Names
By default, the custom meal names in myfitnesspal are Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks (I believe…mine have been customized for so long I honestly don’t remember and don’t feel like resetting them to default settings). Did you know you can have up to 6 separate meals/headings? Well, you can. Here’s how to customize the names of the meals and utilize more than default settings.
- From the home screen, click on the 3 lines at the upper left to bring up the drop down menu.
- Select Settings from the drop down menu.
- Click on Diary Settings
- Click on Customize Meal Names
- Enter in whatever meal names and/or categories you want. Any that you leave blank will not appear in your diary.
- Click the check mark in the upper right hand corner to save settings
So Many Great Features to Learn and Use
As you can see, there’s a lot you can do within the myfitnesspal app! I really like MFP for logging food, counting calories, and tracking macros. It’s easy, familiar, and reliable.
What handy dandy myfitnesspal tips do you have up your sleeve? I’m always interested in making things easier and discovering new features!
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