Eat More. Do Less.

Why MyFitnessPal Should Charge a Fee

Knowing how much you are eating is an important part of a good exercise and nutrition plan. This is made simpler with a nutrition tracking program, the most popular of which is MyFitnessPal (MFP). Recent changes and the addition of a premium service have been a little controversial according to online discussions I’ve read. While many are not happy, let me tell you why this is a good idea.

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Previous Limitations Of MyFitnessPal

Keeping track of your macros (protein, fat, carbohydrates) and total calories is important if your goal is to lose fat, add muscle, or even maintain your current weight. When you know what you’re eating you can make modifications to achieve your goals.

I’ve seen people who think they eat a lot of calories while being unable to add muscle start logging food only to realize they’ve been under eating. I’ve known even more people who are shocked at just how many calories they eat once they start tracking it accurately. I know when I began entering meals like I used to eat I was stunned that I was only 100 pounds overweight at my highest. It should have been much more! If you’ve never tracked calories but think you know how many you eat…you’re most likely WAY off.

MyFitnessPal makes this much easier, however, there have been several limitations that needed improving.

Setting Specific Macros

Many people are learning to eat in a specific way that goes beyond just counting calories. Not only do I have calorie goals, but I know how many of each come from fat, protein, and carbs. By adjusting these numbers I can lose fat, add muscle, increase energy, etc. (BTW…if you are letting MFP set these macros for you, stop it and contact me because you’re probably way off on your numbers).

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Previously, MFP would only let you choose percentages, and in five percent increments. For example, my MFP will only let me set goal carbs at 362g (50%) or 389g (55%), but my target is 380g (52.5%). You can look at what you’ve recorded for the day, but if you want to know how much you have left, you have to calculate it yourself after every entry. Not efficient.

Inaccurate Info

The vast majority of food items are those added by MFP members. Something you’ll see regularly is the information is wrong. A item with 10g protein and 1g fat should have 49 calories, but it may be listed as 40 calories. This can lead to a big discrepancy when you eat 3,000 calories a day and 21,000 calories a week.

Macro Cycling

A key strategy of Eat to Perform and a growing number of nutritional programs involves macro cycling, or eating different macros on different days to match your training program. For instance, on workout days I eat 380g of carbs, but on rest days that changes to 125g of carbs so that I burn fat instead.

MFP only allows you one set of macros. On the other day, you have to know your numbers and keep track of remaining ones on your own. The other option is to create a meal you log on rest days that deducts the calories out of your plan.

The latter option doesn’t give you an accurate picture of what’s going on. It will wither make it look as if you ate more than you really did (on rest days) or that you didn’t eat enough if you don’t add that fake meal.

Why A Premium Option Is Important

A Better Service
One of the things MFP has started doing is verifying entries. You’ll notice some items have a green box next to them. These have been checked to make sure the numbers add up correctly which makes your entries more accurate. Doing so takes time and people…which takes money!

Support
MFP is more complex and robust that you might realize, especially if you have recently been introduced to the service. When you need help, someone has to be available to help you and this takes…wait for it…money! Paying for premium services and functionality is increasingly common in the online world and often referred to as “freemium”. Think of all the free apps you have that then have in-app purchase options. Same thing here. You can use it at no charge, but if you want more options and better service, you have to pay for it. Simple. Fair.

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Sustainability
How long would your company survive if it didn’t charge for products or services? While MFP has ads, how many have you clicked on? Of those, how many have you purchased? Thought so. I like MFP and I’d like them to not go out of business, so paying something makes perfect sense. As a company grows and become popular, costs almost always out-pace advertising revenue.

Value Earned
If something is useful and helps you, there is no reason a company shouldn’t charge something for it, at least for extended benefits.

I spent days and numerous hours overs last week building a test environment for the new version of this site. It is an incredible pain to facilitate. On Sunday I found a plugin that did the same thing it took me hours to do in only a few minutes and it worked flawlessly. It was a free service whose developer said, “if you find it useful, we’d appreciate a donation”. I sent them some money because it made my life SO MUCH EASIER and they deserved it for building a great product.

Because MFP sets a price instead of asking for a donation doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be paid for what they have created. You can get television service for free, but you probably pay a hefty price for cable or satellite. Maybe those services aren’t worth the price to you but $8 for Netfilx is acceptable. You pay for them based on the value you perceive.

Should MFP cost $10 a month or $50 a year (huge annual discount)? Well, that’s for the market to determine. (I will tell you that before they launched this they did extensive testing on price points so they know what the market will bear.) If the paid features aren’t worth it to you, there is still a free option. But if you want all the features and premium services, don’t complain that they have the nerve to charge you for it! That’s called capitalism.