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Old 08-11-2011, 09:36 PM   #1
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myfitnesspal

I was looking for something to monitor my eating habits and exercise in an effort to avoid gaining weight during the winter. I found myfitnesspal recommended on the beginnertriathlete forum.

The app asks some questions, and tracks eating and exercise. Looks like a great app. But I question the app's nutritional goals. It recommends 1890 cals/day, 260 g carbs/day, and 63 g fat/day in order for me to lose 0.5 lbs per week.

Maybe these numbers make sense, maybe not. The weird thing is that I biked and swam today and the app boosted my allowable calories to 2843, carbs to 391, and fat to 94 based on the exercise.

An hour of exercise increased my allowable calories, carbs and fat by 50%? Seems a little extreme.

Does this make sense? Anyone track their eating / exercise with this or other apps?
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:45 PM   #2
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A few years ago I used software called DietPower to track my calories and nutrition. At the start it asks how much you want to lose, and by when. It, too, initially tells me to eat a lot more calories than I can eat while losing weight. However, if you don't lose weight it adjusts to your individual response so the next week it will tell you to eat less, and so on.

Maybe Myfitnesspal will adjust your calories next week, if you don't lose weight?

I thought the most valuable aspet of DietPower was being able to track your intake of a large variety of nutrients, and immediately being able to tell what you needed more of for the day, the week, or longer periods of time, and what to eat to correct the balance.
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Old 08-12-2011, 05:12 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by W2R View Post
A few years ago I used software called DietPower to track my calories and nutrition. At the start it asks how much you want to lose, and by when. It, too, initially tells me to eat a lot more calories than I can eat while losing weight. However, if you don't lose weight it adjusts to your individual response so the next week it will tell you to eat less, and so on.

Maybe Myfitnesspal will adjust your calories next week, if you don't lose weight?
I never thought that myfitnesspal could be smart enough to lower goal calories next week if I don't lose weight. I guess that gives a little more incentive to lose weight.

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I thought the most valuable aspet of DietPower was being able to track your intake of a large variety of nutrients, and immediately being able to tell what you needed more of for the day, the week, or longer periods of time, and what to eat to correct the balance.
I like the nutrient tracking aspect of Dietpower - I don't think myfitnesspal does that.
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Old 08-12-2011, 04:01 PM   #4
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I downloaded the app and played with it today. I got my daily goal of 1790 calories (246 carbs/60 fat/ 67 protein). After adding in rowing and a bike ride it changed my daily goal to 2001 calories (274 carbs/67 fat/ 74 protein).

My thoughts are these: I think weight loss is primarily a function of what you eat, but fitness and health are the results of exercise. Doing both has a synergistic effect. Since I want to lose some weight and be healthier - I'm doing both. Myfitnesspal is a very nice food tracker (especially the bar code scanner function) that I think I will wind up continuing to use. But since I'm using a low-carb way of eating to lose some weight and have a healthier diet, I will either have to adjust the carb/fats/proteins settings, or just ignore the goals function. So, as a food tracker I think it is excellent and easy to use, the rest of it may just be something I don't need it for.

I'm not sure I want, or trust, myfitnesspal to make the adjustments for the need to add calories to compensate for exercise the way I think they should be done. Or maybe I just want to use it to track food intake.

It does track up to 5 nutrients, go to settings and the adjustments are the very first options available.

Edit: On the Goals page there is an option to manually set everything. There are a lot of options and I don't have time to play with it at the moment, but it looks like you can adjust everything to fit your personal beliefs/assumptions on how to achieve goals.
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Old 08-12-2011, 04:49 PM   #5
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Thanks for the tip on editing the individual carbs/cals/protein settings. I'm with you as far as not letting myfitnesspal dictate the settings. I believe one's own situation needs to take precedent over some app recommended setting. I'm going to fine tune it this weekend. My problem is that I only have a general idea what foods are bad. I've been eating McDonald's mcskillet burritos 3 times a week. After seeing the calories, fat, carbs in those things, I'm putting a stop to those. If it wasn't for this app, I probably would not realize just how bad some foods are. For that reason alone, I think I'll continue to use the app for a while.
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Old 08-12-2011, 09:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Leonidas View Post
My thoughts are these: I think weight loss is primarily a function of what you eat, but fitness and health are the results of exercise. Doing both has a synergistic effect. Since I want to lose some weight and be healthier - I'm doing both.
This is also how I see it. My older son who is 35 and 6'1" maxed his weight at 240. On low carb he is down to 205, and on weight lifting he is solid as a rock and today for the first time in his life he deadlifted 400 x2 reps.

Often if we lose weight without proper exercise, we also lose muscle, which is really not a good result.

Ha
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Old 08-12-2011, 10:42 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ronstar View Post
My problem is that I only have a general idea what foods are bad. I've been eating McDonald's mcskillet burritos 3 times a week. After seeing the calories, fat, carbs in those things, I'm putting a stop to those. If it wasn't for this app, I probably would not realize just how bad some foods are. For that reason alone, I think I'll continue to use the app for a while.
I find myself in the same boat. Just getting back into the swing of things, I was concentrating more on getting the exercise thing on the right track because I find it harder to start. For my diet I was making individual meal choices that were low carb, but not doing anything on paper to count all the calories and where they came from.

A couple of days ago I realized I had gained weight this week and given the six-day a week intense cardio I've been doing I knew all the blame had to be placed on a diet higher in calories than I need. After entering all of today's food into the app I found that there were some gaps in my food choices (damn protein shakes/bars). Although I think I would have found it, the myfitnesspal made it easier to calculate (the bar code scanner is the bomb).

Like you I'm going to keep using it. But I'm going to ignore the exercise part of the app for two reasons: 1) It doesn't recognize a lot of strength exercises (calf raises, reverse arm curls, etc) and I already have a great app to track all that with. 2)It's more important that I concentrate on low-carb and an overall caloric reduction rather than play games with how many calories I can deduct for x-minutes of running, biking, swimming, etc.

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This is also how I see it. My older son who is 35 and 6'1" maxed his weight at 240. On low carb he is down to 205, and on weight lifting he is solid as a rock and today for the first time in his life he deadlifted 400 x2 reps.
Pass on to the man my appraisal as that being an accomplishment of "badass" nature to the max. I'm impressed. Heck, my goal is just to be able to bench my own weight a couple of times.
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Often if we lose weight without proper exercise, we also lose muscle, which is really not a good result.
Absolutely - the whole system that is our body just works better when fitness is maintained.

Here's my interesting tidbit of the day. There is a national weightloss database: National Weight Control Registry. While many of the participants used a low-calorie low-fat diet, the number of people who used a low-carb diet has increased. From their research findings...
Quote:
  • Registry members have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years.
  • These averages, however, hide a lot of diversity:
  • Weight losses have ranged from 30 to 300 lbs.
  • Duration of successful weight loss has ranged from 1 year to 66 years!
  • Some have lost the weight rapidly, while others have lost weight very slowly--over as many as 14 years.
But, many of them have a few things in common:

To achieve their weight loss almost all of them modified their eating and increased their physical activity.

To keep it off, most of them share similarities of:
  • Exercise six days a week for an hour a day.
  • Keep track of their weight regularly.
  • Eat about 1400-1600 calories a day (most of the participants are women, I would assume the average man eats more).
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Old 08-12-2011, 10:55 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Leonidas View Post
Here's my interesting tidbit of the day. There is a national weightloss database: National Weight Control Registry. While many of the participants used a low-calorie low-fat diet, the number of people who used a low-carb diet has increased. From their research findings...
But, many of them have a few things in common:

To achieve their weight loss almost all of them modified their eating and increased their physical activity.

To keep it off, most of them share similarities of:
  • Exercise six days a week for an hour a day.
  • Keep track of their weight regularly.
  • Eat about 1400-1600 calories a day (most of the participants are women, I would assume the average man eats more).
Thanks for your comment on my son. And I enjoyed reading these excellent weightloss database results that you posted. We are often led to believe that weight loss is more or less hopeless, and it clearly is not.

Ha
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Old 08-17-2011, 11:24 AM   #9
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After using this thing for a few days I've decided that I like it just fine. It has helped bring out a few mistakes I was making and my eating is on track to where I want. Still won't use the exercise part, but otherwise it does just about everything I need from a nutrition tracking program.

As I previously mentioned it helped me find some places where carbs were sneaking in to accumulate to a high daily number. Now, I see that I'm not getting enough Iron in my diet even with a daily multi-vitamin that has some iron supplementation. That may be why my last blood test showed I was slightly anemic.
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Old 08-17-2011, 12:11 PM   #10
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Often if we lose weight without proper exercise, we also lose muscle, which is really not a good result.

Ha
I think this is a very important point, as many people think only in terms of weight loss, when in fact they should be targeting fat loss, and replacing the weight lost from the fat reduction with lean muscle mass.

When I first became diabetic, I went from about 215 lbs to 175 lbs just by walking three miles/day over a three month period (also ate better). Then I started in the gym and after a few years, my weight has actually increased to 190 lbs by adding lean muscle and I now look much thinner than I did at 175.

Also, congrats to your son on his DL, that serious strong. He must be taking after Dad
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Old 08-17-2011, 08:08 PM   #11
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Now that I've lost some weight primarily through cardio, I'm adding more weight training to hopefully replace some of my remaining fat with lean muscle. Ha's son's progress is a testament to the importance of weight training in overall fitness.

I've used myfitnesspal for a week now. My reports show that my diet has a 50 pct shortage of vitamins and iron compared to myfitnesspal recommended numbers. I'm going to start taking a multivitamin.
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Old 08-18-2011, 08:17 AM   #12
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Now that I've lost some weight primarily through cardio, I'm adding more weight training to hopefully replace some of my remaining fat with lean muscle. Ha's son's progress is a testament to the importance of weight training in overall fitness.

I've used myfitnesspal for a week now. My reports show that my diet has a 50 pct shortage of vitamins and iron compared to myfitnesspal recommended numbers. I'm going to start taking a multivitamin.
Ronstar, you are way ahead of most. Keeping both a daily exercise journal and a nutrition journal is really the way to go if you are serious about getting yourself in top shape/condition. I've only done the exercise side of the equation, but thus far I've made little progress in tracking calories and macro-nutrients. Hopefully, when RE comes, I will be able to do a better job.
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Old 08-18-2011, 01:10 PM   #13
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People who keep journals do better at weight loss. I suspect that those people are more conscientious, more organized or more motivated. That is, the act of keeping the journal doesn't help, but people who are likely to succeed are also more likely to keep a journal.

OTOH, I think a journal can help you realize problems such as eating more than you thought you were.
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Old 08-18-2011, 01:23 PM   #14
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People who keep journals do better at weight loss. I suspect that those people are more conscientious, more organized or more motivated. That is, the act of keeping the journal doesn't help, but people who are likely to succeed are also more likely to keep a journal.

OTOH, I think a journal can help you realize problems such as eating more than you thought you were.
A few years ago, I started keeping a food diary - everything I ate was entered. I discontinued the practice a year ago since I stopped having regular access throughout the day to the computer where the diary was stored. I've been surprised that the act of keeping the diary seems to affect my eating habits significantly. In particular, writing it down seems to keep me conscious of my healthy-eating goals, whereas if I'm not "accountable" it's too easy to have sweet snacks or junk food.

Once I noticed this, I tried to restart the food diary for a few weeks at a time, and it did help my eating habits. But I haven't found a convenient way to access it all the time yet, so I've been off/on for the last several months.

You'd think that just knowing my habits are that affected might be enough, but nothing so far has been a good substitute for writing it down daily.
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Old 08-18-2011, 06:18 PM   #15
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Ronstar, you are way ahead of most. Keeping both a daily exercise journal and a nutrition journal is really the way to go if you are serious about getting yourself in top shape/condition. I've only done the exercise side of the equation, but thus far I've made little progress in tracking calories and macro-nutrients. Hopefully, when RE comes, I will be able to do a better job.
I don't know if Im ahead of most - I've only been doing the journal a week. I'm like you - I kept track of exercise, but not nutrition. I gain weight every winter when cardio level dips. So I'm trying to keep the weight down through the winter keeping exercise up and calories/fat/carbs down. Hopefully this app does the trick. But it does take time to enter the info and analyze it. So you may need RE to find the time

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People who keep journals do better at weight loss. I suspect that those people are more conscientious, more organized or more motivated. That is, the act of keeping the journal doesn't help, but people who are likely to succeed are also more likely to keep a journal.

OTOH, I think a journal can help you realize problems such as eating more than you thought you were.
The journal has opened my eyes to some of my eating problems in the first week. But i know I have to improve my organization and motivation to keep the data entry and analysis going.

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A few years ago, I started keeping a food diary - everything I ate was entered. I discontinued the practice a year ago since I stopped having regular access throughout the day to the computer where the diary was stored. I've been surprised that the act of keeping the diary seems to affect my eating habits significantly. In particular, writing it down seems to keep me conscious of my healthy-eating goals, whereas if I'm not "accountable" it's too easy to have sweet snacks or junk food.

Once I noticed this, I tried to restart the food diary for a few weeks at a time, and it did help my eating habits. But I haven't found a convenient way to access it all the time yet, so I've been off/on for the last several months.

You'd think that just knowing my habits are that affected might be enough, but nothing so far has been a good substitute for writing it down daily.
I find it tough to remember all the food/exercise until I get to a computer near the end of the day. I'm probably missing entering a few snacks.
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Old 08-20-2011, 06:12 PM   #16
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I have used this free food and activity tracker
USDA - CNPP - MyPyramid Tracker
successfully over the years. I have lost significant fat while using it for a few months, and if my weight starts to climb and I feel out of control, I start using it again, and so far (for several years now) I can manage to lose the five pounds of fat that tend to creep back on.
It's a nuisance to get started with it because sometimes foods are listed in ways you would not guess. Ditto with types of exercise. Also, I have found I cannot possibly eat as much carbs as it suggests, and have to eat about 300-500 calories less per day than it says I can have. Curiously, my husband (I tracked him almost against his will for a week) can eat 300-500 calories MORE (and it adjusts for sex, supposedly). Girls, it's not our imagination.
I think really just knowing I'm going to have to enter everything I eat into the computer, makes me think twice about eating something. And knowing that if I exercise more, I can eat more, makes me exercise more. The nutritional info is from the USDA, so that's what I blame the over-reliance on grains on.
A paper log (or a more modern, bar code reader log) would probably work, IMHO. It's the log (and measuring the food when in doubt), and the tracking that keeps us honest.
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