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Counting Calories Works!

My experience using myFitnessPal.

Photo of Mithra Vankipuram
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I began using myFitnessPal to just understand how many calories I was consuming. I was found that I was simply consuming too many calories. I then followed myFitnessPal's recommendation for losing a pound a week. I had to stay under 1310 calories per day! That sounded crazy low. I asked my doctor if that was okay and she said it was fine, especially for a person that rarely exercises. I didn't lose any weight the first 3 weeks (didn't gain any either). Then I dropped 5 pounds fast bringing me to losing a pound a week. I have hit a 145 plateau. This makes me think that weight loss in general has periods of flat progress. One should not get demotivated and slip up during this time.

Here are some things I learnt in general from calorie counting:

1. Calorie dense foods like "innocent" croissants can blow up your day. Oats in the morning is your friend.

2. Breakfast is SO important. It simply sets the mood for the rest of the day.

3. Variety is important. Eating oats all the time can be boring. But replacing it with avocado toast can be refreshing and delicious.

4. Being good all day means I can have that drink at the end of the night. That's something to look forward too. Treats!

5. Routines are key. I usually slip up over the weekend because I missed my routine.

Here are things I liked about myfitnesspal:

1. It has a fairly good database of foods

2. Mobile interface for tracking on the go worked pretty well

Things I didn't like about myfitnesspal:

1. It was too busy. For a beginner like me, I just want straight up calorie counting. I really did not need carb / protein / fat break ups. Also as an indian vegetarian getting protein numbers up were very difficult!

The literature is sort of divided on this. Eating calories I just worked out didn't work for me. I just made poorer choices because I felt like I was rewarding myself. Sticking to my limit always worked for me. 

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Photo of Shane Zhao

Thanks for sharing these lessons learned Mithra! Looking forward to where these insights will lead in the Ideas Phase. In the meantime, you might like to check out this research post on the importance of monitoring what and how we eat: