Step 3: Start Tracking With MyFitnessPal

Do you see how happy this guy above looks?

It's probably because he just figured out how to use MyFitnessPal (MFP).

It's pretty easy to figure out and it's free.

1. You Want to Create Your Profile and Account First.

When you first download the app (available on Apple and Android), you'll create your own profile.

It'll ask you about your fitness goals and give you calorie and macro recommendations based on your information.

How nice.

However, we want to ignore MFP's recommendations.

Just get through the profile creation process.

Once you're on your home screen of the app, at the bottom you'll see a "more" button with 3 little dots.

Click that, then click the following buttons:

Goals >> Calorie, Carbs, Protein, and Fat Goals.

The screen you end up on should look like this:

This is where you will put your calories and macros you got from your calculator in the previous lessons.

2. Determine Your Tracking "Values"

Determine whether you are going to track cooked or uncooked weight (you can do a search for this feature in MFP - more on this in a second).

It's not for everything you're going to track, but just the essentials.

For example, here's what I ALWAYS track as uncooked weight:

  • Chicken Breast (I weigh this out raw on a food scale and input that weight into MFP - for example, 8oz of the raw chicken breast)
  • Potatoes and Sweet potatoes (I weigh out the potato on the scale and input that weight into MFP).
  • Vegetables if I am going to sautee them (weigh them before I put them into the pan - that's what I input into MFP).

Here's what I NEVER track as cooked weight:

  • Rice (I always measure out the cooked weight for rice. Why? Because you ALWAYS make more than one serving when making rice. You never make only enough for 1 meal. At least I don't.)
  • Beans (same reason as the rice)

This is just what I DO.

You certainly don't have to follow these rules. Just be consistent with how you weigh foods and input them into MyFitnessPal.

3. Start Tracking

There are multiple ways to start tracking with MFP.

Here are a couple of ways.

A. Barcode Scanning (easiest way):

Yes, I am aware that is a picture of a book :D

In my experience, barcode scanning works most of the time. 

The majority of grocery barcodes reveal a lot of nutritional information via MFP. 

When you scan a barcode, MFP will display the nutrition facts of the food product along with its standard serving size on your smart device. 

What makes MFP powerful is that you can adjust your serving sizes according to the nutritional data the barcode provides you!

Every food that you buy from the grocery store has a nutrition label.

Yes, some vegetables and other items that you can pick out yourself don't have them.

That's what the next method is for.

B. Searching MFP's Food Directory:

I searched for Chicken Breast and you have a lot of options.

MFP also keeps all the foods you've ever "logged" for easy adding if you use the same foods/ingredients a lot.

On some occasions, when a certain food doesn’t have a barcode, use this method to "log" in the food entry.

This is common when you log in foods like Produce.

Foods such as apples or bananas usually don’t come with barcodes (unless you buy them in a bulk bag).

Method 1 is essentially using MFP’s extensive food database. 

For example, when I log in apples, I type in “red apple generic” and a list of options become available. I pick the most appropriate selection, and I’m set. 

The first method will also be ideal when we discuss IIFYM and eating out in an upcoming section.