Over the past few months I have been receiving several questions about MyFitnessPal tracking. I decided to make all of the information I have been sharing available in hopes that it will help make the experience more streamlined. These are just my personal recommendations and experiences that I have had while using MyFitnessPal. Others may have other recommendations so remember, these may not work for everyone. I just wanted to share my experience. Also, if there is anything I do not address here that you would like more information on, PLEASE ASK! Chances are someone else has the same question or can benefit from the information.
Weigh your food. This can be somewhat tedious but it is worth it. It depends on how strict you want to be but I have found that using measuring cups aren’t always that accurate. I was shocked to find out that the scoop in my protein container only held ~3/4 of a serving. I found this out only when I weighed the amount of powder that the scoop held. So, buy yourself a food scale and get used to weighing food out. This is the most accurate way to ensure you are getting the appropriate serving size.
Plan ahead. I like to plan 1-2 days ahead of time. I leave room for small tweaks here and there but my goal is to have the next day completely planned out before I go to bed. This prevents me from being stuck with no macros come dinner time or left with loads of one macro after using up the rest.
Eat all of your macros. Most people don’t realize how much protein and actual food they should be consuming to fuel their bodies. I always believed that eating more would make me gain weight. That, however, is not the case. We need to eat the right foods in the correct ratios. Don’t skimp on the macros – make sure you are consuming all of your macros and get as close to your goals as possible within a few grams of each. The main goal is to adjust your macros over time to fit your body’s needs. The only way to do this is to consistently hit your macro goals each day. Hold the same macros for at least 2 weeks before making any changes. And all changes should be small in nature (no more than 10g change in Protein or Carbs or 5g change in Fat and rarely to multiple groups of macros at once).
Find foods that contain just one macro or as close to it as you can get. If you find yourself in the situation that you have 50g of protein left, or 10g of fat left, etc, have some foods in mind that will satisfy one particular macro. For example: egg whites are solely protein, almonds are mainly fat, and apples/bananas are solely carbs. This type of list will come in handy pretty often when you try to round out your macro intake at the end of each day.
Limit the alcohol! Limitation of alcohol intake can prove to be quite difficult but “excessive” consumption is one of the biggest detriments to our progress. The body processes alcohol as sugar so we must account for this. Try to limit your intake to 2-3 alcoholic beverages per week and no more than one per day. If you are being very diligent with your food intake but still consuming a good amount of alcohol, you are likely not going to see the results you are hoping for. The Carbs that are listed on a can of beer are NOT ACCURATE with respect to how the body processes the alcohol. A can of Miller Lite would say 4g carbs but it processes similarly to 23g carbs. Please keep this in mind.
Use the “My Foods” and “My Meals” Functionality in MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal provides the option of saving your commonly consumed foods or meals to make it easier to populate your diary. If you normally have the same 4-5 items for breakfast, save those items as a “Meal” so it takes one click to add it to your diary instead of multiple clicks. In terms of individual foods, I like to physically enter in the macro content of my commonly consumed foods into the “My Foods” feature. I don’t like to rely on the database’s macro information because I have found that information to be way off at times.
Download the MyFitnessPal App onto your phone. I use MFP both on my computer and on my phone via the app. I like to have my nutrition information and food diary easily accessible in case my food plans change.
Eat foods that are less macro dense to help curb hunger. One of the great things about this type of “diet” is that you can really eat anything you want. The most important thing is to completely consume your defined macro number each day without going over. That means… if you want to have a piece of cake you CAN – as long as you track it. Likely, there will be a lot of carbs and fat in that piece of cake, so this will reduce the amount of fats and carbs that you will be able to consume for the rest of the day. In this situation or even if you frequently experience that you are hungry, eat foods such as kale, spinach, cauliflower mashed potatoes, broccoli, etc. These foods are lower in carbs than an apple or a piece of bread and will make you feel fuller longer.
Don’t consume all of your macros during lunch and dinner. I hate going to bed feeling hungry. It took me a bit of time to adjust to how much food I needed at what times throughout the day to curve hunger. What I found works is having a medium-sized breakfast, a small mid-morning snack, a lighter lunch, a small mid-afternoon snack and a good-sized dinner. *Keep in mind that you do not want to go to bed right after you eat dinner. Wait a few hours before going to bed after consuming your last meal.
If you are eating out, look at the menu ahead of time. Some restaurants such as Panera, Moe’s, California Pizza Kitchen, etc. list their nutritional information online. This is a convenient way to plan ahead if you will be eating out. If the restaurant does not provide nutritional information, take a look at the menu and build your meal ingredient by ingredient from the MyFitnessPal database. This is a great way for you to have your mind made up on your entrée before you arrive that includes all of your healthy adjustments. Ex: Cobb salad, add a serving of grilled chicken and grilled shrimp, dressing and croutons on the side. #AllTheProtein! Hey, at least the rest of the table won’t be waiting on you to make up your mind to order!
ASK! The coaches and network of members at the gym are a great resource. There are a few of us who are using MyFitnessPal and tracking our foods. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. We may have some suggestions to help make the process smoother. We are here to help you on your #GetFitGetHealthy journey.