How to Use MyFitnessPal for WLS

Steph Wagner

March 9, 2017

Disclaimer: all the information provided on foodcoach.me is meant to be used as education and information, not medical advice. Please visit your surgeons office annually.

If you are a weight-loss surgery (WLS) patient, or interested in WLS…you’ve probably heard a little about MyFitnessPal.

Just like all food journal phone apps, it can be intimidating to get started. I receive so many emails in a week and truth be told, I wanted to write this post because it’s something I’m often typing out in email form!

Whether you are getting back on track and need help finding your way OR you are a new WLS patient and trying to figure out where you are with protein…MyFitnessPal can be a wonderful tool in your journey.

The key to learning from your food journal is to ignore the calories and focus on the ratio of your protein to carbs to fat.

I’ll get more into this in a moment, but wanted to start right off the bat with that piece of information.

If you don’t already have the app, you’ll want to go to your App on your smart phone and search “MyFitnessPal.” You’ll noticed it’s actually called “Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker.” Don’t worry, you DO have the right app if it’s the blue jumping guy…

 

Once you’ve gotten your dude downloaded, you have to make an account and all that jazz.

Note: if you’ve had MyFitnessPal for a while…make sure it’s up to date!

Now let’s take a walk through a photo guide on some of the areas of the app…

When you get logged in you’ll see a home screen such as this. It’s almost like a “newsfeed” and will have articles and information on there. If you have a FitBit and connect it to your MyFitnessPal app you’ll see your tracker steps on this screen too. 

You’ll want to notice the bottom home row. You’ll use the “diary” option the most where you journal your foods, but first we want to start at the “More” tab to set our goals.

 

My recommendation for weight-loss (and specifically for WLS patients) is to set the protein goal to 50%, carbs to 20% and fat to 30%. The set goals on the app will be very different, so we need to change them. After you’ve click on more, you’ll click on “Goals”

 

In the “Goals” you’ll see the option to change the “calorie and macronutrient goals.” Once you’re in that tab…you click on carbohydrates to change the goals on your macros. (Macros is a cool way to say macronutrients. The three macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates and fat)

 

Calories are far too hard to make a goal and there is too much that goes into calories for post-ops….I’m just not a fan of calorie counting. You can read more about that here. But we DO want to change the “macros” shown below.

 

Once you’ve clicked the checkmark, your goals are all set. Hit the back arrow a couple times until you see the home row again.

Looking back at your home row, when you click on “diary” you will be taken to ‘today’ where you can start logging your meals. Scroll down to one of the meals and click the plus sign “+ add food”

 

Next your “library” of food options will come up. If you haven’t used the app much, you’ll be using the top search bar often. You can either type in the food name “chicken breast” or you can use the barcode scanner (the image to the far right of the search bar.) If you eat something with a scanner code (ex: cottage cheese) you can use the camera on your phone to take a picture of the barcode and it’ll automatically go into your app.

What’s awesome about the food library is that the more you use it, the more it will be catered to you. Food journaling gets FASTER and EASIER the more you do it. 

I also LOVE the “multi-add” option. Click on “Multi-add” in the bottom right corner and you can add several foods at once into your journal. Since my breakfast is 90% of the time the same thing…I can journal breakfast in 2 seconds.

 

At the END of the day, take a look at how you did with your goals. I recommend the end of the day because throughout the day your “pie chart” will look goofy. The end of the day gives us a bigger picture of how your macros really shook out.

To do that within your food diary, scroll to the very bottom until you see the two black boxes that include one for “Nutrition”

 

When you click on that box, you then want to make sure at the top of the screen you are on that “Macros” tab.

 

Since we already set your goals to 50% protein, 20% carbs and 30% fat…we can now compare how you did!

If it wasn’t what you thought, now is the time to go back through your journal and identify if something was higher in fat than you realized or if you ended up with too many carbs because of a protein bar and some fruit. This is the BEST way to make simple changes in your diet that will pay off with your weight loss.

I certainly hope that helps! For more questions, I can be reached at steph@foodcoach.me

All my best to you and yours in health!

Steph :)

3 thoughts on “How to Use MyFitnessPal for WLS”

  1. I have a Garmin fitness tracker and the site sent me to the my fitness pal page to track food. I had a bariatric sleeve 3 years ago after gaining almost 100 lbs after complications from a brain injury has wrecked havoc with my endocrine system. Every time my thyroid goes out of whack I gain 5-10 pounds and have an extremely difficult time losing it. I’ve found that I have to go back to protein drinks, high protein low sugar yogurt- pretty much post surgery meals to lose it. I realized after I read this article that my nutrition settings need to be changed. However it appears that I would have to upgrade to change them as I have tried several times. I just want to see if you or anyone knows the answer to this question; I would think since I purchased the Garmin and they have the business relationship with the website (app as well but I track via my computer) that we would have access at least to change our nutrition information. If I use the app on my phone will that make a difference? Thanks for your help!

  2. @Brenda That is a great question…I’m most familiar with the app and haven’t tried to change the macros via the website. It should not be a paid upgrade though- at least not for the app. I’ve never utilized a paid account with MyFitnessPal but use the app often and change macros for patients often. I hope that helps! I had a brain injury after a car accident in 2012…wishing you all the best in your overall health. Thank you for commenting and I’m happy to answer any other questions by email at steph@foodcoach.me

  3. Thanks Steph…this article was very helpful and has gotten me off to a good start.

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