Chances are that if you're attempting to lose weight and more specifically attempting to achieve this through 'flexible dieting' – you have probably heard of MyFitnessPal.
MyFitnessPal is essentially a food diary, allowing you to record your food intake as well as other metrics such as body weight, progress photos and daily steps by connecting your FitBit. It also provides handy reminds to motivate you to keep tracking your weight and recording your meals which can be useful.
The term 'flexible dieting' refers to the dietary strategy of tracking the calories within the food and liquids you consume and meeting a target number of calories and/or macro nutrients. The premise behind this strategy is that as long as you hit your recommended caloric target, you can be more lenient with your individual food selection and occasionally opt for something 'unhealthy'.
But the power in MyFitnessPal is its crowd sourced data – over the years users have input food items into the app with all the nutritional information included. Using the App's inbuilt bar code scanner to quickly add items to the Apps growing database. So if you searched up say 'Granny Smith Apple' – you would get dozens of results.
This is also where MyFitnessPal can become an issue.
Check out the results when I search up 'Granny Smith Apple'
A variety of options to choose from. Where do we start?
1. Verified options
One way to improve your accuracy is to use verified options, the green tick icon means that it's information has been verified as accurate.
2. Cross reference with local food composition database
In Australia we have the Australian Food Composition Database (previously 'NUTTAB'). This database is used a reference for nutritional information for food in Australia. In the United States you have United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
From here you can search up food items and cross reference with those in MyFitnessPal. Usually you can simply search up a food item on MyFitnessPal and add the prefix 'NUTTAB' to your search.
3. Avoid generic serving options
One big tip I tell all clients to avoid when using MFP – is to avoid serving options like '1 handful' or '1 teaspoon' etc. These can be very inaccurate methods of measurement. With high fat foods like peanut butter and oils, you want to ensure you're accurate with your entry. So use only grams (g) or mills (ml) for your measurement.
The exception might be if you pull the nutritional information using the bar-code scanner. In this case it might show serving size options as 'strips' or '10 crackers' or a non-specific measurement unit.
Implement these three tips and improve the accuracy of your data.
If you have any questions or would like a copy of our MyFitnessPal walk through guide. Reach out to us via social media or flick us an email.