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How Our Calorie Recommendations Work
Based on your profile information, we calculate your daily nutritional goals to allow you to lose (or gain) weight at the rate you've chosen.
You can eat anything you like, as long as you log all of your food and exercise, and stay within your daily goals. You track your items by adding them to your diary. Each items calories are deducted from your daily goal, providing you with a calorie remainder for the day. If you want eat more on a given day, you simply need to log cardio exercise to increase your daily totals.
We set your nutritional target in Net Calories which we define as:
Calories Consumed (Food) - Calories Burned (Exercise) = Net Calories
What that means is that if you exercise, you will be able to eat more for that day. For example, if your Net Calorie goal is 2000 calories, one way to meet that goal is to eat 2,500 calories of food, but then burn 500 calories through exercise.
Think of your Net Calories like a daily budget of calories to spend. You spend them by eating, and you earn more calories to eat by exercising.
If you are following a specific guided plan from your doctor or nutritionist (for instance, if you are diabetic or pregnant), you can also customize your plan accordingly. Simply go to the "Goals" sub tab, then "Change Goals" then "Customize Goals".
Adding Food to Your Diary on the Website
Click the "My Home" tab, then the "Food" tab. This will take you to your Food Diary.
Choose the meal to which you'll be adding food, and click "Add Food" under that meal.
Type the name of the food you're looking for in the box to the left of the "Search" button. You can use keywords, like "turkey sandwich" or brand names. Then click "Search."
When the search results appear, click the item that represents the best match, and information for that item will appear on the right hand side. There, you can adjust the serving size and number of servings to reflect the amount you've eaten. For example, if you are having half of the standard serving size, change the number of servings from "1" to ".5". Finally click "Add".
The item will be added to your diary and the calories for the item will be deducted from your daily allowance. With each item you log, your list of recently for each meal category will update automatically, to make it easier to add your favorite foods quickly.
Creating Custom Foods on the Website
If we do not have a particular food item in our database, you add any item you like by clicking "Add a food to the database" at the bottom of the food search page. This will save the item to your "My Foods" list for use again in the future.
If you just know the calorie count for an item, and you don't want to add it the full item the database, you can use the "Quick add calories" option in the "Quick Tools" link, located under each meal category.
Logging Exercise on the Website
To add an exercise to your diary, click the "Exercise" tab, then click "Add Exercise" under "Cardiovascular". You can search for exercises the same way you search for food. If you cannot find a particular exercise, try rewording it for better results. Single word searches like "run" or "swim" will provide the most useful results.
If you cannot find the exercise you need, and you know how many calories you have burned, via a heart rate monitor or other tracking device, you can add an exercise manually. If your search does not locate the exercise you need, click "Add an exercise to the database" on the search results screen. Or, for a rough calorie estimate, you can try substituting a similar exercise already in our database.
Strength Training on the Website
Please note that because of the many variables involved, we do not calculate the calories burned for strength training exercises you log. The strength training area works like a workout journal for tracking your progress, but will not update your calorie goal for the day. You may log "strength training" under the Cardiovascular section for a very rough estimate of calories burned.
Exercise Tracking on the Website
If you are interested in devices that can calculate the calories you are burning, may we suggest looking into our third party integrations? Several of our integrations offer solutions for monitoring your calorie burn over the course of the day, and can update your MyFitnessPal calorie goals based on this data.
On the site you can find out more about our integrations in the "Apps" tab.
Community Assistance on the Website
For more advice about getting started and maintaining healthy habits, or for encouragement from other users, you may want to visit the "Community" tab. There you can chat with other members who will be more than happy to help guide you through some initial problems or point you toward useful information.
Please see this section of our help articles for more information about posting in our Forums.
Mobile Access to MyFitnessPal
If you have any of the following devices, we invite you to download our free apps. Our app is available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Android. Log in using the same email address and password and all of our apps and the website will stay in sync.
You may also want to visit: https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/essential-guide-to-myfitnesspal/
Thank you for choosing MyFitnessPal. We wish you nothing but success on your health and fitness journey.