Can An App Really Help You Lose Weight?

My Fitness Pal is a free app that I utilize daily to record my food and exercise. Not only does it help tweak my diet, but I’ve found the daily articles and recipes to be extremely helpful too.

Today, for example, I read an article written by Kim Westerman titled, “Losing Weight When You Physically Can’t Exercise: Doreen’s Journey.” Doreen used My Fitness Pal to log her meals. I’ve also benefited from logging my food and exercise each day in my quest to reach my fitness goals.

I, too, have experienced issues with mobility over the last ten years because of injuries, arthritis, and a couple of surgeries. I also have an acquaintance who is in even worse shape than I am, so I hoped that the article would prove to be an interesting and motivating read. It was.

SO I’M OVERWEIGHT—WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

I think what many people don’t realize is that obesity is far more detrimental to one’s health than they might think. Everyone pretty much knows that obesity can cause heart attacks or clogged arteries. But the very fact that someone is obese may bring on nasty metabolic changes, which in turn can cause diabetes, chronic inflammation, and arthritis.

New research suggests that it’s not the stress on the joints that causes arthritis, it’s the metabolic changes caused by an over-abundance of body fat. That was definitely an eye-opener.

It took being diagnosed as pre-diabetic in May 2015 to get me started on the road to fitness. I knew my body could only handle minimal impact exercise, so I took up swimming and water aerobics to build up my strength and flexibility. I cut my sugar intake drastically, ate better, and lost a little weight. I began going to the gym. But as the months went by, I found my weight loss was unbelievably slow and frustrating.

In July 2015, a friend recommended My Fitness Pal to me. I downloaded the app on my mobile devices and have been using it ever since. I heartily recommend it. So far, I’ve lost 61 pounds. Yes, I still have more body fat to lose, but I now have normal glucose levels. And that’s a big win for me!

Most people go on a diet to look better. But I’ve discovered that it was more helpful to consider looking good as a happy byproduct of losing weight. The true motivation for me to lose body fat and to gain muscle was to regain mobility, avoid diabetes, and increase my longevity.

I’M THIN—WHY DO I NEED MFP?

But what if you don’t want to lose weight—should you still use the MFP app? The short answer is yes.

You may think you’re eating a healthy balance of macros and micros, but nine times out of ten, you’ll find there’s something in your diet that needs tweaking. Most people that log their food are amazed how much sugar, fat, sodium, and calories they actually consume. And are you getting enough iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C? Usually the answer is a resounding no.

You won’t know the answers to your questions until you log your food into an app such as My Fitness Pal.

MORE ABOUT MFP

MFP doesn’t differentiate between ADDED sugars and what is naturally found in food. Since food labels do not reflect that information yet, MFP can’t either. Unfortunately, it’s the same with B vitamins. I’m hoping that once labels are improved, MFP will incorporate that information into their food analysis.

It’s important to note that if you’re eating clean and sticking to fruits, vegetables, and dairy, there will be naturally occurring sugars in those foods. Those are not inherently bad sugars. (However, if you’re needing to manage blood glucose, there are extra steps you need to take to ensure there are no untoward spikes, such as sticking to low glycemic load foods.) I always eat protein with every meal or snack to help my body deal with naturally occurring and added sugars.

One of the real dangers to healthy eating is consuming processed foods that are almost always laden with added sugar and sodium, not to mention additives, preservatives, and food coloring.

But there’s another danger that is often overlooked by even those who consider themselves to be clean eaters: adding too much sugar or salt to what otherwise would have been a healthy meal.

For instance, when I began making my homemade vegetarian soups, I diligently logged all the ingredients. To my surprise, I discovered that I was using entirely too much salt. It sure didn’t taste too salty!

So I cut back drastically on the salt and threw in a lot more spices to give my soups more flavor. I also add one or two tablespoons of Bragg’s nutritional yeast to each bowl of soup for additional B vitamins and flavor. I’m not a fan of nutritional yeast’s taste except in my homemade soups—that’s where I think it adds greatly to my veggie soups’ savoriness.

A friend of mine has strict dietary requirements for his various ailments, and he’s always prided himself that he’s been eating clean for years. However, he was adding two tablespoons of maple syrup to his daily breakfast of oatmeal and berries. Maple syrup is sugar. Even though he was eating egg whites with his breakfast, he still was consuming a big load of simple carbs each morning. This practice was detrimental to his health goals.

I advised him to stick to steel cut oats, not rolled, to lay off the maple syrup entirely, and to add a tablespoon of chia seeds instead. The chia seeds provide antioxidants, as well as healthy fats which help slow absorption and keeps you feeling fuller longer. That’s what I do, and even though I consider myself to be a recovering sugar addict, I’ve found I don’t miss the sugar in my oatmeal at all.

BUT ISN’T IT A HASSLE?

I wasn’t sure I wanted to log my food and exercise. I had tried keeping a food diary on paper many years ago, and I had hated it. But by using the app, the experience has proven to be fairly hassle-free and far more rewarding than I had assumed. I’ve been logging my food for over 600 days now. I think I can safely say that it’s a good habit that I’ve acquired.

Try MFP for a month. It’s free. And what can you lose, except those bad habits that have prevented you from being the healthiest you’ve ever been?

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14 thoughts on “Can An App Really Help You Lose Weight?

  1. New Journey says:

    Good morning my California friend…..I have been using Fat Secret App….I am going to go check out my fitness pal….maybe a change will help light the fire again…..doesn’t help my arthritis is kicking my ass this week….been taking way more medication than I want….but I love you post….great information…thanks….I am glad your doing so well..and blogging is a big part of helping me to focus on weight loss…..thanks and have a fantastic weekend….xxkat

    Liked by 1 person

    • fithotbod says:

      Sometimes a change can help. I’ve not used other apps to track my food and exercise, so I can’t compare. I’ve used Fooducate to check on items before buying them. They grade them—it’s amazing how many foods get a D! I learned a lot about additives, such as carrageenan. You can log your food there too, but I preferred MFP for that. I really like MFP articles and recipes too.

      I go to Chūze Fitness… I use their app to gain points etc. My cardio workouts that I log into MFP are picked up by the Chūze app for points. So it can work with other apps sometimes too.

      LMK what you think of MFP.

      Like

      • New Journey says:

        Most time I try to do the 3 ingredient rule and only eat foods with 3 or less ingredients….I am having trouble finding real cream for my coffee here, in Calif I had clover dairy to use, it was strictly milk and half & half no additives….there is a sprout store coming so I am excited about that…the only other food I eat that is more than 3 ingredients is the tortillas….they have only 50 calories each so that’s a plus….I taught my husband to read ingredient list, he was amazed its a real awakening when your really start learning what is in the food……I just down loaded it and will check it out now….I will let you know….xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • fithotbod says:

        I hadn’t thought of that! The three-ingredient rule… I’m assuming you’re talking about packaged foods. I don’t count ingredients but I read the labels. If a food has pure ingredients only—real food—no chemicals etc., then I’ll buy it. And packaged foods cost more, too. It’s healthier to buy the ingredients and make it yourself.

        So many people don’t read labels, or they misunderstand them. One friend was buying drinks with potassium sorbate added, thinking the stuff was fortified with potassium. In reality, they were unwittingly buying drinks laden with preservatives. Some studies show that potassium sorbate can be harmful when consumed in excess.

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      • New Journey says:

        Its amazing at the crap they put in food and sell….yes the 3 ingredient rule is for processed food….I have been looking at protein bars…I do not eat a lot of meat and I have trouble getting my daily protein….they are so full of other “stuff” guess I will go back to adding more beans back in to my diet….my husband never read labels before meeting me….I watch him shake his head as he is reading….he said he had no idea….happy week my friend….xxkat

        Liked by 1 person

      • fithotbod says:

        I know what you mean. I like the taste of most protein bars because they taste a bit like candy bars. I’ll eat that if I’m craving a candy bar, but not for protein. Do you eat dairy and eggs? I love plain Greek yogurt… it’s got lots of protein. I pile a bunch of unsweetened strawberries on top, maybe add a dash of cinnamon—yum! And I got got lots of protein and vitamin C

        Do you like split peas? I make split pea souls. All veggie. And lentils are a good source of protein too.

        I finally posted today about the joys of spring, which include getting out into the fresh air. This blog post is vastly different from my usual post as it concentrates mainly on photos. All photos were transformed in Painnt. I hope you’ll like them. I love photography.

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      • New Journey says:

        I don’t eat eggs, but already have greek yogurt almost daily and get most of my protein from beans/legumes….I was a vegan before the term was ever used….LOL I do eat some meat now, but I can go weeks without it….I love beans of all kinds, however they are really high in calories…so I watch how much…I have learned that I am not able to eat protein bars, the sugars are like herion to me….so they are out….I just need to buckle down and mind what I eat….LOL I lived on soy, tempeh, and all that stuff for years….I try to stay away from soy since it makes estrogen….not good for me….I will pop over to your blog and read your lovely words….xxkat

        Liked by 1 person

      • fithotbod says:

        I eat mozzarella cheese for protein. 3 oz. Or I’ll add Feta or Parmesan to foods. Lowest in sat fat. Peanut butter has protein too. It’s best to eat real peanut butter not peanut butter spread. But I hate it when the oil separates. Someone told me they store it upside down, turn it on its side, roll it around… I haven’t tried that yet. I make sure the spread doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it. Jif Natural doesn’t have HFCS but it has palm oil and a touch of molasses. Non GMO. Protein 7g for 2 Tbsp.

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      • New Journey says:

        I used to get my peanut butter fresh ground…..don’t have that available to me here…so just avoid it…never buy anything with any type of fructose, sucrose or anything with sugar added….well lets say I try not to…I am a huge label reader…I have been adding mozzarella to my salads…yumm not a big feta man….will eat it if someone else adds it to a salad or dish…LOL I find a tongue depressor works well to remix the peanut butter…or end of a wooden spoon….I love peanut butter and apple….its best I don’t buy peanut butter, I just eat it…LOL hope your having a grand week….xxkat

        Liked by 1 person

      • fithotbod says:

        Lol! I tend too eat too much peanut butter. I’ll have to try those suggestions. The molasses added is less than 2% to the Jif Natural, so it’s very minimal.

        Like

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