Monday, February 2, 2015

The Main Event - Weight Watchers vs. MyFitnessPal

Some people may wonder if I'm over-analyzing fitness/weight loss, but since training for a 5k and entering another DietBet, I have started tracking my progress through Weight Watchers and MyFitnessPal. Part of me has been curious if it is worth paying the $18.95 every month for WW if I can just as easily maintain my fitness goals through MyFitnessPal. One tracks points and the other calories. So the biggest question is - which one is better? Which strategy will help increase my results?

My recent gut feeling is "free" sounds much more appealing. For the past three years, I have been watching the $18.95 deduct out of my checking account for Weight Watchers. Spending money has been a driving force for watching what I eat. But now also tracking calories through a free app, MFP, has put me on the fence. I've been losing weight and getting in better shape and I can't tell if one method is prevailing over the other.

Below is a list of the positives and negatives of each that I have found.

Weight Watchers
1. Huge network of support from a credible source
2. Point-friendly and reasonable recipes at the touch of the app
3. Flexibility to get back and use "activity" (exercise) points either on the day of the work out, or weekly pool
4. Ability to scan foods into the app to track
5. Eat what you want, as long as within portion control (you can eat your pizza and cake, as long as within reason)
6. Many foods found in supermarkets include point values
7. You can find many restaurants on the app to track
8. Encourages to weigh in once a week, which the app then shows graph and cheers you on as you lose
9. Links up to other apps, such as Fitbit (iPhone has a Health app that helps put it all together)

1. It is not free to be a member and use the services ($18.95/mth)
2. I've noticed some newer or unique foods are not found when trying to scan
3. Does not factor in calories and other nutritional facts and uses formula strictly by: fat, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber
4. Slightly confusing when making "smart" choices - for example, half an avocado is worth the same point value as a pop-tart
5. Slightly discourages eating meats (as the protein and fat values tend to increase the amount of points)

1. Free!
2. Large network of support from credible source
3. Calories are the number 1 factor, although you can also track all other nutritional values
4. Ability to scan foods into the app to track
5. You can search and find foods that people have already created and tracked, including certain brands and restaurants
6. Have the ability to eat what you want, as long as you stay within your daily allotted calories
7. Track your weight and progress whenever you want, also shows a graph of your progress
8. You can save recipes
9. Syncs up to other apps such as Fitbit

1. Main focus is on calorie-counting, which can be difficult when you're eating foods from for example a cafeteria, or restaurant
2. Can be difficult to guess portion sizes (ex. 1 cup, 1 tbsp, 3 oz?)
3. I've noticed it is difficult to track exercises if you do not know the exact amount (running on a treadmill will show calories burned, but difficult to track calories if running outside at unknown speeds)
4. Only allows the extra calories from exercising on the day of, they go away once the next day hits
5. Alot going on in the app, there are components that I probably don't even know about

I'm sure I could think of more for each as the day goes on, but you get the idea. They both have a lot of good and not-so-good aspects - I think it really depends on the person and what they would rather pay attention to. I'm so used to Weight Watchers and my loyalty to the brand, but one day I may decide to stop paying for it. Especially knowing I can get the same results by tracking calories for free.

I think my next challenge will be to track only using MyFitnessPal for a given amount of time to see if my results are the same, or possibly greater. Then I can truly judge which works for me. But for now, I think I'm going to stick to being slightly compulsive and tracking on both. At least until DietBet is over in a week!

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