Total Fat - Misleading or Stumped

Hello from Austin, Tx, USA.

New to MFP, healthy eater, and no nutrition expert.

I find myself consistently going over my daily fat quota. When I dig into Fat, by grams, the algorithm aggregates Saturated, Trans, plus Poly and Mono fats.

For example, looking at the nutrition summary for a day, 67% of the Fat is poly and mono foods such as nuts, chia seeds, ground flax, and olive oil. That’s misleading. One food example: 1/5 cup walnuts display Fat=13.3 grams, yet 82% (11 grams) consists of mono and poly fats.

Gosh, this is misleading and unhelpful.

If you consume many whole foods, as I do, the “good” fat nutrients are available. (I understand that’s not the case with many grocery store items; however, that’s no reason why the developers can't separate good fats from bad for when the data is available.)

QUESTIONs
- Why doesn’t the algorithm subtract or separate the poly and mono fats from Fat, when available, and why isn’t it labeled “Total Fat”?
- Is there a comprehensive custom dashboard that does this, or would I have to download the data and calculate manually? Also frustrating, the custom view is limited to only three nutrients, when protein and carbs are essential, too.
- Hack, anyone?

Suffice to say, I’m vexed and graciously welcome anyone’s knowledge on this topic.

Thank you!
Las

Replies

  • Lietchi
    Lietchi Posts: 3,799 Member
    There are healthier fats (poly and monounsaturated) and less healthy fats (trans and saturated) - add all those up and you have the total fat count. There's nothing misleading or wrong about that.

    If you care about your health, you can make sure your trans fat intake is zero and your saturated fat below the limit given by MFP.

    You can see a more detailed view of your nutrient intake (including the intake per type of fat) in the app, when you tap on the little pie chart symbol at the top of the food diary (I don't use the website, there's probably a way to check that info there too).
  • LogasATX
    LogasATX Posts: 6 Member
    What's misleading is showing 60 grams of total fat, say in a day, and using it as the benchmark -- when in fact the majority are "healthy fats." The detailed view is a laborious calculation per meal and can be calculated programmatically, so why don't they update the App?
  • LogasATX
    LogasATX Posts: 6 Member
    I understand and agree. However, it doesn't address my question of why the developers can't break out healthy vs unhealthy fats at the summary level vs. having to do the math manually. After all, the added value of the service is just this type of convenience. Also, the App doesn't say "Total Fat," but should.
  • Lietchi
    Lietchi Posts: 3,799 Member
    Not sure what you mean by the app not saying 'total fat'. It's shows protein, carbs and fat (and the numbers are totals for the three macros)?
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,463 Member
    You understand that you can customize the columns on your food diary, right? If you don't want to see total fats, but want to see mono/poly fats instead, you can sub those for other columns.
  • ahoy_m8
    ahoy_m8 Posts: 2,785 Member
    edited January 12
    You might find another online calorie and nutrient tracking tool that you like better. I used this one for years: nutritiondata.com.

    Here is the high level summary it provides for fats & fatty acids:
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    Here is the detailed version reduced to fit in a screenshot.
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    Pros:
    more detailed micronutrient breakdown
    database certified USDA (no erroneous user entries)
    all micronutrients available for every food (not limited to a few columns)

    Cons:
    does not keep a log or history; it's one day at a time
    recipe builder ingredients show up as individual prorated entries vs. a single line item
    everything you eat in a day is jumbled together vs. organized into meals
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,867 Member
    edited January 12
    Total fat isn't "misleading." It's one of three macros, and many like to track macros (I do). If you are mostly just interested in limiting "bad fats," then why not track sat fat too? I'm not fanatically about it, but I do look at sat fat and generally try to keep it around or below the limit. As for total fat, there's nothing wrong with going over, and MFP doesn't say there is (unless you think going over protein is considered bad in the MFP dashboard).

    I think you can switch out even macros for other things you are more interested in.

    And as for why it doesn't subtract "healthy fats," because many like to track macros, as noted above, and want macros to add up to 100% ideally, and others are interested in total fat for one reason or another. Not including all fats in the "fat" entry would be misleading, IMO.
  • LogasATX
    LogasATX Posts: 6 Member
    edited January 27
    Thanks, all, and @ahoy_m8 for the nutritiondata.com answer.

    @lemurcat2 @AnnPT77 @Lietchi. It's misleading because the UI doesn't say "Total Fat" (not a big deal). More frustrating, the "food diary" provides only 3 macros to view at a time so there's no way to get a comprehensive scorecard without exporting the data or manual back and forth. View: 1) Sat fat 2) Poly fat 3) Mono fat 4) Trans 5) Carbs 6) Protein. There's no reason why the devs can't accommodate a custom dashboard

    In comparison, the Fooducate App does just this, Total Fat, plus sub-fats, plus each "scannable label" provides an algorithm-based "grade," healthier choice options, and user comments.

    It also sends a daily breakdown of macros and sub-fats via email daily (first 2 images). Works better for me, and maybe others. Thanks -

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  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,867 Member
    edited January 27
    LogasATX wrote: »
    Thanks, all, and @ahoy_m8 for the nutritiondata.com answer.

    @lemurcat2 @AnnPT77 @Lietchi. It's misleading because the UI doesn't say "Total Fat" (not a big deal).

    Fat without a modifier obviously means all fats, however.
    More frustrating, the "food diary" provides only 3 macros to view at a time so there's no way to get a comprehensive scorecard without exporting the data or manual back and forth. View: 1) Sat fat 2) Poly fat 3) Mono fat 4) Trans 5) Carbs 6) Protein. There's no reason why the devs can't accommodate a custom dashboard

    There are only 4 macros (fat, carbs, protein, and alcohol), and MFP provides 6 options (and the three non alcohol macros as defaults, but the default tracked options can be swapped out). Thus, if you want to see subcategories of fat as well as fat you can, and if you want to see them instead of total fat, you can. I think if one were concerned about watching sat fat it would make sense to sub out sodium or sugar for sat fat (or maybe total fat if you don't care about it at all), but I don't personally see the desire to watch poly and mono unsat fat unless you want to watch nutrition in a more detailed fashion than MFP allows (I still don't care about unsat fat generally, but I do prefer to log on Cron in part because it allows me to watch a bunch of nutrition things, including omega-3 vs omega-6).

    So if this is your preference, I get it, I just don't think it's fair to say MFP is "misleading."

    Most of the detailed nutrition background options aren't great unless you mainly eat whole foods, so aren't really label scanning focused IME, but I suppose if you are simply really interested in the subcategories of fat listed on labels, it would be a better option to use something like Fooducate or like I said sub out other of the MFP options (like sodium and sugar) for the subcategories of fat.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,463 Member
    LogasATX wrote: »
    Thanks, all, and @ahoy_m8 for the nutritiondata.com answer.

    @lemurcat2 @AnnPT77 @Lietchi. It's misleading because the UI doesn't say "Total Fat" (not a big deal). More frustrating, the "food diary" provides only 3 macros to view at a time so there's no way to get a comprehensive scorecard without exporting the data or manual back and forth. View: 1) Sat fat 2) Poly fat 3) Mono fat 4) Trans 5) Carbs 6) Protein. There's no reason why the devs can't accommodate a custom dashboard

    (snip)

    I'm not sure what view of the food diary you have that only shows 3 macros at a time?

    For one, there only are 3 macros by definition (fats, protein, carbs), maybe 4 as Lemur pointed out. (I don't think of alcohol as literally a macronutrient, because I don't consider it a nutrient, even though I consume some. It's a thing with calories - 7 of 'em per gram - that's non-nutritional, to me. MFP doesn't have a data field for it, anyway, either.)

    The macro pie chart only shows percents for the 3 macros. One can't just combine unrelated stuff in a pie chart and have something sensible. (Yeah, they could break out fats into subcategories. I don't need them to do that, because I can see that fat breakout in a bunch of other places in MFP, easily, usually just one click away.)

    On web MFP or the phone/tablet app, you can customize your diary columns, though it's limited to 5 columns. You can change columns to the fat subtypes, if that helps you. I believe that the web diary customization settings apply on on the web, the phone/tablet settings only apply there, so if you use both, change both. On the phone/tablet, you need to rotate the screen to portrait to see details on the diary page (and you need auto-rotation enabled, if that's a setting on your phone like it is on mine).

    On web MFP, there's a "view full report" button near the bottom of the page, that will show you some extra columns, let you see multiple dates if you change the selection options. I don't know whether that's customizable.

    On phone/tablet MFP, at least the Android version, the pie chart icon on the diary page (upper right) leads to a page where you can click on "nutrients" and see a day or week list of the nutrients for that day, or the average for that week, of the things MFP tracks. It seems like that's a "comprehensive scorecard", subject to the limitations of things MFP doesn't track because they're not on product labels. Maybe that's not all you need, but it works OK for me.

    On the web, I think the "full report" thing is as comprehensive a single-page display as exists.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,463 Member
    Writing myself to correct, too late to edit.
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    On the phone/tablet, you need to rotate the screen to portrait to see details on the diary page (and you need auto-rotation enabled, if that's a setting on your phone like it is on mine).

    To landscape, not portrait, of course.