How to Eat Like a Successful MyFitnessPal User

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How to Eat Like a Successful MyFitnessPal User

The New Year: the end of the holiday season and the official start of resolution season. The number one resolution made across the land: weight loss.

This makes it the perfect time for us to take a look at user behavior across Under Armour’s 150 million users, and do a deep dive into the trends we’ve seen behind the eating habits of our most successful users.  

In order to break out the data, we first had to make some definitions. In this case, we’ve defined “successful users” as those who have set a weight-loss goal, and are within 5% of reaching that goal. We then compared insights about those users with those from the rest of the database. We wanted to answer the questions: Are they eating differently than the rest of us? What are they doing that others aren’t?

What we found out can hopefully help you with your journey.

First, the nutritional breakdown of what successful users have been eating might surprise you.

We were wondering—would we see fewer carbs? Less sugar? Lower fat intake?

We saw none of that.

For the most part, all of the users we looked at had a similar breakdown in terms of calories. They have very similar calorie goals, and they’re logging comparable percentages of fat, carbohydrates, sugar and protein. Where they differed? Fiber.

Successful users ate a whopping 29% more fiber on average.

Successful_Users_Infographic_sec2

However, they still have not been eating the daily recommended amount of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.

Studies have shown that simply focusing on increasing fiber intake can be hugely impactful on your health. It’s not surprising that higher fiber leads to successful outcomes.

Conclusion one: Users that have been successful in losing weight on MyFitnessPal ate 30% more fiber. And yet, there’s vast room for improvement.

Dietitian recommendation: If you resolve to do one thing this year, meet the daily fiber recommendations.

What do successful users eat, compared to the rest of the database? They ate less meat (11% less) and fewer eggs (13% less), but more yogurt (10%) and more almonds (10%). They ate lots more healthful oils and nuts as well. While we were at it, we figured it would make sense to look at year over year trends.

What did people eat more or less of this year? We saw some interesting results, in terms of what’s on the rise. For example, avocado oil is up 77% and coconut oil is up nearly 16%. Meanwhile, people have been eating far fewer grains (18.7%), less bread (-9.6%), cereal (-20%) and pasta (-12.75%). These numbers are in line with diet trends that emphasize healthy fats and encourage lower consumption of carbohydrates.

We were surprised to see that, in many cases, the eating habits of successful users have been bucking the trends.

  • Olive oil has long been linked to a healthful diet, and there are countless studies that tout the health benefits of this Mediterranean staple. That said, it has experienced a drop in popularity over the last several years, dropping 12% this year alone. Successful users still ate 10% more olive oil than the rest of the population.
  • Cereal consumption has been falling to the tune of 20% in the last year, despite much evidence that a bowl of flakes can be a great way to start the day. Successful users back up that idea—they ate 17% more cereal than the rest of the database.
  • Eggs are filling the plates of more and more users year over year—probably those who are replacing carbohydrates with protein sources. There has been a 20% jump in egg consumption during the last year alone. Our successful users, however, ate 13% fewer eggs than the rest of the database.
  • Yogurt has been linked to smaller waist circumference and lower body mass index, weight and body fat, according to studies. However, users ate 11% less yogurt last year than the year before. We saw the opposite trend with successful users. They ate on average 11% more yogurt than the rest of the population. They also ate 13% more Greek yogurt!

This infographic gives you information, at a glance, of 12 foods that have been movers and shakers this year, along with their popularity among our most successful users.

Successful_Users_Infographic_SEC1

METHODOLOGY:

All analyses were conducted on a sample of 4.2 million MyFitnessPal users in the USA, all of whom: were recently active on the app, had originally signed up with a goal of losing weight,  and had recorded at least two weight measurements in MyFitnessPal. We compared that data to a sample of about 427,000 who were within 5% of their stated goal weight at the time the data were pulled. The comparisons look at differences in diet and exercise habits between that set of 427,000 “successful” users versus all of the other 3.8 million users in the sample.

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  • Chelin Jamie Hu

    This is some very interesting result! Especially the polar differences bw the general trend and the successful users! I also would like to know how much daily physical activity or exercise/workout that the successful people are averaging compared to the rest.

  • petrius_stew

    interesting about eggs

  • Jason Moraz

    Very interesting. I’d be interested to also hear the average weight and average amount of pounds loss within this same sample

  • Great article. Trying to do no meat and no dairy myself..

  • Hhotelconsult

    This is when it gets interesting… parsing the amount of existing datas to better hone in on all this stuff. I don’t want to be boring, and I am a bit of a neophyte, but if an algorithm could accurately inform me of what I should eat and when based on my work out schedule, it would be so awesome.

  • Beth

    Even successful users only eat 13 grams of fiber?! Wow…
    Although I think what I’m most blown away by is how much cereal successful users eat. I had to stop eating cereal–and switched to eggs– years ago because my experience was that cereal made me hungry within hours. Not only that, but most cereals just make me want to eat more cereal– I could never eat just one bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats, or Special K. Frosted mini wheats are the only cereal that I can both a) find palatable (sorry Grape Nuts) and b) eat non-insane amounts of.
    I think these results are interesting for sure, but I don’t plan on modifying what’s working for me already. But I could see it being helpful for some still figuring out what works for them!

  • Teri B

    The nerd in me loves this data. <3