How to Use MyFitnessPal For a Body Transformation Diet

Tracking your diet and nutrition is vital to the success of your body transformation – whether your goal is fat loss or muscle building.

Food trackers like MyFitnessPal are an amazing tool to help you lose weight or reach your fitness goals far faster and more accurately – and something that works for hundreds of successful body transformation clients at Ultimate Performance.

The MyFitnessPal app gives you the power to monitor how many calories you're eating, set macronutrient targets for protein, carbs and fat, and ensure you're hitting your daily calorie target.

This article will explain:

  • Why you need to track your calories on MyFitnessPal
  • How to track your macronutrients
  • Which macronutrients you should track
  • How to get set up on MyFitnessPal
  • Setting up your calorie and macronutrient targets
  • Keeping a digital food diary
  • Key features of MyFitnessPal you need to know

What is MyFitnessPal?

MyFitnessPal is a smartphone app and website that enables you to track your daily food intake.

It allows you to set daily calorie and macronutrients targets to aim for to help you reach your weight loss or body composition goals.

The app acts as a digital food diary with an ever-evolving database of millions of different food items with data on calorie amounts, content of protein, carbs and fats, and micronutrients.

Why Track Your Calories with MyFitnessPal?

Tracking your calories and being more aware of what, and how much, you are eating will help massively improve success in transforming your body.

The number of calories you consume and expend on a daily basis is the most important factor in determining whether you gain or lose body fat, add muscle or lose muscle.

Tracking your calories gives you a more accurate idea of what you're eating on a day to day basis – and removes the guesswork from dieting.

How aware are you of what you eat? Extra calories can easily be consumed without being any more full and/or without changing anything else about your day. 

For example, if you eat 4 whole eggs for breakfast instead of 3 egg whites and 1 whole egg, that’s an extra 18g of fat and 162 calories. 

The quality of foods is important, but calorie control is more important.

If you want mouth-watering and diet-friendly recipes like this Pizza Omelette, subscribe to the Eat UP Newsletter here. 

What are the key benefits of using MyFitnessPal?
 

  • You can set a calorie target and track what you eat day to day
  • You can set macronutrient targets with protein, carbs and fat
  • You can stay consistent with your tracking on a digital food diary
  • You can review data on your diet week to week and see how it changes your body composition
  • You can get a better understanding of calorie-dense foods and foods which are filling but lower in calories
  • You can use it to lose weight or gain size effectively 
  • You can save time writing a food diary by hand
  • You can scan food items as you shop to see if it fits your macros
  • You can plan your food and meals far in advance to keep you on track

PIC 1 Someone in Shape

How To Join MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal can be accessed through desktop website or mobile phone application. You only need to create one account for both. Information will automatically be synchronised across desktop and mobile devices so you can update your daily food diary wherever you are. To do this…

PC/Laptop 

1. Go to www.myfitnesspal.com

2. Select ‘sign up’ and enter your details to create a free account.

Mobile:

1. The mobile application is available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad here, Android, and Windows Phone 8.

2.Follow the in-app instructions to sign up or log in.
 

A premium version of MyFitnessPal is available for £7.99 per month / £39.99 per year. 

The extra features provided will be outlined below, but the free version is more than adequate to be able to track and monitor your diet.

 

Understanding Nutrition and 'Macros'

Nutrition can be very complex and confusing for many people. You will read many contradictions on the internet and in fitness magazines and books. 

But nutrition is actually very simple – there are five simple rules that we advocate at Ultimate Performance when it comes to optimising your diet and nutrition.

Above all, remember that there is no pill, product or service that comes close to providing the health and physique benefits you will get from eating a balanced diet high in quality protein, packed with non-starchy vegetables and nutrient-dense and healthy fats.

If in doubt, we always suggest to 'Eat from the Land' – that means eating food sources that are natural.

A good rule of thumb when setting up your nutrition plan is – "If it doesn’t swim, run, fly, or isn’t green or grow out of the ground, then don’t eat it.” 

While the overarching rules will help structure your diet and give you the guidelines that will help optimise your body composition, there are different dietary protocols within this – some have different merits for different people, but diet is also very dependent on the person, their physiology, their genes, their likes and dislikes and their fitness goals.

Ultimate Performance provides a comprehensive nutrition plan specific to each client and their goals – but each plan will detail an overall daily calorie target and also a macronutrient split (how these total calories are allotted between protein, fats and carbs).

Before we look at how to input these targets into the MyFitnessPal app, it's important to have an overview of the macronutrients we need as part of a body transformation diet…

Protein

Protein is arguably the most important macronutrient responsible for achieving positive body composition changes.

It is broken down into amino acids (the “building blocks of protein”), which all have an important role in the body. 

The main role is to build new and repair damaged tissues.

As the primary role of “build and recover”, your protein requirement goes up when you are following a weight training program. 

This is also the case if you’re in a caloric deficit and want to minimise the risk of losing muscle mass.

Protein is also important on a body transformation diet because is has the highest thermic effect of any macronutrient (the amount of calories it takes to process it in the body).

It is also good for satiety – something important if you're on a diet and want to stave of hunger and feel fuller for longer.

A protein intake of 1-2g of protein per pound of bodyweight for males and 0.8-1.25g of protein per of bodyweight for females will likely maximise muscle gain.

Protein sources: Eggs, chicken, beef, fish, whey, Greek yoghurt.

Fat

The body needs fat to function optimally. It is important to form our cell membrane, brain and nervous system as well as playing a crucial role for hormonal output and the transport of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. 

Some fats (Omega 3) also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can aid in fat loss and also decrease pain.

One of the reasons fats have a bad rap is because they’re what’s known as “calorie dense” with a caloric value just over twice the amount of protein and carbs. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you have to be wary with your portion control.

Carbohydrates

Carbs have a bad reputation, like fats.

But carbs are not the enemy – and are neither good nor bad. We just need to understand the role they play in the body and how and when to use them.

Carbs are the easier macronutrient to break down and are a direct energy source for both the muscles and central nervous system. 

It’s worth noting that there is no such thing as an ‘essential’ carbohydrate, unlike with protein (essential amino acids) and fats (essential fatty acids).

This means that, while it's not always optimal, you can actually survive without any carbohydrates in your diet.

You have two different kinds of carbohydrates – starchy and non-starchy.

Starchy carbs: 

These are the simplest form of carbohydrates and are very easy to digest. They usually have a higher GI (glycemic index) value and spikes your insulin faster and much more than non-starchy carbs do.

Non-starchy carbs:

When you're dieting, non-starchy carbs add bulk to your stomach making you feel fuller.

They provide tones of fibre, nutrients and antioxidants that aid with detoxification, suppress inflammatory markers in your body and they don’t spike your insulin as hard as starchy carbs do. 

There are two types of fibre – soluble and insoluble – and they both play a role in optimising your gut health.

Read our Guide to Everything You Need to Know About Carbs

Getting Started with MyFitnessPal

Please note that the user interface may differ between the mobile app and website. Updates may also affect the accuracy of step-by-step instructions.

Setting Nutrition Goals in MyFitnessPal

As part of your nutrition guidelines you have been set goals for:

1. Total daily calories

2. Total daily protein (g), fat (g) and carbohydrate (g) (macronutrients).
 

Aim to hit your macronutrient targets, as this will by default satisfy your calorie target. 

You don’t have to hit macronutrient goals to the gram, aim for a +/- 10g range.

The MyFitnessPal goal-setting feature allows you to track progress towards your goals.

Website:
1. Log in to the MyFitnessPal website.
2. Select 'My Home', then 'Goals'
3. Select the ‘Edit’ option next to ‘Daily Nutrition Goals’. 
4.Ignored ‘Fitness’ and ‘Micronutrient Goals’.

Mobile:

1. Open the mobile app
2. Select ‘More’, then ‘Goals’ and then ‘Calorie and Macronutrient Goals’.

The macronutrient goals outlined in your nutrition guidelines have been set in grams. However, the free version only allows you to set these on a percentage basis, which can be edited in +/- 5% increments. As a result, if you have a very precise goal (e.g. 155g protein) you may be unable to set your goal to the exact gram.

3. Select ‘Edit’ and adjust % targets so that totals for protein, fat and carbohydrate are as close as possible to your goals.

 

The premium version offers the ability to set exact goals. Alternatively, rather than setting goals you can simply use the running totals provided for protein, fat and carbohydrate to stay within your goals.
 

Editing the Number of Meals and Meal Names on MyFitnessPal

The MyFitnessPal food diary splits your day into ‘Breakfast’, ‘Lunch’, ‘Dinner’ and ‘Snacks’. 

You can record your food in any of these sections without affecting the daily totals. 

However, recording your meals in a structured manner will make it easier for you or your personal trainer to analyse.

To add to or change your meal names…

Website:

1. Log in to the MyFitnessPal website.
2. Select ‘My Home’, then ‘Settings’, and then ‘Diary Settings’.
3. Navigate to the ‘Meal Names’ section where you can edit meal names and add up to two additional meals.
4. Select ‘Save Changes’.

 

Mobile:
1. You can only edit meal names/number through the website.

This creates a global change to all days of your diary. It is not possible to have different meal names on different days.

Searching for Food/Drink on MyFitnessPal
 

Website/Mobile:

1. Navigate to your food diary by selecting the ‘Food’ tab.
2. Select the meal to which you'll be adding food, and click ‘Add Food’ under that meal.

 

There are three main ways to search for and add food:

Option 1: Database Search
1. Type the items name into the search bar.
2. Select the most appropriate option from the search results.
 

Option 2: Barcode Scanning (mobile/tablet only)

1. Select the barcode scanning option (Requires Internet access).
2. Hover the camera over the code for 1-2 seconds.
3. MyFitnessPal will perform a database search and identify the item.

Option 3: Recent Items
1. Once an item has been logged it will become a recent item associated with this meal. This allows you to quickly add it without performing a search.
 

Validating Search Results on MyFitnessPal
 

The MyFitnessPal database is partly crowdsourced i.e. users are able to add foods. As a result, not all items will have valid nutrition information.

In order to identify valid items follow these rules…

1. Be descriptive in your search, including brand name where possible e.g. 'Sainsbury’s Chicken Breast'.

2. Look for foods that have been verified by MyFitnessPal, represented by a green tick.

3. If in doubt, compare the nutrition information to the values found in your nutrition guidelines food table.
 

Adjusting Serving Size in MyFitnessPal
 

Once you have identified the item, the next step is to enter the serving size.

1. Select gram as the unit of measurement and then enter the serving size e.g. 150g
2. Certain 'items' will not have an option for grams. If this occurs, select another option from the search results.
3. Certain items will provide an option for grams, but only in fixed increments. If this occurs, modify the number of servings to match your requirements e.g. If you want to add a 10g serving, but there is only an option for 100g, enter 0.1 as serving size.
 

Once you have identified the food and edited the serving size, confirm the entry and the item will be added to your diary.

Please note that the daily calorie total provided by MyFitnessPal is incorrect (typically off by 100-200 calories). As a result, focus on the totals for protein, fat and carbohydrate, which are correct.

Sharing Your Food Diary
 

You can share your food diary with your personal trainer who will help you make any adjustments you might need to the foods you're eating or your calorie and macro targets.

To allow others to view your diary, you must adjust your diary sharing settings.

Website:

1. Log in to the MyFitnessPal website.
2. Select ‘My Home’, then ‘Settings’, and then ‘Diary Settings’.
3. Navigate to ‘Diary Sharing’ and select ‘Friends Only’.
4. Save changes.
5. Inform your trainer so that they can add you as a friend.
 

Mobile:

1. Open the mobile app.
2. Select ‘Settings’, then ‘Sharing and Privacy’, then ‘Diary Sharing’ and then ‘Friends Only’.
3. Inform your trainer so that they can add you as a friend.

Completing Your Diary Entry on MyFitnessPal

At the end of the day, when you have finished logging your diary, select "Complete This Entry."

Exporting Daily or Weekly Nutrition Reports on MyFitnessPal

Your trainer may ask you to submit your MyFitnessPal data on a daily, weekly or ad hoc basis.

The most convenient way to do this is through the website…

1. Log in to the MyFitnessPal website.
2. Navigate to your diary and select ‘View Full Report’ at the foot of the page.
3. Choose a date range and click ‘Change Report.'
4. From your browser's menu, select ‘Print.' You then have the option to do
either of the following:
 

  • Print Screen your report

  • Export report as a PDF.
     

Print screens can be taken from the mobile app, but this will require a number of files to be submitted

3 More Useful Features on MyFitnessPal

1. Reminders 

Consistency is the key with diet – and this means being consistent with your tracking. It's always good to plan your food ahead of time, so it's all logged and accounted for, rather than just doing it all on the fly.

Having a specific time of day always works well to make this a routine. But for anyone who isn't organised or just needs a gentle prompt, there is a reminder function. You can find the reminder in 'Settings'.

2. Recipes

Making your favourite recipes – like UP's diet-friendly and low carb Tikka Masala Curry Takeaway recipe – is a great way to keep your diet interesting and delicious.

But if you had to input every ingredient in MyFitnessPal every time you made the meal, it would be far too time-consuming and laborious.

That's why the 'Recipes' feature is a great addition to the MyFitnessPal app. It allows you to input all the ingredients in your favourite meal into the app and save it as a recipe. 

Simply add in the ingredients either manually or with the barcode scanner, then you can input the number of servings it makes and it will give you a calorie and macronutrient total for each serving.

If you chop and change your recipe and the amount of meat, vegetables or other ingredients in there, it's very simply to log in and just alter the recipe in the app.

3. Meals

There's nothing more laborious than typing in and searching out the same food items day in, day out.

It's time-consuming and unnecessary. Luckily some of these items will pop up in your 'Recent' or 'Frequent' list which appears when you go to input a new item in your meals.

But there's an even quicker shortcut to use. If every morning you have a butter coffee, a mushroom and steak omelette and some mixed greens, you can save these as a 'Meal' which you can input with just one click rather than searching out many different items repeatedly.

If you want a training and nutrition plan to get you maximum results in minimum time on your body transformation, start your Online Personal Training plan with Ultimate Performance today.

Related Posts