How Using MyFitnessPal Has Helped Me Lose 10lbs (so far)

How Using MyFitnessPal Has Helped Me Lose 10lbs Title Image of Laura Eating A Big Bowl of Turnip and Chickpea Hash

In 2017 I had a classic pear shaped body but overall my clothes fit comfortably and I felt healthy. However during the last 3 years I put on 10 lbs through a love for convenience food and a lack of enthusiasm to get active. As I’m only 5 foot it was an uncomfortable extra weight for me and my confidence nosedived as a result.

In April I decided that it was time to do something about it.

I began using MyFitnessPal to track my calories and macros, as well as committing to going out for a short run each day. It’s been slow progress and at times my weight has plateaued and fluctuated. However taking the slow, long term approach has begun to pay off. Two weeks ago I hit my initial goal weight and the week after I was amazed to see another couple of pounds disappear. My bloating has gone and I feel much more toned.

Before and After pictures of Laura's weight loss taken in April and July

I know that tracking calories and macros won’t be suitable for everyone, but this is how using MyFitnessPal has helped me lose 10lbs so far.

Taking Back Control

In April 2020 the UK was in lockdown and I was working from home. It was an opportunity for a fresh start. I started cooking all of my meals from scratch. I was using lots of vegetables, snacking on nuts and seeds and trying to avoid carbs like pasta and rice. It felt like I was eating really well, but the scales told a different story. My weight was creeping up and I couldn’t work out what I was doing wrong.

This is why I decided to try tracking my food for a bit to see if it would help.

Tracking what I was eating per day changed everything

Understanding calories

I logged into MyFitnessPal for the first time and entered my current weight and height and my goal weight. I set this at 8 stone which is more than I weighed 3 years ago. However losing half a stone felt like a mammoth task and I wanted an achievable first goal. MyFitnessPal calculated that to lose a pound a week, I should aim to eat 1,200 calories a day.

Now just to add a small disclaimer here: 1,200 is quite a low calorie intake. I need less calories overall because I’m so short. Height, current weight and activity levels will all play a part in your own recommended intake.

Here are some facts about weight loss that explain why MyFitnessPal set this goal for me:

  • A pound of fat equates to around 3,500 calories.
  • A safe amount of weight to lose per week is 1 to 2 pounds.
  • To lose a pound in weight you need to be in a 500 calorie deficit per day of what you’d be eating to maintain your current weight.

To lose a pound in weight, you need to be in approx 500 calorie deficit per day

With my goal calories set, I entered in what I’d eaten that day, convinced that I’d been very good. However the homecooked dinner that I’d thought was really healthy (curried tofu wraps in wholewheat tortillas) totalled 1,298 calories all on its own. This was a lightbulb moment. No wonder my weight was heading in the wrong direction; I was completely underestimating what I was actually consuming.

This is why using an app to accurately track and plan my calorie intake works for me. It replaces guesswork with clear facts and as a result I make well informed choices.

Getting Started Takes Time

As I’m eating all meals at home currently and favour home cooking over ready meals, I have to input all of my recipes into the app from scratch, ingredient by ingredient.

This involves a considerable amount of weighing and also getting used to calculating fractions! In most cases I can just scan a barcode and someone else has already added that ingredient to the database, but often the measurements aren’t recorded in the same way as the recipe and so you have to convert them to fit.

It is most definitely time consuming at first. However I soon got into the swing of it and I’m now up to 50 recipes. This helps me to meal plan as on any given day I can see how many calories I have to play with and what meals will fit.

A good time saving tip is to batch cook your meals and then measure them out into individual portion sizes to freeze. This is a lifesaver for days when you don’t want to cook but still want to have some go to healthy meals that you know fit into your plan.

Small Tweaks Make A Big Difference

Another major benefit to inputting recipes into the app from scratch is that I can immediately see where there are unnecessary calories that I can cut out. I have adapted a lot of recipes that I used to eat before counting calories so that I can enjoy them still.

Cutting your portion of rice by 20% or reducing the oil from a tablespoon to a teaspoon can make a big difference without compromising on the taste or how full you feel

Understanding Macros

MyFitnessPal also splits what you’re eating into the percentage of Carbs, Protein and Fat, otherwise known as your macros. It recommends what percentage and amounts you should aim for each day.

Technically you could use all of your calories on McDonalds and beer and still lose a bit of weight if you’re in deficit. However I’ve learned that eating nutrient dense foods helps to keep me full and avoid cravings. On the other hand when I eat junk foods it takes up a huge chunk of my fat allowance for little nutritional benefit, decimates my calories and I’m hungry two hours later.

I should point out that when recording food and drink in the app, you can’t rely on these values as being 100% accurate. However they should be close enough for most people’s needs.

I realised early on that I wasn’t eating enough carbs which surprised me!

By aiming to hit my macro percentages I’ve seen really positive results. I realised early on that I wasn’t eating enough carbs which surprised me! A great deal of my calories were in fact being wasted on too much cooking oil (pure fat). Now that I’ve adjusted my meals to balance this out, I feel full for longer and have more energy to exercise.

Although the MyFitnessPal app recommended a 50% carb / 30% fat / 20% protein split for me, I’ve tweaked this after some research. I aim for 20% fat and 30% protein now as I’m exercising more. My new goal is to focus on toning up and building lean muscle.

The 'Recipes, Meals & Foods' screen of MyFitnessPal on the mobile app, which helps you plan your meals to help lose weight effectively | Using MyFitnessPal to lose weight

I often plan out my meals a few days in advance and sometimes I’ll find that the combinations of food I plan to eat one day would work out to be particularly fat or carb heavy. If so, I might swop the dinners around on two days to balance it out better.

Nutrients

The nutrients in what you’re eating get broken down too. Again these values aren’t 100% accurate. However it’s still a good guide and by keeping an eye on them I noticed that my iron intake was consistently low. As a result I started taking a supplement. This has helped me stave off several migraines – an unexpected but welcome benefit.

Exercise

I can’t put my weight loss 100% down to tracking what I’m eating. I have also been running too. However I’ve linked MyFitnessPal to my Garmin watch so that the activity pulls through and have found that this gives me extra incentive to carry on running! I can see the effect it’s having on my calorie input and output.

I was advised not to eat those extra calories though. If you have the premium version of the MyFitnessPal app you can actually switch off the setting that adjusts your daily allowance. I just use the free version so it’s a case of ignoring them!

Things I’ve Learnt About Calorie/Macro Counting

Mobile phone screen of the app showing a recipe I have input | Using MyFitnessPal to lose weight
  • You need patience to track your calories daily. Being in lockdown has helped with this, but it can be hard when in social situations. Stick with it, because you will reap the benefits in the long run.
  • It’s important to be honest. On one day I went over on my calories. Seeing the counter turn red made me want to delete some of the food out of the diary! However that’s just denial and won’t help you. It is still useful to track those days as it helps you to learn what works for you. Use the weekly average view to see how you could plan the rest of the week. This can help bring you back on track overall.
  • Your weight will fluctuate! Around my period I carry extra weight which is natural and isn’t down to anything I’m doing wrong. It all evens out in the end. Concentrate on the big picture and don’t get too disheartened if the numbers don’t always go down. In the long term, they will.
  • Things get more complicated if you are cooking for more people. I tend to weigh the whole dish, then divide that number by four to get the individual serving amount. Then I dish mine up first so that it’s accurate. I cheat and eyeball the other portions so that my family’s food doesn’t go cold!
  • Eating out or at friends/family can be tricky. Plan ahead by looking at the restaurant menu and see if the items are recorded in MyFitnessPal already. Bring a dish to social events or, if you’re comfortable enough doing so, ask for the recipe. That way you can enter it into MyFitnessPal later. Ultimately relax, log what you can and adjust your allowance across the remainder of the week to compensate.

One of the features I like is that you can submit your diary at the end of each day. It then tells you what you’ll likely weigh if ‘every day was like today’. What is equally good is that if you under-eat, you get a good telling off!

Any Questions?

I hope you’ve found this bumper post on using MyFitnessPal helpful. In the coming months I’ll be sharing some of my 1,200 calories per day recipes and meal plans.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please let me know in the comments or tweet me @lovedbylaurac

LovedByLaura

Lifestyle & vegan food blogger
Peterborough | UK
Cats seem to like me

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