Tracking macros using MyFitnessPal (or any macro tracker) can be a bit confusing but the more you do it the easier it gets. If you are still unsure what macros are or why you want to count them check out Macro Counting: What is it? and How to count macros.

Step 1: Download the MyFitnessPal App

The easiest way to use MyFitnessPal is to download the FREE app to your phone.  Yes, there is a premium version of MFP but you do not need it for this program.  If you are interested in having extra features (like being able to customize your nutrition goals) feel free to upgrade to the paid version but it is not required.

Step 2: Create an account and profile

MyFitnessPal walks you through the setup when you open the app for the first time.  Some of this information is not necessary for your nutrition coaching program but feel free to enter it anyway.  MFP uses the information you enter to make a plan for you, ignore this plan.  Luckily you have a nutrition coach and you will not need the recommendations made by MFP.  You will only be using MFP as a macro tracking tool.  More simply put it is going to do all the math for you.  How nice!

Step 3: Entering food and tracking macros

From the home screen in MFP click on “diary” located along the bottom of the screen.  The food diary will open up to “Today” (see image left).  The diary is where you will add the type and quantity of food/drinks you consume in a day. Enter meals under their appropriate section (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) either as you eat them or if you would like to plan ahead you can enter the entire day of food in the morning or night before so you don’t get to the end of the day over/under your goal. Let’s walk through entering a meal.

4oz boneless skinless chicken thighs

100g sweet potato

5oz steamed zucchini

1tsp ghee

8oz GTs Gingerade Kombucha (drink)

I am going to enter these items into MFP as lunch one at a time.  As I weigh/measure each food item I click “Add Food” and locate the food from MFP database of foods.

The first food item in the meal above is boneless skinless chicken thighs. Start typing the item you are looking for into the search bar and suggestions from the MFP database will be listed below.  Choose the option that best matches the food you are searching.

NOTE:  The more you use MFP the more customized the database will become based on the foods you routinely eat.

The top food listed in the search is the best match to the boneless/skinless chicken thighs included in this meal.  Tap the selection.

NOTE:  Foods listed are not always correct!  Always check the validity of the posting.  Foods with green check marks next to them are verified to be accurate.

After making a selection adjust the serving size and number of servings.  The chicken thighs listed have a default serving size of 1oz.  Since the meal above includes 4oz (4 servings) tap the number of servings and select “4”.

Below the number of servings MFP lists the protein, carbs, and fats in the amount of food selected.  This is a great tool if you are not certain how much of a certain food you will need to eat to meet your goal.  For example if you need 25g of protein for this meal to meet your protein macro goal for the day a slight adjustment in the number of servings will be necessary to increase the amount of protein by 3g.  This feature can also be used to help you avoid macros which will put you over your goal.  For example if you needed protein and fat but had already met your carb goal for the day this item would be a good choice to help you meet the protein/fat goal without going over on carbs.

NOTE: MFP makes suggestions of foods which are frequently paired with the food selected.  This can save a step allowing you to select additional foods which might be included in the meal.

Once the size and number of servings are correct click the check in the upper right corner.

Repeat the above process for each item in the meal.  Notice that the serving size (type of measurement) vary for all items.  Most foods are listed with several options (oz, g, cups, tsp, tbs, etc).  Weight is always better than volume so whenever possible weigh (grams, ounces, lbs) items rather than measuring them (measuring cups/spoons).

Once all of the items in the meal are entered they will be listed in the diary under the appropriate meal.

Now what? All food and beverages you eat during the day count toward the total macro count for the day (the goal numbers your coach assigned you).  As you enter items into the diary MFP keeps track of the total number of proteins, carbs, fats, and fiber in those foods. Pretty nice!  Without having to do any math you will have a running total so you know how much you have consumed and how many macros you have left.

To view the total macro count for the day (for all foods entered) scroll down to the bottom of the diary and click “Nutrition”.  On the Nutrition screen select “Nutrients” and the total number of protein, carbs, fats, and fiber will be listed (in grams).

NOTE: Unless you have the paid version of MFP the goal/left numbers will not be accurate. Make a note of your macro number goals so you can reference them to determine if you have met your goals or how many grams of protein, carbs, fat, and fiber you have left for the day.

Step 4: Rinse and Repeat

Repeat the process above for each meal and any additional snacks/beverages consumed during the day. When all food has been logged for the day a review of protein, carbs, fats, and fiber the “Nutrition” overview should match the numbers assigned by your coach.  At first it might be challenging to hit these numbers exactly but with practice it will get easier. Just remember to take it one step at a time and contact your coach with any questions.