MyFitnessPal and a Sweet Question

I consider myself a fairly healthy eater.  Yesterday, out of curiosity, I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app, entered my height and weight, set it to “maintain current weight”, and recorded my exercise and food to see how I measure up nutritionally.

Here’s my report card from the end of the day:



I fell short in a few areas–fat, calcium, iron–and really nailed a few others–protein, fiber, and vitamins A & C.

What stuck out the most was that I’d exceeded their recommended sugar intake before lunch.  Hah!  What sugar bomb did I eat before noon, you might ask?  Blueberry muffin?  Cinnamon roll?  Nay.  I had a bowl of Kashi Go Lean cereal with blueberries, raw almonds, and unsweetened soy milk, coffee with the same unsweetened soy milk, and after working out, a banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter.  Somebody stop me; I’m out of control.  😉

This prompted me to do some research on sugar, and I found a lot of conflicting information.  From what I can tell, the recommended amount refers mostly to added sugar, rather that those occurring naturally in fruits and dairy products.  Why, then, doesn’t MyFitnessPal differentiate?  Two-three servings of fruit can easily put one over their limit!  On the other hand, with very limited knowledge of chemistry/biology/etc., my understanding is that our bodies cannot tell the difference–sugar is sugar.

So what do we do with that information?  I say (again, with very limited knowledge on the subject…this is purely my experience), take a step back, don’t hyper-focus on how many grams of this or that, and just eat real food.  I know there are many popular diets out there that limit (or eliminate) fruit, but are you really telling that a highly processed protein bar with who-knows-what as a sweetener is better for my body than something that grew from the earth?  I don’t buy it.  Intuitively, I just don’t buy it.  I feel certain that the benefits of eating an orange far outweigh the grams of sugar it contains.

I am not criticizing MyFitnessPal for this–it’s a helpful tool that prompted some research.  Near the end of the day yesterday, the app showed me that I’d fallen pretty short on fat, Vitamin A, calcium, and iron, so I made myself a kale salad with Balsamic vinaigrette (umm, raw kale is disgusting, but I muscled it down for the sake of my health. ;-))  That helped close the gap on most of those nutrients.

Ultimately, it all comes back to my very basic belief about nutrition–just eat real food.

Do you use the MyFitnessPal app?  What do you think about it?
Thoughts on sugar?

12 thoughts on “MyFitnessPal and a Sweet Question

  1. I have noticed this too! And it makes me crazy! I am over in sugar with MFP almost every single day. I have gotten to the point where I just ignore it. I ADORE fruit. I mean… I could survive on fruit alone and I probably “eat too much of it” – but I’m in the same camp, how can it be that bad for me? Adam told me once “Nobody got fat from eating too much fruit.” Which I think is true. Perhaps the sugar in fruit is keeping me from a super super svelte shape, but I don’t think that it’s causing me to gain weight – I just don’t buy it! Interesting post!

    • Haha I agree! If fruit (or, let’s be honest, dessert) is keeping me from looking like a body-builder, so be it. I love what Adam said too! I have a friend who lost a bunch of weight through WW, and while discussing this issue with another friend who was doing the low-sugar thing, said, “I didn’t get fat eating bananas.” It’s so true. I can point to five other things in my diet that are responsible for causing weight gain before fruit!

  2. I don’t use it regularly. Like everything it is just another tool , not the only tool, to help out. It’s great for keeping your food diary. I have no science background either, I just experiment on me. I would never say to eat a processed “health” bar over fruit. I am with you I will stick with real food but, limit my fruit. Truth be told lately, I have been getting a sweet craving, so, I have been popping grapes like crazy. Probably over doing it but, it is a fruit, right?

  3. That’s partly why I didn’t like the point system of WW – they revamped it requiring so many fruits and veggies, but I went to WW back in 1999 and the woman next to me used to eat sinckers ice cream bars for dinner because they had protein (nuts) and were only 8 points. Obviously eating roasted salmon, green beans and new potatoes for 8 points would be a much better option.

    That being said – 100% of sugars is under the umbrella of carbs – which as a diabetic, that’s the number that I look at – I take 1 unit of insulin for every 5 grams of carbs I eat before eating every meal. I use, but I think most of the free apps are pretty accurate. I wouldn’t worry too much! 😀

  4. I drink a fruit and spinach smoothie for breakfast everyday…when I put it into fitness pal I was so bummed that my sugar intake was over at breakfast, boo! It definitely makes you think twice about what you eat, but I’m with you-just eat real food (including cake, in moderation:))

  5. I noticed this too! I originally downloaded it out of curiosity and the sugar thing really threw me! My tasty fruits were putting me waaay over. I stopped using it after a couple of weeks because I felt like it wasn’t very effective/useful for me personally. Also, mine kept telling me that I should be eating like 500 less calories than doctor recommend to stay the same weight (5’5 and 120lbs). Super confusing. Might be good if you just use it lightly to track general food intake though!

    • I am having the same thoughts! The calories seem really low for me too–yesterday after recording my lunch, I had about 400 calories left for the whole day. I eat 400 calories BETWEEN lunch and dinner, so I’m just going to have to ignore that feature. I do like it to keep an eye on my vitamin intake…it’s encouraging me to eat more veggies!

  6. Pingback: Fitness Apps and Listening to Your Body | A Two Storey Home

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