New Phone App Out to Change How You Eat…Or Will It?


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by Matt Weik

How would you like to have a tiny little person in the palm of your hand telling you what you should and shouldn’t eat at every meal? Well, you basically can with a new app called Rise. Rise puts a real (meaning living/breathing) nutritionist at your fingertips. Other apps such as MyFitnessPal are great if you want to track everything you eat but many people don’t have the commitment needed to be consistent with the app and once they fall off the wagon it’s hard for them to get back on. This is where Rise really shines. Or does it?

How does it work?

While other apps on the market cause you to enter data, with Rise all you have to do is snap a photo and wait. Without hands on experience, I’m not 100% sure how long it takes to get a response but they claim if you’re at a grocery store or out at a restaurant and need help with decisions you can use the app to get personal guidance and point you in the right direction. Apparently it’s extremely quick though.

The basis for the app is the ability to snap a photo of a meal you’re getting ready to eat and get instant feedback from a nutritionist telling you the good, bad, and the ugly on your plate. That said, I do see a downside to that (which I guess you could also consider a blessing depending on how you look at it) in which if you already prepared a meal and have it on your plate and the nutritionist basically hates everything on the plate what are you left to do? Throw it away and start over? The nutritionist, however, can give you suggestions on what substitutes to make so you might not have to throw out the whole dish.

Will it work for you?

There’s one question I’m sure many people are wondering… So how do you actually learn from this so eventually you won’t need it? The app itself has a monthly subscription of $10 to $15 per week, which obviously gets quite expensive for an app—especially when you have other apps out on the market that are free but don’t come with the personalization experience like Rise does. It’s great that the nutritionist on the fly can dissect your plate and belittle you until you’re nothing more than a blob of mashed potatoes on the floor, but what do you learn? Better, healthier choices? Yup. But you’d need that guidance at just about every meal unless you eat the same foods.

So are apps like MyFitnessPal really that bad? In my opinion, no. MyFitnessPal allows you to see how many calories and macros you are getting in each food choice. You don’t get that in Rise (unless the nutritionist tells you it but then you’d still have to get the exact portion sizes which at that point you could simply just enter it into MyFitnessPal and save yourself a ton of money being that MyFitnessPal is a free app).

While many people will like the personal experience they get with working with a real nutritionist right on their phone, the app itself seems like you won’t learn anything and will need to keep using the app to get guidance—which makes sense for Rise owners as they will keep customers long-term (hopefully). Looking at their website it’s great that they push so many nutritionists around the US to help you along your journey, but again, there is no concrete serving sizes. So how do you actually know how much to eat or even how much is on your plate if you aren’t measuring? The majority of people using these kinds of apps are using them because they aren’t nutritionists or skilled enough to know exactly what they are putting on their plate. Sure, you can be told to eat chicken breast and green beans but at what portions? You could follow the guidance but be way over all of your portion sizes throughout the day and gain weight. So I’m still confused how Rise actually helps you without knowing exact portions that are on your plate.

You could simply log your numbers, save time, and learn

There are a lot of variables that make me believe that Rise is still in its infancy stage and there needs to be some quirks worked out. While I see it being helpful for those who aren’t 100% committed to changing their weight and life, I see a lot of people walking blindly down this path using the app. Yes, someone is holding your hand every time you snap a photo and submit, but there’s no true calories or macros being tracked. The images on the apps (from the website) showing responses from the nutritionists display them simply saying to limit the amount of toppings on food such as salads but again it leaves many variables unknown. How much dressing was actually used? The salad might be tossed already so the nutritionist doesn’t have a good grasp of its contents.

So many things left to the unknown. Then after you snap a photo you have to go and put in a caption and explain your meal/food to the nutritionist so they can figure out exactly what you’re eating. Then you wait for a reply. Eventually you’ll get a message back from the nutritionist—which takes up more time. See where I’m going with this?

Again, I fall back to “why not just log it in MyFitnessPal?” It’s honestly quick and simple once you learn how to use the app software. You’ll learn values for food items and by looking at food consistently, you’ll eventually learn how much 6 ounces of chicken looks like or any other food so you won’t need to weigh out everything—a simple eye balling and you’ll will be able to judge fairly accurately. It might appear that I’m a MyFitnessPal fanboy, but in my opinion it’s one of the best apps out there if you’re trying to lose weight and get your nutrition under control.

I feel that with MyFitnessPal you will learn more about the foods you eat than you would having a nutritionist look at an image that shows no true dimension and try to figure out from the tiny image if your meal or food item is a good choice for you. How can you look at an image that isn’t true to size and figure out the serving size? Plates aren’t the same size across the board, and neither are bowls. So how exactly can Rise be useful other than being a generic guideline?

I like the concept that so many companies and entrepreneurs are trying to figure out regarding how they can help people live a healthy life and make better choices. But without knowing numbers, you can be way off and delay your progress and simply not learn anything on how you should be eating and using correct portions and serving sizes. Going blindly into the night is a sure way to fail. Unfortunately logging your calories and macros is the best option to ensure success. And at the price of Rise you could sit down with a nutritionist in person and get a detailed nutrition plan totally laid out for you. Tracking calories/macros or working with a nutritionist face-to-face is tried and true and the method that thousands of people have used to help them get their nutrition under control. It’s worked for them and it can work for you.

Learn more about Rise, the app mentioned above at www.rise.us
Learn more about MyFitnessPal, the app mentioned above at www.myfitnesspal.com

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