How Tech Can Help To Stay On Track With Your Diet

20 Minute Fitness Episode #61

On today’s 20 Minute Fitness episode we’re focusing on dieting and nutrition tracking. But instead of discussing specific diets or giving you “the best” advice on what you should or shouldn’t eat, Charlie talks about apps and gadgets that can come real handy in your everyday life. Press play to learn how technology can help to stay on track with your diet!

Three Things You Will Learn

1) Apps For Basic Calorie & Macronutrient Tracking

Yes yes we all know about the MyFitnessPals and LoseIts, but you can also find other, potentially better apps on the App Store. MyNetDiary Pro, for example, was ranked as the #1 mobile diet app in a study conducted by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. An area where MyNetDiary seems to excel is the accuracy of foods and their nutrient contents in their library.

Tune in to hear about the other cool features of MyNetDiary and to meet Yazio, another great nutrition tracking app!

2) It’s All About Personalization

Moving to the mid-range category, we talk about apps that put the spotlight on personalization. 8Fit, which is both a workout and meal planner, uses a personal assessment when you first open the app to create your unique diet plan. This diet plan is entirely based on your personal data, health & fitness goals and activity level.

Check Out The Best Calorie & Macro Tracking Apps

The Rise app takes this a step further. These guys connect you with a real nutrition coach, who becomes your personal diet whisperer. Listen to this week’s episode to get an insight into how virtual nutrition coaching will keep you accountable!

3) How To Hack Your Metabolism

One of the most exciting innovations in this arena that we have seen in the recent years is Lumen. Lumen is a tiny gadget that gives you real-time personalized nutrition advice based on your breath. And no, it is not magic, it’s pure science.

All you have to do is breath into the Lumen device, which, based on the concentration of the different gases in your breath, will tell what your body is currently burning – carbs or fat. Once Lumen knows what you’re burning, it will also know what you should eat. Press play to learn more!

Boost Your Metabolism With These Nutrition Hacks


Sticking to your diet is important, but taking care of your health is even more important. Good news is that Ritual, the obsessively-researched vitamin for women, is here to help!

Ritual’s Essentials have the nutrients most of us don’t get enough of from our diets – all in their purest, cleanest forms. No shady additives or ingredients that actually do more harm to your body than good. With Ritual, it only takes two easy-to-take capsules to provide nine nutrients you need to build a stronger foundation for better health.

Visit ritual.com/shape to learn more and start your ritual today!

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Full Transcript

00:05 Speaker 1: Hello and welcome back to another episode of 20 Minute Fitness. I hope you’re still really enjoying the direction of the podcast and you’ve started thinking about how technology can help you to optimise your health and fitness. We’ve explored a number of different gadgets and what they can do for our health or our training, and we’d be really eager to learn whether you’ve incorporated any of the devices into your life. I’ve started to use a sleep cycle app from the How Technology Can Help You Sleep Better episode, and I find it’s really actually helping me pay more attention to my sleep. So if you have started using something, definitely get in touch with us, or if you’d like us to cover an episode of How The Technology Can Help series, then please do get in touch. Of course, before we jump into this episode, don’t forget to subscribe on whichever podcast player you listen to your podcasts on, tell all your friends and family about 20 Minute Fitness, and if you are enjoying it, please do leave a rating or review on iTunes.

00:54 S1: 20 Minute Fitness is powered by ShapeScale. ShapeScale is a 3D body scanning scale. You simply step on, and the 3D body scanner will move around your body, capturing all sorts of incredible body data. This data is then sent to your phone, and you’ll be able to see all sorts of incredible insights, such as your body fat percentage, your lean muscle mass, and your muscle girth measurements, so it really does give you a comprehensive understanding of your fitness progress. It is now available for pre-order at shapescale.com.


01:22 S1: So for today’s episode, we’re going to look at how technology can help you to stay on track with your diet during the holidays, and you’re probably thinking, “Why wasn’t this episode here during the Christmas period? Because I overindulged, I went off my diet, I obviously ate way too much,” like I did. But we thought, with future holidays planned, and the Easter period obviously not too far away, you could potentially incorporate some of the technology we’re gonna talk about here into your future diet regimes to help you prevent another diet malfunction like the one you might just have had, so let’s start off by looking at the accessible category. We all know the powerhouse apps like MyFitnessPal or Lose It, you probably tried those out before and they are your macro calorie tracking apps, they have an extensive directory of food options, but I wanted to give a few different options for you to try out.

02:08 S1: So the first one we’re going to look at is MyNetDiary Pro, and according to a study conducted by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, MyNetDiary was rated the number one mobile diet app, as it incorporates the most evidence-based behavioural weight loss strategies proven to be effective, and the study also included the favourites like Lose It and MyFitnessPal, so this is definitely something to start thinking about. Much like MyFitnessPal, it allows you to track your calories you consume, and you’ll be able to see statistics like your macronutrient breakdown, the calorie content of the food you eat, and you can also start constructing the ratio you want to eat your macronutrients in. So for example, if you’re following a keto diet, you might want to consume more fat and less carbohydrate and you can see when you’ve fulfilled those different macro requirements, so you’d obviously set your fats higher than your carbohydrates.

02:56 S1: Obviously, to lose weight, or just to stay on track, you don’t need to follow a specific diet, that’s optional because we all know it’s calories in, calories out, whether you’re eating a calorie surplus or you’re in a calorie deficit. MyNetDiary tracks 45 different nutrients, or micronutrients, and so it’ll help you learn about these different nutrients, such as fibre, saturated fats as well, so you can start to build a balanced diet once you get a better understanding of these different nutrients. What I quite like about MyNetDiary is that the vast majority of foods in the database are actually added by the company themselves, because I’ve found that some apps, like MyFitnessPal in the past, when you search for the product you’re trying to find, there’s quite often lots of different duplicates of the food, and it’s quite difficult to know which one to go for. And that’s because, quite often, the duplicates are input by users themselves rather than the actual company, so you don’t know whether they’re going to be that accurate, but MyNetDiary allows you to ensure you’re saving your accuracy and your time because they have uploaded most themselves. And if they haven’t got a food type that you want to include in the app, then you can simply send them a photo and they’ll enter the nutrients for you.

04:01 S1: Another cool feature is that you can see a daily analysis screen, which gives you your daily energy balance, so you can see whether you’re in a caloric equilibrium, or a surplus, or a deficit, and the app compares your nutrient totals with recommendations by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, so you can develop more understanding of what national health standards are like, and then carry this knowledge forward into your future eating regimes and things like that, and these habits can then be reinforced by the tips and recommendations the app gives you on your habits. And then obviously, at the end of the week, you could then analyse your week and see if you took those tips on board, and see if your weekly goal was what you hoped it would be and if you’ve achieved it.

04:35 S1: The rudimentary level of the app is free, that includes the tracking features, but you need to unlock the further features like the weekly analysis, the photo food service whereby you can send in pictures to MyNetDiary Pro, and the recipe editor cost $3.99. And for a subscription approach, if you’re paying $8.99 a month, you can even track your mood, your sleep, your blood glucose, your medication. Lots and lots of different options there if you want to able to use it as a comprehensive tracker of all these different components of your life. And you also get a cool autopilot which adjusts your diet plan to make sure you meet your targets. But you don’t have to invest in the paid version of the app. Kay Holt, an editor at Wired Magazine, actually lost 20 lbs using the free version of the app alone. So give that a try, see if you’re enjoying it, see if you prefer it to MyFitnessPal or Lose It, and then just try and decide whether you think you need to move to a more premium version of the app.

05:29 S1: The second app we’re going to look at is Yazio. Yazio currently has more than 1 million people using the app, and again, it’s similar to the well-known calorie counting apps. It’s supported by a website, which is also quite useful. It offers a plethora of healthy recipes, or meals, or diet plans, and also gives you motivational, practical tips to set you on the path to being a healthier version of yourself. Like MyFitnessPal, it has an integrated barcode scanner, so you can quickly look up thousands of foods. You can set your personal goal plan and track your results, whether that be to lose weight, or be consistent with your diet, or eat a surplus to try and put on strength and get a bit bigger, and you can see the results of your daily nutrition visually. You can also turn on Coach Tips for more motivation, and you can check the accuracy of entered foods by seeing whether or not they’ve got a little check by them, which means that Yazio has entered the food themselves.

06:19 S1: Yazio also lets you log your fitness progress, so that’s an additional benefit there and you can choose from over 200 registered sports. And most people I’ve come across have actually said they prefer the interface and have experienced less problems with the barcode scanner, for example, when compared to MyFitnessPal or Lose It, so you might find you actually prefer the user experience of using Yazio, so give that a try as well.

06:40 S1: So the next app, which really could go at the top end of the spectrum of the accessible category or the bottom end of the mid-level accessibility category is 8Fit and 8Fit is both a workout and meal planner. So how does it work? So after downloading the app, you’re prompted to enter your personal information, so your gender, your height, your weight and other specifics about your body type as well as your goals, and the goal really isn’t centred around how to drop weight the fastest, obviously it can help if that’s one of your priorities, but it tries to get you to be your healthiest self. Once you put that information in, the app then asks you to complete your profile by putting in your fitness benchmark. So for example, how many times in a week do you typically work out? How many push-ups can you do in one go? And then it’ll place you in a category or a level inside the app, so there’s the workout planning side of the app, where they give you 11 minutes high intensity workouts to help you burn any excess calories you might have and you’ll, as I said, be put into a different category. So it could be the Masters level category in level five.

07:42 S1: But what we’re really interested in is the meal plans, and people rave about the level of customisation that the meal plans offer them. So the meal plans are created based on the information you filled out for your profile to try and determine your exact nutritional needs. So it tries as much as possible to tailor it to each individual person. So if you’re someone that typically works out more, you’ll probably get a tailored diet plan that includes more snacks that are more carbohydrates to give you the energy to power you through those workouts. For the fussy eaters, you can also leave out individual ingredients out of the suggested meals rather than eliminating entire food groups, and if you’re someone who likes to meal prep, if you’ve got a busy schedule and you wanna make your meals for the week, this is also an option. You can get the same breakfast, lunch and dinner, obviously not that diverse, but it can be quite useful, as I said, if you’ve got a really busy routine, and then it will pull together a comprehensive shopping list so you know exactly how much of each item and each ingredient you need to buy. You can get a free trial and use some of the features of the app for free. However, with 8Fit it’s probably recommended to go for the 8Fit Pro and this can be purchased for three months or yearly, and it costs around $30 for three months or $60 for a year, so not bad for a personalised meal and diet plan daily as well.

08:57 S1: We’re now moving onto the sort of medium category now, and our first product is again an app and this time it is Rise Nutrition and Weight Loss Coach. So Rise is an app that connects you with a coach to take the guesswork out of dieting and give you all the accountability you need. So what services do they offer? Well, Rise allows you to share your meals and your exercises with your coach and your coach will then analyse your meals and will work with you daily to ensure you’re getting the balanced meals you need and whether there’re any improvements they can give you about your dish. If you’re lacking in any carbohydrates, for example, if you’re about to work out or if you don’t have enough protein on your plate or if you have too much, if the quantity you’re eating is just too great. And your coach will also set you challenges and motivate you to achieving those challenges, that’s really cool. Say you’re going to try and lose this much in two weeks’ time, and so that can really give you a sense of accountability, you want to not let them down, you want to do it for yourself and your coach and it gives you a sense of accountability. Someone’s going to be checking whether you’ve actually got to that goal or not. Rise is so confident you’ll manage to lose weight following their coach’s advice that they allow you a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.

09:58 S1: So obviously the really cool thing about Rise is that a personalised diet coach, if you were to do it privately, could cost you hundreds of dollars an hour, but Rise gives you this service for $48 a month. So I really think someone benefits a lot from Rise if they have tried a calorie-tracking app before, if they find them insanely annoying and frustrating having to type in the numbers and they find it very restrictive because in this way your coach can guide you. You won’t have to keep logging every single food you eat. If you’re prone to yo-yo dieting your coach will keep you solid on the straight and narrow path, and if you’re prone to over-indulging over the holiday period they’ll also keep you on track towards your goals. Before moving onto the next gadget, at this stage I’d really like to thank our sponsor.

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11:28 S2: I have a very busy schedule too, so finding time to go and buy my vitamins or remembering which capsule to take when was always a pain. I actually hated taking vitamins. But with Ritual’s subscription system that you can start by a click of a button and snooze whenever, I get my 30-day vitamin pack delivered to my doorstep every month.

11:47 S2: It is only two capsules that I can take either in the morning or in the evening that cost $1 per day and my body gets all the essential nutrients it needs, and all of this comes with a fresh minty flavour. How cool is that? Better health doesn’t happen overnight. Start your New Year with Essential for women, a small step that helps create a healthy foundation for 2019 and beyond. Visit ritual.com/shape to start your ritual today. That’s ritual.com/shape.

12:16 S1: So our next product is towards the high-end of the mid-level accessibility category, and it is Lumen. And Lumen is a new device currently on IndieGoGo that has raised $2 million. But what is it and how does it work? I have, it’s really interesting actually, so with Lumen actually, you breathe into the device and your metabolism is measured. So with one breath into the device, Lumen will tell you whether you’re currently burning carbohydrates or fat for energy. So if you take a breath in the morning, Lumen will create a personalised diet plan for you for the day. So it may recommend having a low carb diet and then show illustrations of what you might enjoy, what different meals it could recommend that would be based off a low-carb diet. And that could be if you’ve had a big, heavy carb meal the night before, it would then know that you need to have a low-carb meal the next morning.

13:02 S1: You could breathe before a workout, see whether you have enough energy to power you through that workout properly, you should have some fuel in the tank. So they might recommend if you haven’t had any carbohydrate-dense food, then you need to eat some carbohydrate before starting the workout. Lumen promises that it will tell you the why’s behind why your weight is fluctuating and this is obviously what is the crux of it, really. People get so hung up on why they might have gone up three pounds or four pounds or down three pounds, where they don’t think they’ve eaten a calorie surplus or in a calorie deficit, and there’s so many different factors that come into it.

13:29 S1: So, if it does deliver on this feature it will be quite revolutionary for many people obsessed with their weight and their diet. So as an example, Lumen might say that you’re three pounds heavier today because of the excess water and glycogen you stored from the consumption of more carbs. So you’ll start to build up this understanding of food effects, you’ll start to understand over time that if you have a high carb dense meal you might wake up heavier because you’re storing more water, so you shouldn’t fret and then you shouldn’t go out and then try and burn as many calories as you can or restrict yourself significantly during the day, because it’s not a true representation of body fat you’ve actually put on, but just other things that occur into your body.

14:10 S1: You’ll be able to take photos of your meal with the Lumen app and get feedback from Lumen’s nutritionists on your dish, again helping you stay on top of your diet, and Lumen claim they’ve currently helped 300 BT users that have lost 6.8 pounds on average in the first 30 days of using the app.

14:25 S1: So how does it work? Well, Lumen uses a CO2 sensor and the flow-meter to determine the carbon dioxide concentration in your breath, and this indicates the type of fuel your body is using to produce energy, fat or carbs. So, burning fuel from carbs releases more CO2 into your breath, and you can read more about the tech behind the Lumen on the IndieGoGo page, but it seems to be a very exciting device that is coming out soon. And Lumen was actually at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, so there are plenty of people talking about it, or in the media. So, you can obviously read some of those as well.

14:58 S1: But I wanted to go through a tangible example with you of someone who’s used the Lumen early, an early adopter, and they seem to be quite excited about it. An editor from soyummy.com wrote a blog about the Lumen and it said it literally changed her life. She writes, and this is a quote, “One morning, I had a bowl of sugary cereal for breakfast. And after breathing into the Lumen device is alerted me to the fact that I had a lot of carbs in my system. To combat this Lumen recommended that I eat less carbs and more protein for lunch. It specifically suggested that I eat a mushroom and spinach omelette with sliced vegetables,” and then this would then give her the energy she needed to run to the post office.

15:34 S1: So, it is promising to see how this could be a total package needed to stay on track during your holidays and your diet, stay on track on your diet, because it’s actually adjusting to real-time data of what you’ve eaten and then telling you how to combat this or then adjust your diet for the rest of the day. And obviously it’s so easy to use. Rather than having to type in the numbers of the food you’re using, it should simply be breathing into the device, looking at the app to see the data it’s telling you, and then going from there, so quite excited about this and you can pre-order it for $249.

16:06 S1: So time for the top end category, and in this case it’s gonna be a device that we were excited about, but it seems to be there’s quite a few issues to work out. So it’s the SCiO, and it’s quite an interesting case. It did show a lot of promise but it’s not quite lived up to the hype. The SCiO was launched on Kickstarter in 2014 and it advertised as a pocket-size molecular sensor. So this means that the SCiO was meant to be used to scan objects around you and get information about their chemical makeup. That data is then sent directly to the app on your phone. So SCiO uses micro spectrometry and it absorbs the light reflected from the object it’s scanning and breaks it into a spectrum and then analyses it to determine the object’s chemical makeup.

16:49 S1: So in relation to staying on top of your diet, how could it help? Well, it was meant to give you nutritional values of your foods. So the SCiO sensor with the home use application included the produce select app, so that’s food analysis, for meats, dairy products, fish, chocolate, fruit, vegetables, pill identification, and they even hinted at the possibility to track your own body fat percentage by pointing it at your body fat and then getting the chemical makeup of your own body. However, it seems that SCiO has not quite lived up to his promises, and it’s also got caught up in a intellectual property dispute, so you can no longer communicate with the founders via Kickstarter.

17:28 S1: It’s unfortunately as far as I can see received a lot of negative reviews on Amazon, some say only certain aspects of the device work. For example, the in-built applets for scanning foods, like cheese and apples, seem to be functional, but that appeared really to be the highlight from people’s reviews, and it seemed you really needed to purchase the developer kit rather than the consumer version to get the flexibility that SCiO promised. And obviously, I’m not gonna spend too long on this, but if you do want some more background context and understanding of how this technology might help you in the future if the flaws are all ironed out, then there’s a blog written by Tekla Perry where they took the SCiO to a supermarket for a try-out and they say it was used to find the freshest fruit or freshest vegetables there which is the most nutrient-rich. So if this technology does come into our lives in the future, it could be very exciting and benefit us in a great deal.

18:21 S1: So there we have it. That’s the technology for today, I really hope you found that interesting. I think it would be really interesting to see products like the Lumen or if the SCiO works out some of its issues in the future coming into life and I’m sure that there are loads of different tech that helps us get back track of our diets during the holidays, in the future, because obviously there’s such a trend at the moment to look after bodies and try and become our healthier selves. If you have any tips, if you’ve been using any technology in a different way, then do get in touch with us.

18:46 S1: Let us know how you’ve managed to stay on track on your diet during the holidays. Did you over-indulge over Christmas or did you manage to keep everything in check? Do you have an accountability partner? Would be really interested to hear any of your stories, so please get in touch and I really hope you’re looking forward to the next episode. So we’ll see you next time.

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Lilla Laczo

Lilla is a content writer and community manager at Shape.
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