Popular Fitness App MyFitnessPal Adds Calorie Counts For Restaurant Meals

Popular Fitness App MyFitnessPal Adds Calorie Counts For Restaurant Meals
[Photo: Flickr user Sarah]

Curious about how many calories are in that latte?

MyFitnessPal, the fitness app used by 100 million people, now includes restaurant menus with a full list of calorie counts for each item.

The team at MyFitnessPal said they surveyed their users in the U.S. and found that the average person eats out at least once a week. “We were surprised by the frequency,” Albert Lee, the company’s cofounder, told Fast Company.

The company also found that people who were trying to lose weight were struggling to find the restaurants with the healthiest options. But some 80% of them said they would look at nutritional information if it were available.

“We knew that it was a pretty big pain point for customers,” Lee said.

So the company decided to take a multi-pronged approach to gather the data: They scraped restaurants’ websites for calorie information, grabbed menu data that restaurants had inputted in the app, and reviewed notes from users to make an educated estimate of the calorie range.

MyFitnessPal, which is now owned by Under Armour, plans to use this data to give some educated guidance in the future. For instance, the app might come up with a list of options if a user is looking for a 500-calorie meal within a mile or two.

Lee said restaurants will likely continue to publish their nutritional information. But in the meantime, the company can get pretty far by analyzing information gathered from millions of users. “We can create a pretty powerful tool when we combine data science,” he said.