In this article I'm going to go over the differences between MyFitnessPal free vs Premium options.
As well as sharing my personal experience using both of them over the years.
So make sure you check out each section and read until the end so you can be clear on which option is right for you at the moment.
If you're new here, my name is Jesse Rosenthal and I'm a Personal Trainer and Online Fitness Coach based in New York with 10 years of experience coaching clients.
And my hope is that after reading this, you'll be clear on whether to stick with the free version of MyFitnessPal, or to upgrade to the premium version.
Before I get into the differences of the two options, I think it will be helpful to share my own experience using both the free and premium versions.
My Own Experience
I personally stuck with the free version of MyFitnessPal for about 3-4 years before finally upgrading to the premium version.
The reason I did this was because I was just getting into tracking my food, but I wasn't doing it very religiously.
My main focus on my fitness at the time was my workouts. And quite frankly, I didn't take my nutrition as seriously as I do now.
So, at the time I was tracking to get a general idea of how much I was eating,
but the additional features for the premium version simply were not something I felt were worth paying for at the time.
Having a general idea of how much I was eating was enough for me.
And I was also much younger and was in college, so spending an extra $50 on an app was not something I was jumping to do.
But as I became a more advanced tracker and got more serious about my fitness, is when I saw the value in paying for premium.
So that I could be as precise as possible with my tracking, see the best possible results, and save myself some time with the additional features.
Not that you need to wait that long as well.
I have many clients who have the premium version of MyFitnessPal who are in their first year tracking their food.
And since they have the proper guidance of a coach, they're able to put the paid features to good use.
But after using the premium version of the app for so long now, I couldn't imagine going back to the free version.
I'm at a place in my fitness & life where I wouldn't think twice about paying a little bit of money to have the convenient features the app offers in the premium version.
Especially for probably the most important part of my fitness program - my macro profile and nutrition.
But just because I have liked using the premium version the last several years, doesn't necessarily mean you need to use it as well.
So let's go over what the premium version offers and see if it might be for you. . .
By the way, if you want to add me as a friend on MyFitnessPal, you're welcome to. My username is "Jesse_Rosenthal8".
I have my food diary set to public, so you can see the exact foods I'm eating to hit my macros daily....In case that's of any help to you.
Differences Between Free & Premium Versions of MyFitnessPal
The premium version of MyFitnessPal costs about $49.99 a year or $9.99 a month. At least that is the price I'm locked in at.
It's possible that has gone up by the time you're reading this.
But in my opinion, the premium version does offer some solid benefits compared to the free version.
There are a few key features that I personally use and get value from.
Which are the following....
1. No Ads
Pretty simple here. This won't help you see better results. But it's nice to not have ads.
2. Set Specific Macros by the Gram.
This means that you can set your target macros for the day to the exact numbers, rather than having to set a certain percentage for your protein, carbs or fats.
Which usually does not equate to the exact amount of grams you're aiming for.
For example, if you're aiming for 205g of protein per day...
In the free version of MyFitnessPal, you wouldn't be able to set it to that exact amount.
You'd have to set your protein target to a certain percentage of your overall calorie intake. Like 20 or 25 or 30%.
Which may come out to be close to that 205g that you want, but it may turn out to be 212 or 198g or some other number.
Not the end of the world, but it's something you do need to keep in mind if you are trying to hit your macros as closely as possible.
Which is why for more advanced trackers or individuals who take their fitness very seriously and track rather diligently, this feature alone could warrant upgrading to premium.
3. "Quick Add" Macros.
This feature allows you to do a "quick add" for a meal and enter in specific amounts of protein, carbs, and fats.
So if you scan the barcode of something you're eating and it doesn't register (which happens from time to time),
you can simply quick add the exact macros from the nutrition label.
And if you're estimating the macros of a meal you eat, you can enter in the full macros, rather than only the overall calories of the meal.
Which is only what the free version allows.
This is another feature I find myself using rather frequently. At least a few times a week.
4. Different Macro targets by day.
This feature allows you to set custom calorie and macronutrient goals for any day of the week.
Which some people may never use or need.
But for individuals who have a weekly refeed day where they're eating more than usual,
or for someone who is calorie cycling to some degree, this feature can be incredibly convenient.
5. Customize Home Screen Dashboard
This allows you to easily see how many macros you have left for the day based on what you've eaten so far.
Which can be really helpful and convenient to quickly glance at the app and see what you have left for the day before preparing dinner or debating if you'll be having an extra snack.
In the free version, to see what specific macros you have left for the day you'd have to go to the menu bar, click on "Nutrition" and see what totals you have left for the day.
Again, not the end of the world. But it's a feature that offers a bit more convenience and saves an extra minute or two of your time.
6. Macros by Meal
This feature shows you a macronutrient breakdown for every meal you log right inside your diary.
Which can be really helpful to see which meals are providing you more protein, carbs, or fats.
And if you're trying to bring up or down a certain macronutrient in the day, it can help you easily see which meals are higher or lower in the macro you're looking at.
For example, if you're trying to get your protein up...
You can look at your 3 meals and see that your breakfast is only getting you 15g of protein. And that would be an area to add in a higher protein food like egg whites or turkey bacon, or some other protein source.
This feature isn't necessarily a game changer, but it can offer some more insights that are helpful.
Other Premium Features...
There are several other premium features that I don't personally use or even tell my clients about because I don't think they are necessary or add much value.
But maybe that is different for you. So here are some additional Premium tools:
- Priority Customer Support
- Food Analysis
- Exercise Calorie Settings
- Data Export
- Setting Calorie Goals By Meal
- Food Timestamps
- Food plans
- Recipe ideas
- Net carbs
- Workout ideas
Who Should Stick With the Free Version of MyFitnessPal?
As I mentioned at the beginning, I stuck with the free version of the app for 3-4 years before upgrading.
Not that you should do the same. But you can absolutely still see results by sticking with the free version.
And to be honest, I wouldn't try to discourage anyone who wanted to upgrade, not to do so.
Because the truth is, it's such a small investment ($49.99 a year) for a tool that can have such massive upside for your fitness and health.
Especially considering that people are commonly spending more money than that on other fitness related options/products.
(gym memberships, juice cleanses, detox teas, supplements, cookie cutter programs, etc.)
So, overall I think this an investment in your fitness that is a better one and can be really helpful long term as long as you're consistently tracking your food.
That being said, there's really only two reasons I would probably recommend sticking with the free version, rather than encouraging your to upgrade right now...
If you're not using a food scale.
If you're someone who isn't (and hasn't in the past) used a food scale to weigh out your foods...
I would probably say that upgrading to the premium version right now might not make the most sense.
The reason for that is because if you aren't using a food scale, you're likely not tracking your macros very accurately.
(sorry to break the news to ya)
Even if you're doing it relatively well, there's almost certainly plenty of room for improvement. (speaking from personal experience lol)
So in my opinion, if you aren't tracking very accurately to begin with,
then it's probably not necessary to pay for more advanced tools to tracking that food.
It's almost like a 16 year old kid driving a car for the first time...
He probably doesn't need a NASCAR car just to learn how to steer, press on the gas, and just to learn how to drive.
I was very hesitant to use a food scale when I first started tracking my food. I thought I was doing it very well without the scale.
Well, I was wrong haha.
It was a shock to me when I realized how much more accurately you can track when you weigh your foods out.
Originally, I thought it was going to be a pain in the ass to use the food scale to track my food.
But it only takes 10-20 seconds at each meal and it ensures that you know exactly how much you're eating of a certain food.
2. If you're not tracking 6-7 days a week.
In my opinion, someone should be consistently doing the habit of tracking their food a good 6-7 days of the week before upgrading to the premium version.
So if you're only tracking a few times a week, or Monday through Thursday and then don't track on the weekends....
It could make sense to stick with the free version of the app.
Which seems logical, right? Only upgrade to the premium version if you're consistently using the tool already.
Who Might Want to Upgrade to the Premium Version of MyFitnessPal?
If you check any of these boxes below, I'm confident that upgrading to the premium version of MyFitnessPal could be a good option for you.
- You consistently track your food weekly.
- You consider yourself relatively serious about your fitness.
- You use a food scale when tracking your food.
- You read through the features above and think they can add value for you.
- You've been using the free version of MFP for a while now and know you'll be using it going forward.
Like I said, I've used the premium version for many years now and I find that the convenience of a few key features makes it easily worth it for me.
Being able to set your specific target macros by the exact gram.
Being able to "quick add" a food with the full macros.
Being able to set a specific day of the week for different target macros for my refeed day.
And simply being able to open the app and immediately see on the home page how many grams of protein, carbs, and fats I have left for that day...
Are enough to make my nutrition more convenient and a bit easier.
I hope this article helped you make a decision for yourself as to whether you should stick with the free version of MyFitnessPal or upgrade to the premium version.
If you have any specific questions about this, feel free to shoot me an email (info@RoseFitnessNY.com).