So you get the whole ethos around needing to be in a caloric deficit to lose fat. You understand that in order to create a caloric deficit, that naturally we have to count how many calories we consume versus the number of Calories we burn through simply living and activity. One of the most popular apps used to count calories around the world is MyFitnessPal. While it is really helpful, there are 7 common pitfalls that you need to avoid to maximize your fat loss.
Let’s jump in
- You get out what you put in – MyFitnessPal is only helpful if what you put in is accurate. If you are guessing weights of your food and drinks, you more than likely will underestimate your portion sizes. A normal serving of breakfast cereal for example may be 40g. However, most people will eat more than that in one sitting and will therefore underestimate the quantities leading to inaccuracy in total calories eaten that day. Never eyeball or guess. Always use a digital scales. If you are out to dinner, then you will have to make the best guess, but will need to accept that you possibly will underestimate and may not have the same deficit that week.
- Track the little Things – be sure to track the little things like oil, sugar, sweeteners, mayo, ketchup, butter etc. Even if you smear a small amount on a piece of bread and say to yourself , ‘ah, no need to track…sure it’s only a tiny bit’…track it. It all adds up over the week. Everything that you don’t track is eating into your deficit. So if you are finding that you’re not losing fat, then go back to basics. Measure everything! Remember no food is calorie free. If you aren’t bothered measuring it, then the solution is to not eat it. Simples.
- Choose MFP entries carefully – let’s say you fancy a BLT sandwich. You open MFP and key that in and up comes several entries that you can choose from and they vary widely on the calorie content. In this situation, it would be more helpful for you to break down your food into its constituent parts and track the ingredients individually. Then enter it as multiple ingredients or add to your MFP as a recipe.
- Liquids – you know what’s coming I’m sure! These must be tracked as well. So whether you take a dash of milk in your coffee or a drink of fresh fruit juice in the morning, it all needs to go into MFP. All the little dashes add up over the week and once again the deficit you think you are in, isn’t actually as big as you think. For Milk for example, you can measure out an amount that covers you for the day in the morning. I.e. for your hot drinks during the day and your cereal, and use that for the day. That means it’s all been tracked and you only had to measure it once. If it’s alcohol, you are better sticking to spirits as they have lower calories than beer, cider etc. add in how many drinks you are going to have BEFORE you go out.
- Check entries against labels – always do a quick scan of the nutrition label to ensure the MFP entry you have chosen is correct. The data in MFP is user generated. That means that entries can be completely inaccurate and may be missing a macro altogether like fibre for instance. Check the calories on the label per 100g and compare with that on the label. I always double check the protein, carb, fibre, sugar, fat, fibre and sodium. If the entry you have chosen is incorrect, then there are 2 solutions 1) Click report food and then fix the nutrition values on the next screen and then add to your food diary. 2) Add it as a new food to your personal foods list with the corrected values. 3) if there is no label and it’s something like an apple or egg, you are better off doing a quick search online. If you are in the UK, you can search the CoFID database. If you are based in the US, you can check the USDA Food Composition Databases. Then choose an MFP entry close to these or create a new entry. Also bear in mind, the little blue verified tick mark only means that the record is ‘complete’ not that it is entirely correct. Always check the label where possible.
- You always choose the lower calorie option when presented with a list of entries for a particular food group. Again, always check the label and if a label is not available always err on the side of caution and choose a medium to high calorie entry.
- Get into the habit of adding your food to MFP BEFORE you eat it. Research has shown that our accuracy in tracking weights of food etc decreases the longer you wait to input it.
Let me know in the comments of any pitfalls that you’ve found and shout out if these have helped you out below.