Why MyFitnessPal drives me crazy

While I am not a big fan of food diaries as a long term tool, they can be useful for a number of reasons in the short term.  For example, if you are trying to build a new habit say of eating fewer carbs, tracking your intake for awhile can be useful. Or, if you are training for an event like I am training to climb a mountain in July, you can ensure that you are getting enough protein and carbs to support continued progress while ramping up training. The food diary I have been using is called MyFitnessPal. It has a great iPhone app, is now owned by Under Armour and it integrates with a number of exercise and fitness trackers.

Why a warning for Saturated Fat and not Sugar?

Why a warning for Saturated Fat and not Sugar?

What I don’t understand about MyFitnessPal, however, is their notification or warning system.

Selective Warnings

If I add a tablespoon of Coconut Oil to my daily food diary, I will get a warning notification that says: “This Food is High in Saturated Fat” with no explanation (see photo). A tablespoon of Coconut Oil has about 14 grams of Fat, mostly saturated, and 130 calories according to MyFitnessPal. If however, I add a Snickers Bar to my daily food diary, I get no yellow notification regarding Saturated Fat even though the amount of Saturated Fat is similar. What’s the difference?

Why No Warning for Sugar?

Additionally, a Snickers Bar contains 33 grams or 132 calories of sugar. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reduced its recommended daily intake of sugar for a normal weight adult to 25 grams of sugar (this is per day remember). The Snickers Bar represents 132% of the recommended daily intake of sugar in one bar but there is no warning that says “This Food is High in Sugar”. Why not?

Is Saturated Fat Really A Problem

The next question is why does MyFitnessPal even have warnings for Saturated Fat when recent studies have shown that it is not as harmful as once thought and apparently doesn’t increase the incidence of heart disease. According to a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease, there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD (Coronary Hearth Disease) or CVD (Cardiovascular Disease). Additionally, where the Saturated Fat comes from can be very important. Does it come from industrial beef or grass fed beef, industrial pork or organic coconut oil? There is no difference according to MyFitnessPal. More on eating meat HERE.

Sugar is Really the Problem

Meanwhile, good old sugar is where the problem really lies but MyFitnessPal doesn’t deem it worthy of any warning or notification.  According to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, “most US adults consume more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet” and “we observed a significant relationship between added sugar consumption and increased risk for CVD (Cardiovascular Disease) mortality.

MyFitnessPal Needs to Get with the Times

According to the latest research, Saturated Fat is not as bad as we once thought especially when it comes from a clean natural source such as Coconut Oil or Grass Fed Beef. Additionally, sugar is emerging as the true villain when it comes to obesity, metabolic syndrome and various diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease, Heart Disease and Cancer. So lets get with the program MyFitnessPal and start focusing more on guiding people away from sugar and less on fat that it turns out wasn’t so bad after all.

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