Like many people, one of my goals this year is to lose weight. I lost weight back in 2012, not down to my goal weight, but I lost around 20 pounds. In the fall of 2012, my husband and I received the wonderful news that we were expecting our first child. Needless to say, I gained weight. After losing a total of 36 pounds since then, I am more determined than ever to lose even more weight and eventually reach my goal weight.
When I lost weight before the pregnancy, I was using the fitness website My Fitness Pal. I loved the site and have been a member since 2011, but a few months ago I felt like I needed something more. I tried SparkNotes, but it wasn’t the website for me. It had too many bells and whistles and I felt I wasn’t able to navigate the site as easily as I could with MFP. So, I went searching on Google and stumbled upon FitClick. What an amazing site! I haven’t completely given up on MFP, but I no longer log my food and exercise on that site. I mainly peek every now and then to see how my MFP peeps are doing and to update my ticker.
I can’t knock MFP completely, though. It did help me kick start my goals and I became acquainted with a few people on the site. Both websites are laid out in an easy to follow format and both have large food databases which make it easy to log food. There are pros and cons to both sites and I hope this article will help future enthusiasts, like myself, to choose which site will suit their needs.
My Fitness Pal
One thing that MFP has over FitClick is the mobile app. FitClick is in the process of creating an app for android systems sometime this year, but as of now, there is no app for the android that can be downloaded. The app is a more convenient way of logging food and exercise when you’re not at a desktop computer. Granted, the internet can be accessed from most mobile devices, but then you’re viewing the website from a smaller device which makes it hard to navigate. MFP’s app also has a barcode feature. It uses the camera on your phone to scan the product’s barcode and the app will automatically find the food so you can easily add it to your diary. If there is no exact match in the MFP database, the app will suggest foods that are similar to what was scanned. The app has all the features of the website including progress graphs and the news feed where one can upload a new status or comment on another friend’s status.
The MFP community has increased and, with the addition of the “like” button, is becoming comparable to Facebook. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how social you want to be during this journey. The good thing is that there are a lot of people to support your weight loss and progress, and you in turn can encourage and support them as well. The FitClick community is large as well, but overall it is quieter.
Another pro of MFP is the ticker. I know this sounds superficial, but the ticker is something that the user can design to show their progress. It can either countdown how many pounds/kilos until the user’s goal weight, or it can display current pounds/kilos lost. The ticker’s URL is easily available for the user to post on other websites. Seeing the button on my ticker move gives me more encouragement than the website simply saying I’ve lost x amount of pounds. Some may also like being able to post it on their blog or website showing others their progress and feeling more accountable for their weight loss.
Lastly, MFP syncs with more applications than FitClick. Both sync with the Fitbit tracker, but MFP also syncs with other tracker devices and exercise/fitness apps such as Endomondo and the various MapMyFitness apps. The only thing I have synced to MFP is my Fitbit, but the reason for that is my phone is a piece of junk and doesn’t run half of the other applications properly. I know plenty of people who use the other apps, though, so to have them sync automatically is definitely a plus.
The first con is one that has been debated a lot on MFP’s forums and that is…the forums. There are a lot of people who turn to the forums for advice or general guidance and are shot down by people who “get it.” I found myself posting less and less on the forums because even a simple question or comment would turn into a debate. You had those that gave their opinion but still recognized that their way wasn’t the only way. Then you had those that would come out and tell someone that they were wrong. They had a cookie cutter logic when it came to fitness and couldn’t say it might work-for them it will work. This alone isn’t a deal breaker, though, because if the energy is too negative it can easily be ignored by the user choosing not to participate in the forums.
Another con is that the challenges are monitored by the users unlike FitClick where the challenges are automatically updated by the site. For example, if you decide to join a challenge at MFP for the most pounds lost in a month, you reply to the forum post that you want to join. The challenge moderator asks everyone to send their initial weight which is logged in an Excel spreadsheet that the moderator updates and monitors. Each week you have to message the moderator your current weight so it can be manually entered. With FitClick, however, once someone creates a challenge, the site handles the rest. Say I join a weight loss challenge-I’m asked to enter my current weight on the site which will serve as my initial weigh in. Once I weigh in thereafter, the site automatically updates my stats. At any time I can view my challenges and see where I stand compared to the other competitors.
Lastly, and this is my biggest peeve with this site, is entering new recipes in MFP. When you want to enter a new recipe, you have to enter each ingredient individually, so it can take a while especially if you’re recipe calls for a lot of ingredients. When entering individual foods in your diary, MFP gives you the option of searching for a food, choosing a recently entered food, or a frequently used food. You can even select multiple foods at one time so it’s a one and done deal. This isn’t the case when entering recipes. You have to click “add ingredient” and it pulls up the search database, you search for your food which then brings up a ton of results, you find the ingredient you want, choose the amount of the ingredient, and add it. You get to do this for the remaining ingredients in your recipe. I wish that the recipe creator had a frequently used ingredient list where you could check everything you need and only use the database for new ingredients. I tried suggesting this, but it hasn’t come to fruition yet.
The biggest con of MFP has become my favorite thing about FitClick-it is so much easier to enter a new recipe! I cook a lot so I rely on entering recipes that I can add to my food journal. In FitClick, once you click create recipe, you’re brought to a page where you list how long the recipe takes, how many servings, etc. Then, on the same page, there’s a text box asking you to list all your ingredients and the amounts-all your ingredients…in one text box. It takes a lot less time and if it’s a recipe from a website or the recipe is stored on your PC, you can copy and paste it into the textbox (can’t do that with MFP). Now, the hardest part, you then click “find and validate ingredients.” The website will go through the database and find everything. Once that’s finished, you can scroll through to make sure it’s the right ingredient and that the correct amount of the ingredient is listed. If there’s an error, it’s easy to swap out ingredients or amounts without losing the rest of the ingredients entered. Once everything is correct, click submit-DONE! You also have the option to make your recipe available to the public and give step by step instructions for making the recipe, but this is not necessary and it’s usually a step I skip.
It’s also easy to enter a new food in the database. If you are unable to find a food and have the nutritional label on hand, you just copy the label’s information into FitClick which shows up with a label that mimics the one on the package. You just go down the label and enter the information.
Also, FitClick has the edge over MFP with diet tracking. FitClick asks if you would like to follow one of their diets, another member’s diet, or if you don’t want to have a diet plan and just intend to track calories only. If you select a diet plan, the website automatically adjusts your target goals to meet this plan (how much protein is you target, how many calories, etc.). MFP only asks basic questions (such as how much weight per week you would like to lose, age, etc) to determine how many calories you should shoot for. You can customize your targets in MFP, but it’s more of a process that FitClick which does it very easily. Some of the diets FitClick offers are low carb, gluten-free, and diabetes diet. They will even give you suggested meal plans and snacks that are within your calorie range.
As I said before, the FitClick community is quieter on a whole when compared to MFP. However, I have yet to see any ounce of negative energy toward others since being a member of FitClick. I once saw a post where someone didn’t understand why their weight loss came to a halt. This type of comment on MFP would have warranted responses saying (in a nutshell) “how can we give you advice if you don’t share your diary or tell us what your current routine is?” Not on FitClick. I’ve only seen positive encouragement toward others and people making general comments about life and the weather. The only negative comments are when others get down on themselves (people tend to be their own biggest critic).
Something people might also find interesting is the point system FitClick offers. You earn points that can be redeemed for fitness/nutrition related discounts at participating sites (such as a discount on running shirts or a discount for nutrition bars). Points vary depending on the nature of what earns the point. For example, eating healthy foods will give you one point for each food eaten. Drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day gives you 10 points. You can also earn points by logging exercise, weighing in, winning challenges, and posting in the forum or on someone’s profile. People become obsessed with earning points so it’s a good motivator to stay on track.
One thing that is hard for me to do on FitClick is remembering to submit my workouts. In MFP, once you select to add an exercise and select your workout along with the time spent doing it, you click add and that’s it. For FitClick, you enter your exercise and the amount of time along with your exertion level for it to figure out approximate calories burned. You click “Edit Saves” and then the button will show for you to submit your workout. If you don’t edit your saves or forget to click the submit button, the exercises won’t count. This will affect your totals if you’re involved in challenges that are fitness based (such as most calories burned or walking challenges).
Another con is when someone posts to another member’s profile. In the news feed, it shows the person’s response but doesn’t say whose profile the comment was posted to. This makes you wonder if the comment was meant for you or someone else. The only way I can tell for sure is to click on my profile to see if the post shows there. If not, then the post wasn’t meant for me and I cry. Just kidding! MFP, however, works similar to Facebook in that it shows you whose profile or status is being responded to.
Lastly, with FitClick I’m not able to choose what nutrients I track under my meals. You can track everything and it shows the totals at the top of your diet page, but the breakdown of what each food contains is set by FitClick (Carbs, Protein, Fat, and Calories). For example, let’s take sodium. I can easily see what my total sodium intake was for that day, but to see the breakdown of each food’s sodium content, I have to click on each food separately. MFP allows you to select what nutrients you want to easily track in your diary. So, if your not as concerned with your fat intake but want to track sugar, you can customize it to do that.
I know that tracking calories isn’t for everyone, but I hope this article will help you choose which fitness website will fit your needs if tracking calories/exercise is what works for you. These sites aren’t just for people looking to lose weight either. They encourage people to also join if they are maintaining their weight, looking to build muscle, or (in some cases that I’ve seen) people looking to gain weight and have a healthier relationship with food.