5 Things You Need To Know About MyFitnessPal If You Want To Make Counting Calories More Accurate
If you're counting calories in MyFitnessPal you might be surprised to know it's not accurate. In fact, many people use MyFitnessPal in a way that makes counting calories complicated, frustrating, and inaccurate. And in the worst cases, these mistakes result in overeating and weight gain, as opposed to weight loss. To help you avoid potential confusion, this article will teach you 5 ways to make MyFitnessPal help, rather than hinder your efforts to lose weight and build muscle.
So if you want to make counting calories easier and more accurate, read on.
And if you'd prefer to listen to the audio version of "5 Ways To Make Counting Calories More Accurate In MyFitnessPal", click the play button below.
Counting Calories Accurately #1: MyFitnessPal Is Not Accurate
Calorie counting has become synonymous with dieting. Hear the words 'calorie deficit' and most people have an immediate association with tracking calories in an app. Used in the right way, these apps are a useful tool in accurately monitoring nutrition and achieving a variety of fitness goals. On face value, tracking calories might seem simple. Search for the foods you ate, select the quantity, and you're done, right? In reality, there are a number of common mistakes people make. And these mistakes could be catastrophic for your dieting efforts.
The first mistake people make is assuming the apps are accurate. They are not. All systems of counting calories have a margin of error, whether this the calorie content of food, macronutrient breakdown, or micronutrient composition. A scan through the public database additions reveal some shocking errors. Oats with no carbs, nuts without fat, are two examples of the many illogical entries you'll discover. Clearly, those uploading foods to the database are low-level primates, randomly pressing buttons. And beware those green ticks. Although, these denote 'verified' foods, these can also be inaccurate.
So with all these inaccuracies you might think counting calories in an app is pointless. But here's the thing... Whatever app you choose, it doesn't have to be 100% accurate, you only need it to be good enough. It might take a dose of your own common sense to pick the most logical option, but it's not as hard as you think. You might be tempted to pick the option with the least calories, because that means you can eat more, but you and I both know you're probably kidding yourself.
Counting Calories Accurately #2: Exercise Calories Cause You To Overeat
Exercise calories are one of the main reason people overeat when counting calories in MyFitnessPal. If you're not familiar with exercise calories, allow me to explain.
The screenshot below show the 'Diary' section of MyFitnessPal. It displays the number of calories you have left to eat my subtracting the calories you ate from your target. The app then calculates how many calories you burned from exercise, either via activity tracker integration or manual entry. Effectively, you get these calories back, allowing you to eat more. But there's a fundamental problem with this.
Most people estimate calorie targets before using MFP. The Iron Paradise Fitness calorie calculator is an example of a tool that provides accurate calorie estimates. These calculators account for exercise in their calculations. Therefore, calories burned via step count, workouts, and cardio are in-built into the calorie target. So if you 'eat back' exercise calories, you'll wipe out the calorie deficit you think you've created. And no calorie deficit equals no fat loss.
But what if you estimate your calorie targets using the functions within MFP? This should be avoided for the simple fact they're not accurate.
The solution is straight-forward. Don't sync your health app, FitBit, iWatch, or other activity tracker with MFP. Ignore exercise calories altogether.
Counting Calories Accurately #3: Macro Targets Make Your Diet Too Restrictive
Unless you're a bodybuilder in peak week or an athlete participating in a weight-making sport, macro splits are irrelevant. Yes, irrelevant. There's no 'best macro split' for fat loss. And no 'ultimate macro split' for your body type. Counting calories with specific targets for protein, carbs, and fat makes the process needlessly complicated. If your goal is to lose weight and build muscle, you don't need to concern yourself with these details.
Tracking apps provide targets for all macronutrients, which could cause you to feel a failure when those numbers are missed. In reality, you have much more flexibility. Working in ranges for calories and protein creates more freedom and potentially increases your motivation for counting calories, thereby increasing accuracy. For example, the ideal target for protein is between 1.8-2.7g/kg. So your protein intake can vary considerably from one day to the next with no negative impact on progress.
Focusing on calories (and protein if you have a muscle building-related goal) is as detailed as you need to get. The ratio of carbs and fat in your diet need only be dictated by your food preferences.
Ditch the restrictive macro split mind-fuck and live in food freedom.
Counting Calories Accurately #4: Make Use Of The Good Features In MyFitnessPal, Ignore The Rest
At this point, you might have a negative view of MyFitnessPal, so it's important to reiterate that counting calories is not something to avoid and tracking apps are useful tools. In fact, MFP has features that helps improve the accuracy of calorie counting while at the same time making it easier to do. One example of this is the barcode scanner function.
Although it has its limitations, the MFP database is extensive. Almost any food you can buy can be scanned using the barcode function. This useful feature allows you to scan the foods you eat, automatically populating your food diary at the same time. No manual searches and scrolling through inaccurate options required. If I have a coaching client who is counting calories, I advise them to use this feature as much as possible. And the recipes and meals provided as part of The Lean life Method are all barcode scannable in MFP. So you can have delicious, varied, and interesting meals without the headache of searching for each individual ingredient and working out the calorie content of your food.
Other features in the app allow you to copy from previous days and plan ahead. Great if there's meals you have on a regular basis. Try some of these features and if they make the process of counting calories easier and more efficient, that's awesome.
However, a word of caution. There's a bajillion features in MFP and I'm sure some people love them, but for the purpose of losing weight and building muscle, they're unnecessary. So stick to the basics. Track food and track weight (if you need to). Then use any features that help make these processes easier. Done.
Counting Calories Accurately #5: You Don't Need Micronutrient Targets
Lastly, let's discuss micronutrient targets. In my experience, these only serve to confuse, tying people up in knots wondering if they need to worry about iron levels, and potassium levels. Don't get me wrong, nutrients are important for a healthy life, but tracking them in MFP is overkill. For one thing, each day is a mere snapshot of your micronutrient intake. So unless you're eating the same thing every day or have an eagle eye on the trend of your nutrient intake, the information is not of much value.
If you feel you might have a deficiency, see a doctor to get checked. Don't use MFP to guess.
Generally speaking, you'll get the nutrients you need by eating a wide variety of whole foods, ie vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, and dairy. If in doubt, add a multivitamin. Don't overthink micronutrients unless you have to.
The Final Word On MyFitnessPal And Counting Calories
MyFitnessPal is a great tool for those wishing to count calories, but it's not without its flaws.
Calorie counting apps are far from infallible. All will have a degree of inaccuracy, so don't put them on a nutritional pedestal and treat them as gospel. They are a tool to help you maintain a calorie deficit, nothing more. Once you understand the inherent limitations of apps, such as MyFitnessPal, you start to use them with greater confidence. they become a tool to support achievement of your goals, not a crutch you rely on to live your life.
And if you need more support with your nutrition, read on for more information on how I may be able to help.
Here's The Next Step In Achieving Your Fitness Goals
Now you know how to make counting calories more accurate, what about the other pieces of the puzzle? Are you confident in managing all aspects of your training and nutrition? And can you keep yourself accountable to ensure you maintain consistency? If you're unsure, I might have something for you.
Through my online coaching programme, The Lean Life Method, I can help you lose fat, build muscle, and achieve the body you've been striving for. Ultimately, taking the guesswork out of training and nutrition, so you can live a leaner, healthier life for good. With The Lean Life Method, you’ll learn a simple, stress-free way to achieve your fitness goals. And you'll feel more confident than ever before. And there's no need to torture yourself in the gym, avoid wine and pizza, or kill your social life in the process.
I'm guessing you've spent thousands on pills, powders, and programmes that delivered nothing. So you might be wondering what's different about me? The simple truth is this... I get results. And I'll teach you everything you need to know, so you can maintain those results. So answer me this.
- How much precious time are you spending trying to figure out what's right, instead of making progress?
- Are you sick and tired of never seeing the results your hard effort deserves?
- How much stress and frustration is your lack of progress adding to your life?
A lack of clarity might be holding you back from living the leaner, healthier life you deserve.
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Click here find out more about the results, people just like you, are getting with The Lean Life Method. And if you feel like my personal 1:1 coaching could be just what you're looking for, schedule a free consultation call. So, if you're even the slightest bit interested, click here for more information.
But for now, all I’ll say is, thanks so much for reading, keep living the Lean Life. And I’ll see you soon.
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