Monday, May 20, 2024

How to Use MyFitnessPal Like a Dietitian


Have you started tracking your food in MyFitnessPal, but feeling frustrated that you haven’t yet been able to achieve your health goals? 

I get it, but don’t worry. By learning to use MyFitnessPal like a dietitian (aka, how I use it with my clients!), you’ll begin to understand how to interpret the data you log into actionable steps that you can take to improve your health. 

Step 1: Set yourself up for success

In order to get the most out of your MyFitnessPal journey—and see results—you have to start by knowing what goals you are aiming to achieve. Because if you don’t know what your goal is, you can’t work towards it. 

When creating a goal for yourself, be sure it is a SMART goal. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

For example, don’t just set a goal to lose weight or to improve your eating habits. Those goals are too broad. Instead, examples of SMART goals might be: 

  1. Eat at least two vegetable servings every day for one week 
  2. Meet my calorie goal every day for the next three weeks 
  3. Walk for 10 minutes five days per week after lunch. 

These are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. And they’re realistic behavior-focused goals that will ultimately lead you to your long term, broader goals. 

How to Set, Track and Hit 6 SMART Goals for Weight Loss | MyFitnessPalHow to Set, Track and Hit 6 SMART Goals for Weight Loss | MyFitnessPal

Step 2: Track your food like a pro

I may be a scientific advisor for MyFitnessPal, but I’m saying this because I really mean it (and have seen success with my clients again and again). Tracking your food intake is one of the best ways to achieve your health goals. But how you track is just as important. 

The truth is, tracking accurately and consistently is really important. In order to truly see how the food you consume impacts your energy, focus, mood, and overall health, you need to track everything you eat and drink, everyday. 

And you can’t just track what you consume. How much you eat and drink—aka, portions— matter too! 

But let’s just be real: it can be very hard to know how many grams or ounces of something you’re eating. And who has the time for a food scale? To make things easier, I tell clients to follow this handy guide (pun intended): 

And before you feel overwhelmed with the idea of tracking, remember that using MyFitnessPal means that you can track your food in just seconds. By having one of the world’s largest food databases along with premium features such as barcode scanning, you can quickly input your foods and drinks in just seconds and see detailed nutrition information that will help highlight how your dietary choices are impacting your health goals.

Step 3: Using MyFitnessPal like a dietitian 

Once you have the basics of food logging down, it’s time to dive into the most fun part— interpreting your data. 

You might be tempted to focus only on your calorie goals each day, but not all calories are created equal. As a dietitian, I recommend focusing on more than just the calories. In fact, go to the nutrients tab, and look at the following in chronological order:

  1. Fiber: This is the FIRST nutrient I look at when working with a client. That’s because fiber not only promotes gut health, but also helps to regulate appetite while keeping blood sugar steady. The more fiber you eat, the easier it is to hit your calorie goals without cravings. 
  2. Protein: Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, helping you to stay full longer. Protein also helps to regulate metabolism and build and maintain lean body mass. 
  3. Fat: Foods can contain both unsaturated and saturated fats. Choose the majority of your fats from plant-based, unsaturated sources to support cardiovascular health. Adding dietary fat can provide a source of energy in the body while helping to regulate appetite. 

As you start to focus on macronutrient tracking along with calories, you’ll begin to notice that cravings and excessive hunger are diminished on days when you hit your fiber and protein goals. And on days where you feel constantly hungry or energy is low, you’ll probably notice you were falling short on those key nutrients. 

This can help you to identify what areas of your diet need to be adjusted in order to meet your goals.

Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients: How Are They Different? | MyFitnessPalMacronutrients vs. Micronutrients: How Are They Different? | MyFitnessPal

The Bottom Line

I always tell my clients that tracking gives you the data you need to be a detective of your own body. Food tracking can provide you with the data you need to interpret how the foods and beverages you consume each day impact everything from your appetite, to mood, energy, and overall health. MyFitnessPal has tools to help you reach your nutrition or fitness goals.

When you begin to track and interpret the data, you start to notice trends. You begin to discover the balance of macronutrients that allows you to feel your best each day. And although tracking cannot make you change behaviors, when you see data that pinpoints exactly what you need to do to feel your best, it makes it a lot easier to make behavior changes and stick with them. 



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