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Dieting is a serious issue for millions of people. Over half of the American populace is actively trying to lose weight. It’s not just the USA, either; approximately 46% of Britons are looking to shed a few pounds, and numerous countries in mainland Europe are dealing with similar weight-loss desires. Even countries you might not suspect have serious problems with the pounds – over 50% of the population in Mexico, Chile and Greece struggle with being overweight.
One of the most effective ways to combat weight gain is to count the calories and keep track of your intake, as well as your exercise, in a diet diary. The only problem is that you can’t take a diary everywhere – and so you might forget a meal here, or a snack there. MyFitnessPal solves the problem by having a presence everywhere – on your phone, your tablet or your PC.
Calorie Tracking Where You Are
Perhaps the biggest advantage of the MyFitnessPal free diet tracker, beyond the features we’ll talk about soon, is the number of platforms on which you can use it. There are MyFitnessPal apps for iPhone/iPad, Android and Blackberry. Windows Phone 7 is the only major mobile platform left out.
In addition to this, the MyFitnessPal website can be accessed online from anything with a web browser. Your account ties information between all of these platforms together, so you can count your calories during lunch at work on your smartphone, then finish up the day by counting dinner on your PC.
Massive Calorie Database
MyFitnessPal has been around for several years now, and since the introduction of the service it has constantly added new information to its food database. The database is easy to search and now includes over 750,000 items. The only food that isn’t commonly found on the datubase is food from local independent restaurants. If the restaurant is a chain, or if you’re eating something from the grocery store, you’ll find an entry for it in the MyFitnessPal database.
Once you’ve found what you’re looking for you can add it to your meal. MyFitnessPal is very flexible when it comes to adding food; you don’t have to pick one particular type of serving. You can also add servings in any multiplier of the base serving size. If you eat half a bagel, for example, no problem! Just search for the type of bagel you ate, and then enter .5 as the serving size.
If the food isn’t in the database, that’s also not a problem. You can always “quick-add” a given number of calories.
Tracking Your Progress
One problem that often trips up dieters is long-term calorie intake. Going crazy at a favorite restaurant can defeat an entire week’s work of careful, healthy eating – but without a clear way to track calories over time, a dieter may be prone to think “I met my goal six out of seven days, but I’m still not losing weight! What’s wrong?” That’s understandably frustrating.
MyFitnessPal keeps track of your daily calorie intake and provides information showing how you’re doing over time. It also provides information about how your current eating habits should impact your weight in the future.
When you start your MyFitnessPal account you are given a target calorie intake based on your current weight, your height, and the amount of weight you wish to lose each week. This information can be reviewed in the goals section, and helps you keep on track by reminding you that every calorie counts. Exercise is factored in as well, so you can see how your exercise program is impacting your weight loss.
Perhaps the coolest feature, and the most likely to keep you on track, is the social networking functionality. If you like, you can hook up MyFitnessPal to your Facebook or Twitter account. MyFitnessPal will automatically let friends know when you’ve met a goal. Being put on the spot like this can feel embarrassing at first, but if you can become comfortable with it, the additional motivation is great.
There is also an active forum community on the site, and the site provides “badges” and “tickers” that can be added to a forum post or a blog post. The badges can be used to show off an accomplishment, while the ticker actually updates over time to show how much you’ve lost.
MyFitnessPal is an excellent free calorie counter and diet tracker. You can input your calories from anywhere with your phone, you can track your progress and calculate your estimated weight loss, and even get your friends in on it! It really doesn’t get any easier than this.
What effective online methods do you use to lose weight? Let us know in the comments.