Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Techy Tuesday: My Fitness Pal App for Blackberry

A while back, I reviewed the Lose It app for iPhone/iPod Touch. For almost 6 months, I logged my food and exercise religiously in that app. It was easy. It worked. It got my weight loss started again after a lengthy plateau/gain. And then June hit...and I got myself a Blackberry. There is no Lose It for Blackberry. Uh oh - Problem.

Enter My Fitness Pal. My Fitness Pal is a very similar app to Lose It. It is available for both iPhone/iPod Touch AND Blackberry.

A quick comparison of the two
Lose ItMy Fitness Pal
  • Online access from desktop
  • Free
  • Apps for iPhone/iPod Touch only
  • Large food database
  • Ability to add own foods, recipes, exercises
  • Online access from desktop
  • Free
  • Apps for iPhone/iPod Touch, Blackberry, Android, Windows Phone
  • Large food database
  • Ability to add own foods, recipes, exercises

On the surface, the two programs seem really similar. They both also support a large user community that you can interact with, social networking capabilities, reporting tools...pretty much everything (and more) that you would need to guide you on the road to success...all you need to do is take the time to log your food and stick to what it says and you're set.

Where they differ, though, and where I found myself actually preferring My Fitness Pal is the food database. Lose It has a decent database...but it isn't always accurate and it isn't very comprehensive. When you add foods to Lose It...they are your foods. You don't share them with anyone else. My Fitness Pal gives you the option to make the manual food entry public AND gives other users a chance to verify its accuracy. As a result, there are very few foods I have had to enter myself...someone has usually gotten to it first. This is especially fantastic when I started looking for listings of small Canadian restaurants like Good Earth Cafe...most of my regular orders were already in the database!

I also noticed that the calorie allowances are quite a bit lower than with Lose It. Lose It adjusts your calories downward as you log losses. My Fitness Pal does not. It has stayed the same over the 4lbs I've lost (so far) using it. This is both good and bad. It seems like a low number but it is still fairly good from a diet perspective (at 156.5lbs it gives me 1260/day). Lose it gave me around 100 more than that.

There are drawbacks, though. The Blackberry app has minimal functionality. I can manage my meals and check in with my weight. It is a very minimalistic interface and navigation is a bit clunky. I've experimented with the iPhone version a bit and it is much more suited to a touchscreen device. Trying to scroll with the track pad on my BB can be a bit tricky and frustrating. Also - when you scroll over something, it is hard to tell if you have selected it because it merely shades the option in a pale pale blue - making it hard to distinguish from the white background. For all intents and purposes, though, the app works best if you have the mindset that it is function over form.

I do find that if I have a desktop computer available, I will tend to just log my meals that way. Having the mobile app does keep me accountable when I'm on the go, though, and I appreciate that - even if it does thwart my buying a chocolate bar because I have no excuse to not know what remains in my calorie bank :)

Some screenshots of the Blackberry App

Some screenshots of the iPhone/iPod Touch App

The Mobile Apps are free.  For more information, visit: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/mobile

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