Is MyFitnessPal Causing Eating Disorders?

I came across THIS interesting study that looked at just over 100 people diagnosed with eating disorders and their use of MyFitnessPal.
Before I give my opinion, here are the two most jaw dropping conclusion.
  1. 75% of the participants reported using MyFitnessPal
  2. Of the group using MyFitnessPal, 73% reported that using the app CONTRIBUTED to their eating disorder.

What this suggests is that apps used to “track macros” and the like are widely used in populations with eating disorders, and that more research needs to be done into the direct or indirect relationships between the two.

Now with that said..

MyFitnessPal is NOT CAUSING eating disorders.

I’ve used it in the past, and I’ve had clients use it as well and do to this day.

But this does make me strongly reconsider who and how I might use it as a tool.

I’ve often spoke about my negative opinion on “tracking macros” as a LONG TERM strategy to a healthy lifestyle.

It can be a FANTASTIC tool to get people to be aware of how much calories and macronutrients are in the foods they are consuming, but it CAN lead to obsessive behavior.

ESPECIALLY if you use the extremely low calorie estimates that it will provide you if you put your goal is to lose 2lbs per week.

Considering that the labels of foods and restaurant estimantes can be off be as much as 20% tracking those foods can be hit or miss anyway. Being off this much can lead to frustration when you don’t see the change the app tells you you should be achieving. You can start to feel like “It must be me.”

Also with macro tracking apps, I find that clients tend to lose sight of the big picture. For a well rounded diet that will not JUST produce bodyfat loss, but also improve hormonal levels, blood profile, and energy levels it’s important not to neglect fruits an vegetables that provide essential vitamins and minerals.

With apps like MyFitnessPal it’s easy to only focus on hitting a certain number of calories, carbs, protein, and fat without focusing on the quality of food in which they are coming from.

I’m not here to bash MyFitnessPal, but simply to point out some of the limitations or some of the underlying issues that aren’t commonly addressed.

Instead focus on the basics.

  1. Eat a lean protein at each meal
  2. Try to eat when you are hungry and stop before you are full
  3. Include a fruit or vegetable at every meal
  4. Eliminate the calorie containing beverages
  5. Includes healthy fats at each meal
  6. Save starchy carbs for the first meal of the day or after a workout.
  7. Allow yourself to eat some foods that are “off the plan” 10% of the time

If you are nailing those habits, THEN something like MyFitnessPal used in conjunction with a coach can be a good tool to help you fine tune the amounts to get the results you are looking for.

If you are interested in making a change in your health and fitness and improving your nutrition, we have a NEW PROGRAM kicking off April 16th. It last 6 weeks and leads right up to Memorial Day.

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