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MyFitnessPal For Personal Trainers: The Complete Guide

MyFitnessPal for Personal Trainers

MyFitnessPal for personal trainers can help to facilitate a client’s goals once they leave their scheduled in-person sessions. 

With this complete guide we’ll explore how you can successfully incorporate MyFitnessPal into personal training sessions, spanning topics such as: 

But first, if you wish to get the most out of MyFitnessPal you should enrol in a Level 4 nutrition course. In doing so you can gain specialist knowledge and skills that will greatly assist you in the creation of your clients' bespoke meal plans.

Alternatively, you can check out our FREE prospectus to learn more about all the courses we offer at OriGym.

What Can A Personal Trainer Use MyFitnessPal For?

As a PT, there is only so much you can do for your clients during their training sessions. Once their allotted time is over, it’s their responsibility to continue exercising and eating healthily in order to achieve their goals.

This is where incorporating MyFitnessPal into personal training programmes can be beneficial.

With MyFitnessPal, a personal trainer can track and monitor a client’s diet and exercise regime to help determine optimal calorie and nutrient intake. In turn, this data can help the client to achieve weight and body composition goals, as well as inform the PT's planning process.

Clients will track their eating habits and exercise routines to collect data that reflects their current progress. PTs can then monitor this information to observe whether clients are staying on track to achieve their goals, or whether adjustments need to be made to their programme.

If you’re questioning ‘how does MyFitnessPal work with a personal trainer’s food plans and workout programmes?’, you must stress the importance of regularly logging this information to your clients.

Here’s a brief overview of how a client can log this activity:

  • To Log Exercise: Select the exercise you’d like to monitor, then add the number of sets/reps, or minutes of cardio you have performed. Then select “Add” or “Add Exercise to Diary” to ensure it's logged.
  • To Log Diet: Many popular foods and brands are already listed in the app that can be logged through a quick search, but you can also add the data manually (for homemade recipes, for example). Likewise, you can also scan the food product’s barcode in order to track the data.

In terms of the advantages of MyFitnessPal for personal trainers, you can use the app’s data collection function to:

  • Monitor Calorie and Macronutrient Intake: If clients log the data correctly, this information will be displayed through charts, graphs, and weekly summaries. You can use this information to monitor whether clients are sticking to the plan you’ve outlined for them.
  • Interact With a Client’s Data: Small steps such as liking or commenting on completed food logs and fitness activities can motivate your personal training clients. This shows you care, and are invested in the pursuit of their goals.
  • Set Challenges and Rewards: Whilst MyFitnessPal has a back catalogue of its own fitness challenges, you can input your own. Therefore, a client could input their own programme, and you’re able to offer them virtual badges as rewards for completion. 

However, this isn’t to say that MyFitnessPal for personal trainers is a miracle solution that will benefit every client. If used incorrectly, it could actually hinder a user’s overall performance.

This is where your personal training experience comes into play. You will still need to work with your client, fulfilling the other roles and responsibilities associated with your job role to guarantee the results they’re expecting.

 

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What Should A Personal Trainer Still Do Alongside Using MyFitnessPal?

#1 - Make Clients Aware Of How MyFitnessPal Counts Calories

We’ve already shared how clients can download a personal trainer’s food plans into MyFitnessPal, but you should be aware of one drawback of the app - it’s not as knowledgeable about tracking calories as you are

Once users have logged their workouts into MyFitnessPal, the app then calculates the number of calories burned. Following this, the app then adds these burned calories back onto the users daily allowance.

This can be viewed as counterintuitive, as it runs the risk of a client overeating and minimising the effects of their workouts. 

A personal trainer should closely monitor this calorie intake, and try to stop their clients from overconsuming.

Be sure to flag this feature to your clients, and suggest they ignore the app's recommended calorie counter, and instead use MyFitnessPal as a food diary or tracker.

#2 - Tell Your Clients To Be Cautious Of MyFitnessPal’s In-App Nutrition Advice 

Another responsibility that personal trainers must adhere to when using MyFitnessPal is to stress the importance of a client sticking to their bespoke meal plans, which you’ll have created to help with their specific needs and goals.

This is a hugely important task, as the app can also recommend their in-house food plans and meal suggestions. Whilst it may seem beneficial, the advice here will not be tailored to your clients needs, and won’t reflect their current fitness goals.

For example, this advice could push clients completely off plan, recommending foods that you advised them against. Likewise, it could also provide meal recommendations that aren’t suitable for that specific day, and may take clients over their daily caloric intake.

Should a client follow this advice without consulting you, it could negatively impact upon their overall progress. 

To avoid this from occurring, if you wish to heavily incorporate the app into your client’s training programme then you should personally select MyFitnessPal approved recipes for their bespoke client meal plan.

This will guarantee that your clients stay on track for their goals, whilst still making use of beneficial features of the app.

Both of these points stress that, whilst using MyFitnessPal as a personal trainer, you shouldn’t rely on the app for everything.

Just because you have this technology to assist you, does not mean you should allow it to do your job for you. 

Instead, you should use it to offer further support and guidance to your clients outside of in-person sessions.

But this isn’t the only advice that we can provide in relation to incorporating MyFitnessPal into personal training programmes.

Tips on Helping Your Clients Get The Most Out of MyFitnessPal

myfitnesspal personal training

When using MyFitnessPal as a personal trainer, you shouldn’t allow your clients to go into this new application blind. 

Experiencing anything for the first time can be overwhelming, and with numerous features and tools to explore, some clients may become confused when using MyFitnessPal.

This section will explore tips that you can provide in order to guarantee that your clients will get the most out of the app. 

 

#1 - Purchase A Set of Scales And Measuring Cups To Monitor Portion Sizes And Calories 

Once you’ve set out a meal plan for your client, a common struggle is controlling portion sizes. Therefore, part of your proposed plan should include exact measurements to reduce the risk of over- or undereating. 

You should recommend that they purchase a set of kitchen scales and measuring cups. This will allow them to follow your proposed meal plan structure without the need for estimations or guesswork.

But how does MyFitnessPal work with personal trainer food measurements? Well, by using measuring cups or kitchen scales the nutrition information that is placed into the app will be more accurate.

Think about it this way. Say you ate some almonds as a snack throughout the day, but were unsure of how much you actually ate. Guessing won’t provide an accurate depiction of your calorie intake.

On the other hand, if you measured out 100g of almonds on a set of kitchen scales, you could input this detailed measurement into MyFitnessPal for an accurate insight into how many calories you have consumed. 

From this accurate information, clients will be able to calculate how many calories they have left to consume on any given day, and PTs can see how a client is progressing with their plan.

#2 - Keep MyFitnessPal Updated With Your Current Weight 

When using MyFitnessPal, personal trainers should stress to their clients the importance of regularly updating their weight on the app.

In doing so, you as their PT can gain an insight into whether their exercise programme and meal plans are effective, or whether they will require any additional alterations. 

Clients can record their weight in the app by following these simple steps:

  • When using the Website: Click the scale icon under your profile, then proceed to click the ‘Check-In’ option at the top of the page.
  • When using the App: On the homepage scroll down to the progress section and select the weight card.

Be aware that as a personal trainer, you will never be able to see a client’s current weight, as this information is kept private to the user's profile. 

Instead, you will only be notified for how much weight a client has lost - check out what MyFitnessPal says about this.

Another key feature of the app allows users to gain insight into their possible future weight.

MyFitnessPal will use your current weight and then tell you what you could weigh in 5 weeks if you keep up the same eating habits

This feature can actually help to motivate your clients, encouraging them to stick to their exercise programmes and meal plans, should they want to achieve this goal.

For reference, should a client ever feel they have given an incorrect stat, simply ask them to click:

  • My Home
  • Check-In
  • Edit Previous Entries

Here, they can correct any misinformation and replace it with accurate stats.

Another thing to make note of is that MyFitnessPal’s programming can’t track changes in body composition.

For example, if your primary goal is to gain muscle mass, MyFitnessPal won’t be able to analyse your progress in this area. 

Instead, it will merely tell these users that they are gaining weight without distinguishing between muscle and fat. 

So whilst the app is highly beneficial for those looking to track weight loss/gain, those who are interested in analysing other bodily changes may have to use different applications. 

#3 - Set Notifications To Ensure Clients Remember To Track On MyFitnessPal

At the end of the day your clients are human, so it’s natural that they might forget to input some information. 

Whilst it won’t be detrimental to their overall programme, it can produce anomalies and inaccurate results, especially if MyFitnessPal is an integral part of your training programme. 

Therefore, you should recommend clients turn on notifications on the MyFitnessPal app. In doing so, clients will get frequent reminders to input information relating to what they have consumed.

For this reason, it may be worth asking clients to set MyFitnessPal reminders for times when they frequently eat their daily meals (a reminder at 1pm to track lunch, for instance).

This will decrease the likelihood of clients forgetting to track their food intake as, if they keep a regular schedule, they will likely be eating when the notification appears on their phone/smart device.

 

#4 - Purchase The Premium Version of MyFitnessPal to Gain More Control Over Daily Macros and Carbs Goals 

Clients who use MyFitnessPal for personal training programmes may find the premium service more beneficial. 

Whilst the regular, free to use app is great in its own right, there are some downsides that can be resolved by purchasing the premium package option. 

The chief among these is the ability to track their macronutrient intake in exact detail, which is perfect for in-depth personal training programmes. 

This feature will allow your clients to set daily goals, rather than following the same holistic targets for prolonged periods of time.

Therefore, if their bespoke meal plan contains lower or higher carb or macro days, they will be able to monitor this in exact detail rather than guesstimating. 

These features are ideal for clients who have specific goals in mind that can only be obtained by closely monitoring their macronutrients. 

For example, those who are looking to gain muscle mass will typically be aiming to consume:

  • 40% Protein
  • 30% Fat
  • 30 Carbs 

This information can only be obtained through close monitoring of your macronutrients. Without this feature, these clients would simply be left without a clear sense of direction, unsure of whether they’re making progress towards their goal.

The premium version of MyFitnessPal is available for a total £7.99/month. When purchased, the advanced application can help create a customisable meal plan that can be adjusted in a weekly schedule in accordance with your advice. 

If you’re enjoying our comprehensive guide into MyFitnessPal for personal trainers, you may also find these other OriGym articles to be of benefit:

4 Advantages Of MyFitnessPal For Personal Trainers

If you’re still on the fence about the benefits of using MyFitnessPal for personal trainers, let’s explore the reasons why you might choose to use the app in your training programmes.

#1 - With MyFitnessPal, Personal Trainers & Clients Can Track Various Dietary Habits

We’ve already touched on the various tracking capabilities that MyFitnessPal has, such as the calorie and macronutrient counter, but this just scratches the surface, with other key app features that include:

  • Logging fibre intake
  • Tracking periods of the day where they’re most likely to feel full & hungry
  • Analysing the colour of foods they eat per day
  • Noting meal frequency (and tendencies to skip meals)
  • Measuring water intake 
  • Tracking snacking habits 
  • Writing out positive eating choices for any given day
  • Noting down any food-related feelings and emotions 

MyFitnessPal highlights the importance of implementing other tracking techniques in the following released statement:

There are so many reasons to track your food intake, including counting your calories and macros. But you can also learn a lot about how you eat from somewhat unexpected tracking strategies, like keeping an eye on how many colours you’re getting each day and whether your water intake passes muster. In the end, it all goes toward knowing yourself and your habits better and establishing a diet that helps you reach your goals

When discussing the advantages of MyFitnessPal for personal trainers and their clients, there is only so much insight to be gained from calories and macros. 

To get a full picture of a clients’ eating habits they should be making use of each of the aforementioned tracking features.

In doing so, personal trainers will be able to closely monitor whether their clients are getting everything they need from the meals and plans they’ve outlined.

On the flip side, clients will be able to view how effective this plan is, as there will be a backlog of data and notes to show their progress from the beginning of their programme. 

To ensure that clients are tracking their progress in this manner be sure to demonstrate all of the app's features to them. 

Clients who merely stick to the calorie and macro counters may not even be aware of MyFitnessPals advanced tracking capabilities. Therefore, even a simple demonstration will improve their chances of logging other data.

As a PT you can also remind them to log this data through regular check-ins, which could be as simple as a text that encourages them to log their fibre intake or food colours on any given day. 

 

Become a Level 4 Nutrition Specialist OriGym

Progress your career with OriGym and enrol on a OriGym's Level 4 Advanced Nutrition course today! 

#2 - MyFitnessPal and Personal Training Software Can Integrate Seamlessly

Another of the advantages of MyFitnessPal for personal trainers is that it seamlessly integrates with other platforms such as Trainerize, providing clearer insight into the performance capabilities of clients.

For reference, whilst clients will be able to log the results of their workout into MyFitnessPal, the app will only provide information pertaining to how the exercise has affected their calorie/macro intake.

By solely using MyFitnessPal, some trainers may not be able to understand the full scope of a client’s progress, as the data collected will specifically focus on nutrition. 

As a result, the progress of a client could be misinterpreted and negatively impact upon their overall performance. 

Instead, by integrating a client’s existing MyFitnessPal account into the Trainerize app, exercising habits can be closely monitored too. 

For those unfamiliar, Trainerize is a personal training software that allows PTs to:

  • Set workout goals and targets
  • Monitor the client's progress 
  • Conduct client check-ins
  • Set alerts for when clients are engaging with their programme 
  • Sign-up new clients from the app directly
  • Create detailed files comprised of all a client’s personal information

For this reason, we recommend that you advise your clients to sync MyFitnessPal profile with Trainerize. By doing so, you will gain more information regarding both nutrition and physical fitness

Thankfully, Trainerize has provided a simple breakdown of how to connect these accounts, which you can use to teach clients:

Then it’s a simple matter of asking your client to set their Diary Sharing to public on the MyFitnessPal app to sync everything together.

Once this has completed, both applications will be synced and your client can share both their nutritional and exercise information with you.

#3 - By Using MyFitnessPal, Personal Training Clients Can Make Behavioural Changes

When it comes to the advantages of MyFitnessPal for personal trainers and their clients, the benefits of the app have actually been backed by science.

Research conducted by Oxford University has found that when a clear goal can be easily measured and followed, it will act as a form of behavioural treatment. 

Therefore, when a client can closely monitor nutritional and fitness related goals anytime and any place from their phones, they will be more likely to make long-term behavioural changes. 

The same research found the behavioural changes are most likely to occur when individuals can see a clear cause and effect of their behaviour. 

Once a goal has been established, you should therefore work with your clients to examine factors that can help them progress towards it.

The above research argues that these behavioural changes are not implemented by will power, but rather ‘skill power’.

This means that anyone can theoretically implement nutritional and fitness related changes, they simply need to practice.

MyFitnessPal for personal trainers can help to facilitate this training through a variety of ‘problem solving tools’, such as:

  • Graphs and reports related to calorie and macro consumption
  • A client’s personal notes on food consumption and habits 
  • Stats relating to a client's weight/potential future weight 

These tools establish a chain of events that can lead to positive and negative behavioural patterns. 

To combat these negative connotations, a personal trainer can put preventative measures in place, in order to stop them from occurring. 

For example, if a client’s notes flag that they overeat when watching television, you should work together to weaken the association between the two occurrences. 

You can ask clients’ to eat in a more appropriate location, such as a kitchen or dining room. By doing so, they will learn to break the association that triggers overeating. 

Over the course of time clients will learn how to automatically combat these negative behaviours. This will take time and repetition in order to learn, so don’t expect it to occur overnight.

#4 - MyFitnessPal For Personal Trainers Simplifies Complex Calculations

One of the most understated advantages of MyFitnessPal for personal trainers is the app’s ability to simplify complex calculations that would otherwise be challenging to do on your own.

For example, to work out how many calories you’d burn on a daily basis, you’d first need to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This represents the minimum amount of energy needed to keep your body functioning on a daily basis.

This BMR is determined by your sex, age and bodysize and may look something like:

  • For men, your BMR is equal to: 65 + (6.2 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
  • For women, your BMR is equal to: 655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.3 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

Once you begin engaging in exercise, clients would then need to adjust this calculation to account for physical activity.

This value will be called Active Metabolic Rate (AMR), and it’s calculated by multiplying your BMR by a number that’s representative of your activity levels:

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise): AMR = BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (exercise 1–3 days/week): AMR = BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (exercise 3–5 days/week): AMR = BMR x 1.55
  • Active (exercise 6–7 days/week): AMR = BMR x 1.725
  • Very active (hard exercise 6–7 days/week): AMR = BMR x 1.9

You should use your clients existing workout programme to figure out where they land on the AMR scale. For example, if they meet with you for training 3 times a week, and training separately once a week they would fall under the ‘moderate’ category. 

The overall answer to this calculation will determine how many calories you need to consume each day in order to stay at your current weight.

Therefore, if your clients goal is to lose weight you should increase their level of physical activity, or decrease their recommended caloric intake.

Whilst working these calculations out is possible, it is somewhat of a tedious activity. 

Instead, by recommending that clients download their personal trainer food plans into MyFitnessPal, they can have these calculations done for them with the simple push of a few buttons.

3 Disadvantages Of MyFitnessPal for Personal Trainers

While we’ve highlighted the positives the app can bring to your training, there are several disadvantages of MyFitnessPal for personal trainers that you need to be aware of.

#1 - Misreporting Can Present An Issue When Using MyFitnessPal With Your Clients 

In ideal circumstances, your clients will log every aspect of their diet and exercise regime into MyFitnessPal. 

One of the main disadvantages of MyFitnessPal for personal trainers is that they may face clients who misrepresent themselves with the data they input into the app.

Clients may accidentally input information relating to how much weights they lift at a gym, or how long they engage in cardio workouts. This data alone will skew the results presented to their trainer.

Similarly, some clients may underestimate just how much they consume on a daily basis, and fail to record everything on the app. For example, some factors individuals often fail to log include:

  • Snacking or taste-testing when cooking meals 
  • Eating leftovers 
  • Condiments and sauces (especially high-fat sauces like mayonnaise or ketchup)
  • Milk and sugar in hot drinks
  • Alcoholic drinks 

Whilst these may seem like insignificant details in the moment, failure to include them will create an inaccurate depiction of your calorie consumption. 

As a result of failing to disclose this information, personal trainers may be unable to determine why clients aren’t hitting their goals. 

To combat this, you must encourage clients to be as honest as possible when entering their data. Overtime, if they take this process seriously, their behavioural habits will change, meaning they will instinctively enter the information. 

Alternatively, you can also recommend that these clients set reminders on their phones to input the information. For the most effective results, the notifications should be scheduled for times in which they are most likely to be eating.

#2 - Incorporating MyFitnessPal Into Personal Training Programmes May Cause Unhealthy Obsessions 

When discussing the disadvantages of MyFitnessPal for personal training clients, it must be noted that some individuals may develop an unhealthy obsession with the app. 

With an intense focus on numbers and calories, MyFitnessPal has been reported to increase anxiety in certain individuals. 

For example, some may find social situations such as eating out to be daunting, as they don’t want to mess up their calorie count or macro targets.

Research has even shown that calorie counting applications such as MyFitnessPal can contribute to eating disorders. Of 125 interviewed participants, 30% stated that they believed the app contributed to the development of an eating disorder. 

Whilst this is obviously an alarming statistic, as a personal trainer you’re always in control of how a client uses the app, and can help combat any negative behaviours before they develop into a more serious issue.

As their PT, you should be on hand to offer constant support to all of your clients should they begin to struggle with MyFitnessPal. 

Should they personally raise a concern to you, reassure them that their feelings are valid before removing the application from their training programme. 

Whilst this may be disappointing, the approach that MyFitnesspal takes may simply not be suitable for them.

For more information on how to deal with this matter, check out our in-depth article providing advice on training clients with eating disorders.

 

Become a Level 4 Nutrition Specialist OriGym

Progress your career with OriGym and enrol on a OriGym's Level 4 Advanced Nutrition course today! 

#3 - Some Find Using MyFitnessPal A Time Consuming Process

As far as disadvantages of MyFitnessPal for personal trainers go, perhaps one of the more pressing ones is how much time it can take to keep on top of it.

Logging all of their data may disrupt a client’s natural eating habits as they will be constantly on their phones inputting information rather than eating.

Whilst you can simply scan a product's barcode in order to log it’s calorie and macro content, on some occasions the particular food may not be available on the app itself, and requires manually inputting. 

And with the app’s constantly updating back catalogue of scannable foods, clients can often have a short wait before they’re able to input their information, losing even more valuable personal time.

There isn’t technically a resolution to this problem - you will merely have to encourage your clients to be patient, and reassure them of the benefits. 

Over time, the process will become easier overtime, as they will simply learn how the app operates, and develop a memory for the foods they more regularly eat.

You can also recommend that clients visit the MyFitnessPal forum to interact with like-minded users. In this instance, here is some helpful advice from forum members who struggled with the time consuming nature of the app:

By checking out some of the similar issues on the forum, your client can apply the advice in order to combat these potential disadvantages.

Remember, whilst the aforementioned disadvantages of MyFitnessPal for personal trainers and their clients are prevalent, they do not outweigh the benefits. 

Furthermore, these issues will be more prevalent in specific individuals than others, meaning that you may need to offer personalised advice to suit the client’s situation.

Before You Go! 

Following this definitive guide you should have a better understanding of how MyFitnessPal works for personal trainers and clients alike. 

When choosing to incorporate this app into your client’s training programme and meal plans, be sure to offer consistent support, and understand the app’s strengths as well as its limitations.

Remember, a Level 4 nutrition course will also provide you with vital skills required to create bespoke meal plans. This attribute will help to ensure that your clients get the most out of their MyFitnessPal experience.

You can also download OriGym’s free prospectus to view every course we have to offer.

Written by James Bickerstaff

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

James holds a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing and Film Studies and has recently gained a MA degree in Film, both of which he attained from Liverpool John Moores University. After taking up the couch to 5K challenge on a whim, James found a new passion for running, which he combines with his love for healthy cooking and writing. All of this led him to becoming a copywriter for OriGym.  

When he is not writing content for the site, James can be found researching new recipes, writing music reviews, reading and watching latest film releases.   

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