Meal Tracking App Showdown: MyFitness Pal vs Lose It!
I’m almost certain I’ve written about these two apps before, but almost doesn’t equal 100%. Plus, I’ve only just recently started comparing the two apps again, based on a post on /r/loseit over on Reddit. I’m pretty sure that the app and the subreddit are entirely unrelated. I’m going to try to keep this somewhat brief, and do a back-and-forth comparison of what each app offers.
Note that I’m focusing on the apps – and not the website versions.
The Home Screen
LoseIt!: As soon as you launch the app, you’re taken directly to your food diary page. All of the meals are visible, and when you start a new day you can see a breakdown of how many calories the app suggests you eat per meal.
At the bottom there are tabs pointing to “My Day”, “Log” (the selected tab), “Social”, “Goals”, and “Me”. There are options at the top to “Go Premium” and a breakdown of your calorie budget, calories consumed so far (“Food”), exercise calories, net calories, and how much you’re over/under.
There’s also a blue “+” button that lets you add food, exercise, or a weight update.
MyFitnessPal: The MFP app launches to your “Feed”, which starts with a summary of your calories remaining – Your goal – food +/- exercise = remaining calories. This is followed immediately by an option to add a status update, and then either an ad or an MFP article. On my feed today, I had an article, an ad, and another article before one of my status updates from yesterday.
There are no tabs immediately visible, but there’s a standard Android “Hamburger menu” with options to all of the app sections, and a similar “+” button to add a status, water, food, exercise, or weight update.
Winner: LoseIt! has a much better interface on startup. It takes me directly to the information I want – the food diary – and gives easily visible options for navigating the app. However that isn’t to say that MFP is ugly or unusable. The difference between the two is basically a 4/5 for LoseIt and a 3.5/5 for MFP.
LoseIt!: The main focus of the app, the Food Diary as mentioned gives you a breakdown of your daily goal and how many calories you have left at the top. Further down, each meal is broken down to Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, and exercise.
There’s a calorie budget for each meal – for example, I have 649 calories available for lunch, 973 for dinner, etc. I believe that the app has a formula to give different a percentage of your daily goal to each meal, giving more weight to larger meals such as lunch and dinner. I’m not 100% sure how it works but it adjusts your meal budgets as you enter foods in other categories.
There are “+” buttons beside each meal to allow you to quickly add a food to the desired category.
MyFitnessPal: The layout for MFP is very similar to LoseIt!. MFP does not show a calorie budget per meal, but has quick options to add food next to each category. There’s a “three dot” menu that lets you “Quick Add”, letting you add an entry strictly for calories (and more, if you subscribe to premium MFP). There are buttons at the bottom to add notes, and also to a Nutrition pie chart which shows you how your calories are divided between meals.
Winner: It’s a tie. The difference between the two apps is negligible and pretty much comes down to aesthetics. MFP might barely get the edge because you can customize your meals in the diary settings (I have a “Drinks” category in addition to the usual categories), but LoseIt! gains an edge for the suggested calories per meal being visible.
Spoiler: it’s a tie! Let me explain.
Both apps seem to have comparable databases – so far, I haven’t come across a food item that’s been in one database and not the other. This was my previous knock against LoseIt! – it didn’t have the same database as MFP. This doesn’t seem to be the case here. There have been a few occasions where I couldn’t find a specific food item, but it’s been missing in both databases.
MFP gets the edge for customization. I’ve noticed that it’s a lot easier to add food by specific weight (I use a food scale, so this is important). Most entries for MFP have an entry for “1 gram” or “1 mL” or something similar where I can enter 125 or something when I eat less (or more) than the suggested serving size.
On the other hand, LoseIt! has these options for some entries but not all. Most of the time your best bet is to play around with the measurements to get as close as you can. However, LoseIt! seems to have a better database for generic food items. Sometimes you don’t have a barcode to scan – it’s helpful to have a generic item to get a rough estimate.
At the end of the day, the true test is whether or not I’m tracking accurately. Here’s a breakdown of my entries from Monday through Wednesday.
You can see that LoseIt! tends to be higher (in Tuesday’s case, a LOT), but from what I’ve noticed, the difference between each individual entry is not significant. If I were forced to pick between the two databases, I’d probably go with LoseIt! – simply because it’s better to overestimate calories than to underestimate.
Another tie. Both apps have a pretty good array of apps that can connect and interact with each service. Most importantly, both apps support FitBit. The only difference is that MFP can write data to FitBit, but LoseIt! cannot. This is not a big deal.
Both apps treat the FitBit data a bit differently. By default, LoseIt! will not add calories burned by FitBit until you get to a certain threshold. It figures out how many calories you should be burning to exist, and then only starts adding exercise calories once you’re burning more than its formula determines.
MyFitnessPal does the same thing, but a bit differently. First, you need to enable negative calorie adjustments on the website. Otherwise, it will add ALL calories burned by FitBit, but this is inaccurate since it’s counting calories you burn by existing (BMR). MFP’s function is basically the same as LoseIt!, but depending on your overall activity, it either adds or subtracts exercise calories from your daily budget. So if you move less during the day, it will add calories; if you move more, it subtracts. You want to be on the subtraction side of things.
MFP gets a slight edge for having so many MORE services that connect to it, including Samsung Health. I don’t think that LoseIt! can connect to this service yet. But MFP also has a suite of UnderArmour apps because MFP is owned by UnderArmour. Still, not enough to give it a win.
I really hate to do this, but I’m going to have to cal a tie. I’ve only been using both together for 4 days now, and I haven’t been able to choose a clear winner. If I were told I had to uninstall one app and fire it into the sun, I would probably drop LoseIt! But that’s because I have a longer history with MFP.
But it’s not that easy either, because LoseIt! has less intrusive ads. This makes a difference from time to time, because lately MFP has been serving some inappropriate ads (some high-calorie Starbucks drinks appear in some people’s feeds).
If I were to recommend an app for someone just starting out, I think I would have to say LoseIt! I think that in the long run, the folks at LoseIt! have more vested interest in weight loss and providing useful information without hiding features in a premium version.
In the end, if you were thinking of changing apps – I say go with what works for you. I’m still giving both apps a good trial period before I finally decide, but I will definitely be thinking about my app showdown today before I do.