Tracking Calories in Nigerian foods using Myfitnesspal
Since the release of Lose it Nigerian (LIN) e-Book , I have received amazing reviews . I have also had some inquiries regarding the difference between Lose It Nigerian (LIN) e-Book and my fitness pal which is a free database and has Nigerian food entries. The simple reply is often that there isn’t a major difference when it come to tracking, you can absolutely use my fitness pal. However, if you are serious about losing significant amounts of weight on a Nigerian diet, you need to do a lot of leg work to use myfitnesspal effectively. The extra leg work is what Lose It Nigerian (LIN) e-Book offers and It can be used in conjunction with myfitnesspal.
Why does my fitness plan require extra legwork you ask ?
My fitness pal is largely an unverified database, meaning that anyone can enter any information which shows up in search. Why it works so well for non-Nigerian foods is because most of the foods are pre packaged, so pretty much the company who packages the food has done the legwork of calorie calculation and verification.
Why it doesn’t work well for Nigerian or African food in general is because we ALL cook differently, there are no reasonable averages. If you are trying to lose weight, daily caloric and macro information should be balanced to at least 95%. This is why it’s a bad decision to rely on unverified entries.
Most people who use my fitness pal also use it for their own recipe development. This is a great feature and it works excellently well with Non Traditional ingredients. It’s when you get into things are more local to Nigerian diet that you might have some issues:
These are two examples of things that most Nigerians who use Myfitnesspal would have used at some point of another.
Ola-Ola Poundo Entry
MyFitnessPal information Vs Actual Ola Ola packaging information
From the fat content information in the MFP entry, you can already tell that the information is inaccurate. If you are on a low calorie diet and are more concerned about calorie alone, this misinformation has now set you back 123 calories in just one meal. PS: let the fact that one cup of poundo has a whooping 940 calories sink in just for a moment. Considering that the average dieter is on a caloric plan between 1200-1400 calorie. Imagine what happens when you account for the calories in the soup.
Another example is this popular entry for garri. Based on the lengthy research I had to do when writing Lose It Nigerian, I know this information is grossly inaccurate.Granted lots of factors affect the caloric content of garri based on processing methodologies but averaging formulas still bring a cup at a little over 500 calories.
3 Tips for using Myfitnesspal effectively for Nigerian food
1. Only use verified ingredients when possible
Do comparison between myfitness pal and at least one other websites (google, calorieking) when you are unsure
Note: verified information usually have a green check-mark next to them
2. Do NOT use other people’s entries for things like egusi soup, okra soup, stew etc.
There is no way of telling type and quantity of ingredients used. It’s best that you enter your own ingredients, verify them, and determine reasonable serving sizes. Alternatively, get Lose it Nigerian. All the work has already been done for you (wink wink..lol)
3. Use “Quick Add” option
This is a feature of myfitnesspal I recently discovered (which is weird since I have been using the app for 3+ years). This is amazingly useful when you are eating off of a program like LIN, all you need to do is actually enter calorie information. This way you use the app as a “calorie keeper” instead of going through the hassle of entering and verifying information