Getting the Most Out of My Fitness Pal

Using a Weight Loss Food Journal. How to Get The Most Out of My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Pal, is a free online food and exercise journal that I have been using for close to 2 years now. This tool, was the missing piece to my forever battle with losing weight. In my opinion, if I did not use My Fitness Pal to keep track of my calories and hold myself accountable I am certain I would still be where I was when I first started – 40 pounds overweight!

I get a lot of questions (both offline and on) about My Fitness Pal. While I am not a My Fitness Pal expert, nor do I work for the company, I do use it a lot and feel confident talking to others about my positive experiences with it. Therefore, using my experiences, I decided to put this post together as a way to help you get the most out of this free online weight loss tool.

My Fitness Pal is much more than just a means to calculate your daily caloric intake and nutritional information. Even though, this is probably the main reason most people use it, there is much more to assist you in your healthy lifestyle efforts.


Mobile App

With being a busy mom always on the go I actually use the mobile app a lot more than the actual site. On the mobile app you can log in your food and exercise, check your daily nutritional allowance, and have access to their enormous database of food. Because all of this information is right at your fingertips 24/7 the mobile app basically takes away the “I am never home and too busy” excuse.


Food Database

My Fitness Pal has an enormous database of food in their system. The food is added by it’s members as well as by the staff. This database also includes food and menu items from popular grocery chains and restaurants. I have used the database many times when I was trying to choose a healthier option at a restaurant or even at the grocery store. It kind of takes the place of those big bulky calorie books that take forever to find what your looking for.

Recipe Builder

This is the feature I use most often now. As you know I spend a lot of time cooking up new recipes for my family and to share on Skinny Mom’s Kitchen. The recipe builder allows me to figure out the nutritional content of each recipe I make. All I need to do is plug in the ingredients and the recipe builder figures out, based on what I entered, the nutritional information for that recipe. This has come in very handy when I am developing or adapting a brand new recipe and want to keep the calories, fat, and portions under control.


Once you have been using My Fitness Pal for a little bit you can download reports of your nutrition, exercise, and progress. These reports help to track certain trends, milestones, and problem areas as you move forward on your weight loss goals. I found these reports to be motivating for two distinct reasons. First, if I was doing well I felt the desire to keep going. Second, if I was slacking a bit I would get that fire I needed to pick up the pace. Numbers don’t lie and it is hard to deny them when they are staring you in the face.

Message Boards, Groups, and Blogs

My Fitness Pal also has a very active community of members on their message boards, groups, and blogs. On the message boards people ask questions, discuss experiences, share recipes, and offer encouragement and support to other members. The groups offer a smaller community of members that have specific interests in certain topics. For example, you can find groups on Couch to 5K users, Fitbit Users, Weight Lifting, and many more. There really is something for everyone and if you don’t see a group that fits your needs then you can start your own.

Then there are the My Fitness Pal blogs. Basically, from what I have seen and read, these blogs are members tracking and sharing their weight loss progress. Many of the bloggers share their personal experiences and tips with adopting a healthier lifestyle. I always find it inspirational and motivating to read about other’s experiences.

If you need more of a community to assist you along your weight loss goals then check these My Fitness Pal community resources out. However, it is easy to get sucked in and waste hours hanging out in these communities if you are not careful. So just be aware and use them as you see fit. Remember reading the information is not going to make you lose weight – you have to take action.

Other tools

Besides the tools I mentioned My Fitness Pal also has a BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and BMI (Body Mass Index) calculator. The BMR calculator calculates the amount of calories your body burns by just existing everyday. The BMI calculator helps you find a healthy weight range base on your height and weight. While the BMI is not accurate for all people (pregnant ladies, body builders, and people under 5 ft) , and some people don’t agree with it at all, I find it helpful to see what a healthy weight range is for my height. Again, numbers don’t lie.

As you can see, My Fitness Pal is a fantastic weight loss resource. Everything I mentioned is free to use. There are other free sites out there but this is the only one I use and can talk about from experience. If you are trying to losing weight or just adopt some healthier lifestyle habits then I highly recommend you give My Fitness Pal a shot. I lost 40 pounds using their tools and I know it can help you out too.

Image Credit – My Fitness Pal

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  1. I love how at the end of the day it predicts what you might weigh in five weeks based on how you ate for that day. I think that’s a motivating feature when you feel frustrated that you denied yourself something and see, hey, it could really pay off.

  2. They should pay you, Tammy! I started using MFP in April because of your glowing recommendations! I was stuck in my wt loss goals and I needed to change something, so I started tracking my food with MFP. What I really love about it is that it interfaces with my FitBit and it will give me “extra” calories based on how active I’ve been for that day. Entering food can be tedious at times, but it is eye-opening, and it has helped me to lose about 10 pounds so far. Food journals are an important key in wt loss and MFP is an easy way to keep track.

    • Ha! I wish 🙂 that is awesome with your weight loss. I actually just recently heard Fitbit. I need to check that out.

      • I also credit my FitBit with making my wt loss a reality. As you say, the numbers don’t lie, and having the FitBit track the number of steps every day was eye-opening. It’s actually difficult to get 10,000 steps every day! I’m a nurse on a busy postpartum unit, I still have to exercise before going to work to make sure I get enough steps and activity for the day!

        I love how MFP and FitBit work together – it has been the right combo for me!

        • Melissa says:

          I have a little pedometer. I’m sure it’s not quite as accurate as FitBit probably is, but I can attest that it is VERY difficult to get in 10,000 steps a day!! Even adding a 40 minute walk (about 2.5 miles) to my normal daily routine I’m still only around 8,000 steps!

          • I have a pedometer on my phone (a samsung S4) and I do in excess of 10 000 steps almost every day. I work as a nurse and during a normal shift I do about 15000 steps. I don’t understand that you would’t hit your goal of 10.000 steps with a 40 min walk – unless its not reading every step because of the positioning. maybe try moving it to your leg pocket or something and see if that works.

  3. I’ve been using MFP and have lost 79 pounds this year. Love it!

  4. I love MFP! I have previously had success with WW, and as easy as WW to follow I found myself obsessing over finding stats of recipes, products, etc. MFP is a gazillion times easier! All I need are the calories and i’m good. I don’t seem to freak out about calories like I did about points. And the free part is also pretty amazing as well.

    • Hi Ronnie,

      I totally agree with calories being easier than points. For me it keeps it simple, which is what I need. Thanks for your comment. – Tammy

  5. I started using myfinesspal when i had to keep track of my sodium intake to lower my blood pressure. Using it helped me loose 10lbs and lower my bp by 10 points!! Great post. Thanks.

  6. My friend lost 80lbs in one year using the Fitness Pal. She looks great and feels 20 years younger. I am going to try this and see what happens. Got to make it happen this year!

  7. Melissa says:

    I do have a question: Where do I go on the MFP website to see the MBR and the BMI calculator? I’m on the website now and I can’t find it.

  8. I agree! Love MFP. It really was an eye-opener for me to see just how many calories I was consuming, thinking I wasn’t doing too badly. I learned so much from this app. Bottom line, it really is science/math. I, too, love the recipe feature, which has helped me to motidy some of my regular recipes — things like switching to low sodium beans in my chili, lower fat cheeses, etc. Don’t tell this to the MFP people, but I would gladly pay for this app. Thankfully, I don’t have to! I have been singing its praises to family and friends and while some seem to think it’s ‘too hard’ to deal with, others have had success and I love the feeling of paying it forward. So far, I’ve lost 13 pounds in 14 weeks, and still going!

    • wow that’s awesome I just started up with the app again. . I like eating regular foods and being able to track.

  9. I’m curious about how MFP decides what ratio of Protein, fat! and carbs comes in to play, can you answer that for me? Thanks!!!!

  10. How does MFP decide how much fat, carbs, and protein? THANKS!!!!

  11. There are SOO many entries for the same foods, and many have errors or omissions.

    its best to pick one, verify the numbers against the packaging and correct if they are wrong.

    but overall, MFP is 5 stars!

  12. OYS.. any chance you could do this for I am a flex users and swear by this site. Just found it more suitable for my needs. Love your blog and would love to pair the two.


  13. Don’t know if you know this, but there is a script you can install in your extensions on Chrome or on Mozilla firefox, and you can actually see your points on myfitnesspal. … pretty cool.

  14. I love My Fitness Pal! I have been using it for over 3 years. It’s a great tool and has really made a difference in my approach to eating. I am so much more mindful of portion control! It is so important to weigh and measure your food! So invest in a food scale. It’s a life changer! The forums can be very entertaining. There’s a lot of derp, but there are great people that have walked the same path and have been successful that can help!

  15. Thanks for this. I use MFP for a while now, my Hubby uses it as well. I use the recipe creator a lot and was wondering, if there is a way to share the recipe with my hubby’s MFP Account?
    Thanks a lot

  16. Great article! I’m a WW member and I just got into MFP to see the difference. It’s amazing how similar they are. My question is – how does MFP manage to keep their service free when WW charges close to $20 just for the online version?

  17. L Nicholson says:

    My problem using MFP is that if I’m to eat non-processed foods and its food I have made then I have to know its calorie and fat content and there is no way for me to know that. It takes so much time to enter ingredient after ingredient and it makes the whole process far too frustrating. And even when I am making something from a box I have to sit down and log everything on the box. I truly don’t have that kind of time. Until there is a way to log what I eat with reasonable assumptions of the calories and fat to choose from this app is useless to me.

  18. I have a question about tracking and I’ve looked through a bunch of posts and discussions but I don’t see it addressed anywhere (or maybe I missed it). It’s this: do you also track when you go off course? Do you list everything you eat no matter what? And if so, isn’t that really hard?!?

    My big problem with consistency is that I get embarrassed or ashamed when I deviate from the plan, so I just stop tracking when this happens and say I’ll start again tomorrow. Sometimes, “tomorrow” doesn’t come for days or weeks … Or months or years. I hope I’m not alone in this. What’s a good mind game or strategy to get around it?

  19. Thank you for introducing me to this app! How do I use the Recipe Builder feature?!


  1. […] This is one of the first questions that people ask me when they want to start losing weight. Everyone is different so it hard for me to give one set of rules when it comes to calories and nutrition. Basically, you need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. When I first started out I used the free online calorie and exercise journal My Fitness Pal (MFP) to figure out the amount calories I needed to consume for weight loss. By answering some questions MFP will offer a guideline on the amount of calories you should eat every day to meet your goals. I suggest you start there. There are other online tools but that is the one I know best. Check out the post I wrote to help you get the most out of My Fitness Pal. […]

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