At lunches hosted by fashion brands, the talk inevitably leads to latest diets and fad workouts—which of them works (instantly, preferably) and which doesn’t.
Women who were served plates of deconstructed fare would do further deconstruction—a fashion editor from a magazine set aside the julienned potatoes on her plate and speared the asparagus sticks instead.
A sliver of fish was cut from the block-sized portion and paired with the asparagus. “I have another dinner later and I need to save my calories or I might go over,” explained the fashion editor, as she looked down at her phone and started typing.
No, she wasn’t texting and eating, but was listing down her meal on My Fitness Pal, an app that helps you lose weight via simple calorie math: It counts the calories from food you eat and subtracts this from your daily calorie allowance, while calories burned from exercise is added back to your daily calorie allowance.
The free app asks you at the start how much weight you want to lose; from there it gives you a daily calorie cap based on several factors (physical activity, target date for weight loss).
For strict weight-loss diets, My Fitness Pal will usually put the daily calorie cap at 1,200 calories a day; eating less than that can actually derail the diet since your body will start stockpiling fat and energy as it goes into survival “anti-starvation” mode.
“It really works! I know a friend who lost 50 lbs using My Fitness Pal,” says another beauty editor who ate half a macaron and skipped the fruit tarts at a tea party.
Ideally, My Fitness Pal will work, not because it’s a magical app, but because it will make you fully aware of everything that you put in your mouth. If you think 1,200 calories sounds like a lot food, you’ll be surprised it isn’t so once you start plugging in your intake.
My Fitness Pal has an extensive database of food and its corresponding calorie count, thanks to its numerous users around the world.
Even Pinoy food—homemade and from popular chains—are already listed in the app. Celebrating someone’s birthday? Go easy on Amber’s pichi-pichi. One piece is reported by the app to be 50 calories. Eating three pieces would be like eating half a cup of steamed rice (120 calories) or a Bonchon chicken wing (1 wing, 145 calories).
Having an egg for breakfast? Whether fried or hard-boiled, eating just the whites will set you back 17 (hard-boiled) to 30 (fried) calories. But eat the yolk and you stand to gain 70 calories (hard-boiled) or 92 calories (fried egg).
Eating at a big-serving restaurant like Chili’s? It’s best to have someone to share your meal with, because some of the entrées on the menu exceed your entire daily calorie allowance (e.g, Chicken Crispers, with sauce and sides, 1 plate as served, is 1,510 calories).
Planning to celebrate September with moon cake? The palm-sized cake ranges from 800 to 900 calories.
Some of the calorie counts are estimations by users, so they’re not exactly accurate, but it at least gives you an idea of your daily calorie intake.
My Fitness Pal can be downright depressing, especially once you realize that your favorite snacks and meals could be deadly calorie bombs out to pump fat into your arms, hips, thighs and cheeks.
But you can always offset any heavy meals with exercise. Remember that exercising adds back allowed calories into your daily calorie intake, so if you plan to hit Spiral for dinner, make sure to pound the ground hard (jumping rope at a slow pace for 30 minutes burns 299 calories).
My Fitness Pal also serves as your critical mother/encouraging best friend in app form. At the end of the day, once you’ve listed down everything you’ve eaten, My Fitness Pal will leave you with a message that says, “If every day were like today, you’d weigh ‘x’ lbs in five weeks.”
If you’ve been behaving, this would probably be good news, but if you just went on a cronut binge, you might not want to see the number.
However, the app is also a great way to help you make sensible food choices. Do you really need a large soda to go with your popcorn, when you can get a smaller size instead?
Although you don’t have to abstain from your high-calorie favorites altogether, My Fitness Pal will convince you that you can’t eat everything in one day.
It also has a social network feature where you can add friends and choose to share your food diary with them; it can likewise track the weight you’ve lost.
My Fitness Pal promises though that your friends will never see how much you actually weigh; it’ll always be a secret between you and the app.
My Fitness Pal is a free download on the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android). There’s also a desktop version. Log on to www.myfitnesspal.com.