How to use the USDA food Database + MFP food Database for accurate logging.

I posted this in a thread but someone requested that i move it to a thread on its own. I am going to add a bit more to it though!

So one of the most common issues with MFP and new(er) users is their logging. A lot of the times that people can be struggling with weight loss and can't understand why as it seems they are eating within their calories is because of that. While there are other reasons for weight loss struggles, the easiest one people can attempt to solve on their own and see if that helps is their logging accuracy and their use of the MFP database.

A lot of people don't know this but the food database here on MFP is created by users just like you. They were added through community contribution and that is why you will find so many different bits of information for something simple like boneless skinless chicken breast.

I am a food scale advocate but the food scale is not for everyone, some people do have success without one but for those who do struggle especially when it's those last few pounds, a food scale can definitely help! They are an inexpensive item that can be purchased online or at walmart or a hardware store!

But, enough about food scales. I want to talk about how to use the MFP database more effectively for logging accuracy.

Experienced loggers are probably very familiar with a search engine called the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) food database.

It can be located here.
https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list

This website is where you will find the nutritional information for just about everything right at your finger tips, especially those foods out there with no bar code. (Although you shouldn't always trust the bar codes either, as they are also user added, so always double check that information for proper accuracy as well!)

Using the USDA database is a great way to know that the MFP food database entry you have selected is accurate. Once you have selected the correct MFP database entry it will then be there for you to use over and over again.

So here is a step by step on how to use the USDA food database to find the correct MFP food entries in the database.

We are going to use Raw Boneless skinless Chicken breast as an example.

When it comes to meats, I always weigh raw when possible. You can find cooked nutritional information also in the USDA database but if you can avoid it and can weigh your meats raw, it's recommended.

So in the USDA Database (https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list)
I am going to go up to the search box and i am going to type in "Boneless skinless chicken breast, Raw"

6bfpq253mdn9.png

A list of options will pop up, we are going to select the first one where it says "Meat only, Raw"

Once we select that option from the drop down box a new page will open, it's standard starting point is to display the nutritional information for a 100g weight. You will also see an Oz option next to it but grams is more accurate so i prefer to weigh in gram weight.

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Now. If i was planning on eating 250 grams of chicken for dinner tonight, I would enter "2.5" in the box to replace where it says "1" in the grams column and then i would hit enter. This will update all the nutritional information displayed inside that column (Note: It does not update every column)

aitiamn90mva.png

We can now see the amount of Calories, Carbs, Fat, Protein and Fiber that 250g of Boneless Skinless Chicken breast, raw, has.

So now once we have that information we can then go over to MFP and search their food database.

When i click on "add food" I am going to search for "USDA Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, Raw"

As you can see you do still get a variety of different results, however, the one way to find the right database entry is to remember that before we changed the number to "2.5" from "1" in the USDA database entry.. it gave us it's standard starting point.

bkzad6feib11.png

This is where we saw that 100g of raw chicken is 120 calories.

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So, I selected the second one in the list since that is displaying as 100g is 120 calories.

Now before we add it to our food log, we can also check and make sure all the other information is also accurate.
You can simply click on the "Nutrition info" button and compare the results to the USDA database for 100g or you can use the 2.5 changed info and simply put "2.5" in the MFP entry as well before clicking on "Nutrition info"

Hitting nutrition info will have another box pop up in a new window.

6ou2yt70zcmf.png

And when we compare it to the changes we made on the USDA database...

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We will see that the information (MFP rounds it's numbers up/down) is displayed as accurately as possible.

From there we can then go back, and either change it to the amount we will be eating, or if you already entered that, like i did with 2.5, then you can simply go back and click "Add food to diary"

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Where it will then properly display for you in gram weight.

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This database can be used for not just meats but also veggies and fruits and anything else as well that is challenging to log without any nutritional information attached.

It might seem like a bit more extra work, but as i said, once you do it once, it's done, that database entry is now yours to use. Having tighter more accurate logging can really change the out come of your weekly weigh ins, especially for those eating more then they think they are, it could also mean more calories to use for those logging foods with too many calories for what they are eating.

Anyway I hope this visual helps some people out!
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Replies

  • HellYeahItsKriss
    HellYeahItsKriss Posts: 906 Member
    jemhh wrote: »
    Great post!

    I will just add that when you search in the MFP database if you include the number that's in the USDA title (05062 in this example) you tend to get the right result at the top of the list.

    Thank you :)
  • GottaBurnEmAll
    GottaBurnEmAll Posts: 7,722 Member
    Awesome post, thank you for making it. I know it will help a lot of people.
  • HellYeahItsKriss
    HellYeahItsKriss Posts: 906 Member
    Actually, once you have the exact language used by the USDA database, you're better off not typing "USDA" when you search the MFP database. Entries that say "USDA" typically were entered by MFP users. You're more likely to find the original entry added directly by MFP if you omit "USDA." For the same reason, I wouldn't search for the standard reference number. Those entries also typically appear to have been added by MFP users. That's not to say that all of the original MFP-added entries, that include both volume and mass serving units in the same entry (a huge hint that it wasn't added by a user), are correct. (I'm looking at you, thousand-calorie clover of garlic.)

    Thanks for doing this, Kris.

    Lol.. poor garlic..
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 32,492 Member
    Thanks, well done. I saw this earlier.

    :flowerforyou:


    HOW HARD would it be to fix the garlic?
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 32,492 Member
    edited December 2017
    Thanks, well done. I saw this earlier.

    :flowerforyou:


    HOW HARD would it be to fix the garlic?

    I think it gets fixed every so often and then breaks in the next update. Very special garlic indeed.

    I'm starting to think it's like kitten. Like they want to leave it that way. It's a portal or something. (I'm watching "Once Upon A Time" right now...)


    Thanks for doing this, Kris. I bookmarked the other post earlier...but it's way better to bookmark a new thread. I see it's gotten a few votes already for Sticky! Yay.
  • lynn_glenmont
    lynn_glenmont Posts: 9,473 Member
    The trick on the garlic, BTW, is to use the "three cloves" serving option (and just log .33 if you only used one clove). At least, that's what's worked lately. (I know, I know, "weigh solids" -- for things that weigh less than three or four grams, my scale tends to assume it's getting bad data and re-tares itself.)
  • HellYeahItsKriss
    HellYeahItsKriss Posts: 906 Member
    edited December 2017
    Thanks, well done. I saw this earlier.

    :flowerforyou:


    HOW HARD would it be to fix the garlic?

    I think it gets fixed every so often and then breaks in the next update. Very special garlic indeed.

    I'm starting to think it's like kitten. Like they want to leave it that way. It's a portal or something. (I'm watching "Once Upon A Time"


    Thanks for doing this, Kris. I bookmarked the other post earlier...but it's way better to bookmark a new thread. Imma suggest this one for Sticky.
    I used to watch that show.. i think i stopped watching after Emma went all darky-poo.

    And Thank you :)
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 32,492 Member
    Thanks, well done. I saw this earlier.

    :flowerforyou:


    HOW HARD would it be to fix the garlic?

    I think it gets fixed every so often and then breaks in the next update. Very special garlic indeed.

    I'm starting to think it's like kitten. Like they want to leave it that way. It's a portal or something. (I'm watching "Once Upon A Time"


    Thanks for doing this, Kris. I bookmarked the other post earlier...but it's way better to bookmark a new thread. Imma suggest this one for Sticky.
    I used to watch that show.. i think i stopped watching after Emma went all darky-poo.

    And Thank you :)

    Ugh. Fixed that for you. I'm binge-watching it. Say no more.

  • HellYeahItsKriss
    HellYeahItsKriss Posts: 906 Member
    Oh LOL.. sorry this was like... years ago, so i assumed this was new stuff hahaha
  • Nony_Mouse
    Nony_Mouse Posts: 5,647 Member
    Thanks, well done. I saw this earlier.

    :flowerforyou:


    HOW HARD would it be to fix the garlic?

    I think it gets fixed every so often and then breaks in the next update. Very special garlic indeed.

    I'm starting to think it's like kitten. Like they want to leave it that way. It's a portal or something. (I'm watching "Once Upon A Time"


    Thanks for doing this, Kris. I bookmarked the other post earlier...but it's way better to bookmark a new thread. Imma suggest this one for Sticky.
    I used to watch that show.. i think i stopped watching after Emma went all darky-poo.

    And Thank you :)

    Ugh. Fixed that for you. I'm binge-watching it. Say no more.

    I am so far behind, like a couple of seasons at least I think. And on most other stuff, even current seasons of things I usually watch avidly. The annoying thing of have US show seasons coincide with NZ summer. Can't bring myself to watch things in the evening when it's still light out, and my nana bedtime requires going to bed not long after dark if I want a decent night's sleep.

    I can't bring myself to suffer through the last few episodes of The Walking Dead from last season, so not a clue what's happening there. I'm assuming not much.

    Awesome post Kris!!
  • HellYeahItsKriss
    HellYeahItsKriss Posts: 906 Member
    Nony_Mouse wrote: »
    Thanks, well done. I saw this earlier.

    :flowerforyou:


    HOW HARD would it be to fix the garlic?

    I think it gets fixed every so often and then breaks in the next update. Very special garlic indeed.

    I'm starting to think it's like kitten. Like they want to leave it that way. It's a portal or something. (I'm watching "Once Upon A Time"


    Thanks for doing this, Kris. I bookmarked the other post earlier...but it's way better to bookmark a new thread. Imma suggest this one for Sticky.
    I used to watch that show.. i think i stopped watching after Emma went all darky-poo.

    And Thank you :)

    Ugh. Fixed that for you. I'm binge-watching it. Say no more.

    I am so far behind, like a couple of seasons at least I think. And on most other stuff, even current seasons of things I usually watch avidly. The annoying thing of have US show seasons coincide with NZ summer. Can't bring myself to watch things in the evening when it's still light out, and my nana bedtime requires going to bed not long after dark if I want a decent night's sleep.

    I can't bring myself to suffer through the last few episodes of The Walking Dead from last season, so not a clue what's happening there. I'm assuming not much.

    Awesome post Kris!!

    You know... i am a walking dead fan x 10000 ... but I have not seen this season yet since it started.
    I've been contemplating maybe just waiting until its done and then watching them all.. i don't have cable so they don't come online until monday for me, but by the time i work, get home, etc, im fall asleep by 8pm. lol
    The boyfriend wants to watch all the resident evil movies, Weve watched a couple, so maybe that will bring me back around to wanting more zombie goodness... oddly though... well maybe not all that odd haha.. i can't remember how the last season ended =/ lol that also could be why i don't seem to be pouncing the new season yet.
  • Nony_Mouse
    Nony_Mouse Posts: 5,647 Member
    Nony_Mouse wrote: »
    Thanks, well done. I saw this earlier.

    :flowerforyou:


    HOW HARD would it be to fix the garlic?

    I think it gets fixed every so often and then breaks in the next update. Very special garlic indeed.

    I'm starting to think it's like kitten. Like they want to leave it that way. It's a portal or something. (I'm watching "Once Upon A Time"


    Thanks for doing this, Kris. I bookmarked the other post earlier...but it's way better to bookmark a new thread. Imma suggest this one for Sticky.
    I used to watch that show.. i think i stopped watching after Emma went all darky-poo.

    And Thank you :)

    Ugh. Fixed that for you. I'm binge-watching it. Say no more.

    I am so far behind, like a couple of seasons at least I think. And on most other stuff, even current seasons of things I usually watch avidly. The annoying thing of have US show seasons coincide with NZ summer. Can't bring myself to watch things in the evening when it's still light out, and my nana bedtime requires going to bed not long after dark if I want a decent night's sleep.

    I can't bring myself to suffer through the last few episodes of The Walking Dead from last season, so not a clue what's happening there. I'm assuming not much.

    Awesome post Kris!!

    You know... i am a walking dead fan x 10000 ... but I have not seen this season yet since it started.
    I've been contemplating maybe just waiting until its done and then watching them all.. i don't have cable so they don't come online until monday for me, but by the time i work, get home, etc, im fall asleep by 8pm. lol
    The boyfriend wants to watch all the resident evil movies, Weve watched a couple, so maybe that will bring me back around to wanting more zombie goodness... oddly though... well maybe not all that odd haha.. i can't remember how the last season ended =/ lol that also could be why i don't seem to be pouncing the new season yet.

    I queued up whatever episode I'd gotten up to so many times, and just couldn't bring myself to do it. I had hoped it would be like Season 2, where the first half sucked and then OMG so good!! But friends who I trust on these things assure me that did not happen. Maybe next winter I'll just hibernate and watch everything :D
  • HellYeahItsKriss
    HellYeahItsKriss Posts: 906 Member
    I am trying so hard to remember last season.. i mean.. the show is definitely in a different place now then it was by season 2.. lol.. I don't think i had a complaint at all about last season... i think.... if i can remember it. haha.. I had a co worker just waiting for that tool to die... (Can't remember his name either apparently)... its scary how much my brain just erases things from my mind... im used to not being able to remember a lot of my past.. but.. seriously.. lol
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 32,492 Member
    Good morning.