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How to Monitor Your Nutrition

Head Coach Ryan Kohler explores best practices for using mobile apps to monitor nutrition—and reveals the red flags that can indicate when athletes are misusing these apps and developing unhealthy attitudes about their diet.

Head Coach Ryan Kohler, along with Trevor Connor and Chris Case, explores how athletes and coaches can approach nutrition monitoring.

Kohler discusses peer-reviewed research on nutrition monitoring habits, the dangers of using nutrition monitoring apps, red flags that indicate athletes may be developing unhealthy nutrition attitudes or habits, and the best practices that can make nutrition monitoring a healthy and useful way to improve nutrition. Connor, Case, and Kohler also answer member questions.

Video Transcript

Chris Case  00:05

Hey, everyone, this is Chris Case, typically host of Fast Talk the podcast, tonight we’re doing our first Fast Talk Laboratories webinar, joined today by head coach Ryan Kohler and other head coach Trevor Connor.

Trevor Connor  00:22

Not sure what you would call me, let’s go, coach Trevor Connor.

Chris Case  00:25

Coach Trevor Connor.

Trevor Connor  00:25

Silly Canadian.

Chris Case  00:26

And I gotta say, this is a different world we’re live, Trevor, we can’t mess up now.

Trevor Connor  00:33

Chris, we never mess up. As you know, we don’t edit our podcast at all, that’s one shot.

Chris Case  00:38

Nope, there’s no such thing as an editor when it comes to Fast Talk Podcasts. Actually, that’s not true, but we’re going to try to do our best. This is a newer environment we’re working on some technologies. Ryan’s gonna do a PowerPoint presentation on nutrition, nutrition apps. So, with that, I’ll say, people out there listening, please go to the lower, right-hand corner of the Vimeo screen that you’re watching on. There’s an area where you can ask questions, I’ll be receiving those questions, sorting through them after Ryan and Trevor are done speaking, I will pose some questions. So, hit us down in the lower, right-hand corner with your questions, and we’ll get to those at the second half of today’s program. With that, Ryan, let’s jump into it.

Introduction on How To Monitor Nutrition

Ryan Kohler  01:28

All right, Chris sounds good. Share this screen, we’ll get rolling. Okay, we’re in. So yeah, like Chris said, we’ll talk a little bit about nutrition, and really a topic that I’ve dealt with a lot, with a lot of my clients and athletes and, you know, nutrition is one of those things that can be a little bit hard to monitor and track, and there’s, there’s, you know, so many apps out there now that this is a pretty standard conversation I have with my athletes, is you know what to use? How to use it? And it’s a bit of a confusing world when you start looking at all the options out there. So, really this one is meant to help get a starting point on how to monitor your nutrition, and yeah, utilizing apps to figure this out, but also how to balance the technology with your needs, and that’s going to be a really big point that I want to drive home today. So, with that, we’ll start rolling. And I guess since we haven’t done this, I should introduce myself.

Ryan Kohler  02:31

This is our first webinar. So, a little about me, I’ve just put some credentials down there. I did my master’s in sports nutrition, bachelor’s exercise Phys, USA cycling level one coach, and a certified skills instructor, and a weightlifting level one coach as well. So, had a lot of good experience with folks with nutrition over the years. So, that’s why I think this is just a fun way to start.

Chris Case  02:31


Trevor Connor  02:57

I just got to interject and say since this is our first webinar with Ryan, how excited we are to have him part of the team, for those of you listen to the podcast, you know, Chris, and I have been doing this for a while. Ryan, you joined us, what, two months ago?

Ryan Kohler  03:09

Yeah, about that.

Trevor Connor  03:10

And you have been absolutely fantastic, and you are taking the whole coaching side of Fast Talk Labs to a whole nother level, so thank you.

Ryan Kohler  03:18

Thank you.

Ryan Kohler  03:20

All right, well, get this outline going here. So, there are four main areas we’re going to touch on. The first one is a really big topic, why you should or not log your food. So, we’ll go through a lot of the research that was compiled for this one, and really just put out some interesting data that until I dug into this a little bit deeper, you know, it didn’t really, I didn’t really know it was there. So, we’ll tie it up with some pros and cons and then move into looking at some of the available tools out there. So, we’ll kind of do a short overview of what’s out there, and then I’ll talk a little bit about my preferred tool that I use and why I use it. So, then we’ll go through some of the applied pieces to figure out how to enter the best data. So, three main topics that come up here are the timing, you know, how much do you log? When do you log? Estimating portion sizes and matching foods with the databases that sometimes can seemingly go on for days, and then finally, once you have the data, what do you do with it? So, we’ll move on and finish up with that question.

Ryan Kohler  04:32

So questions to log or not to log.

Chris Case  04:36

That’s Shakespeare.

Ryan Kohler  04:37

That is.

Chris Case  04:38


Ryan Kohler  04:39

To log or not to log.

Chris Case  04:44

To be or not, to be.

Trevor Connor  04:47

Pretty sure he wasn’t like, man didn’t get enough calories, I can’t do Shakespeare. I don’t remember any Shakespearean quotes about calories.

Chris Case  04:58

There’s probably some.

Ryan Kohler  04:59

That’d be funny.

Ryan Kohler  05:02

This is as good as it’s gonna get right now, I think.

Trevor Connor  05:04

Any of you listening out there, please text in if you got a good Shakespeare quote about counting calories, we’ll bring this back around.

Logging Calories

Ryan Kohler  05:12

Right. So, we’ll start yeah, with this question. So, as a quick intro, so just some basic reasons for and against logging food. So, and these are pulled from some of the research papers that are out there.

Reasons for Logging Calories

Ryan Kohler  05:28

So, things that people have said for are they want to just track calories, they want to track macronutrient distribution or macros, they want to track exercise, and this one came about because there are a number of apps that do nutrition and exercise logging, weight loss, of course, was in there as a big one, and then also self-improvements. So, and this is actually in relatively good order, as far as what was chosen more frequently than others from top to bottom.

Reasons Against Logging Calories

Ryan Kohler  05:58

Reasons against, there’s some other things we can run into like obsessive logging, guilt food, or restricted eating habits, the social impact or isolation affiliated with, you know, the changes you’re trying to make, and then of course mood impact. So, we’ll get into these a little bit deeper in the next few slides, but that’s just a brief overview of some of the main areas that we’ll look at. So, some numbers, so and I put the little subtitle here appropriately for your next outdoor physically distance get together, so there’s yeah, a couple of random numbers to throw out here. So, and I thought these were just interesting, 50% of smartphone users do search for health information, and of those that search for the information, 60% of them, download nutrition or exercise apps to find those related to weight loss. So, I’m not too surprised, I guess by that, but it still is a fairly high number that was interesting. So, there is a big need that people are looking for, they’re looking to fill this gap and find information to help them achieve some of these goals. Youth app users, about half of them had some kind of negative experience. So, that’s a big red flag when we’re looking through this, and that’s why we have to, you know, be very careful as to how we look at these apps and what recommendations we make.

Ryan Kohler  07:24

This other one that came from another study of 44% decline in logins to the apps after one month, so this is sort of like, you know, our January gym memberships, where everybody gets into it, and then by February, March, we see some pretty significant declines in use. This one was pretty interesting, this reinforcement of habits, it was negatively correlated with usability. So, this was an interesting study that looked at a number of different apps, and there was one in particular that consistently scored fairly high with usability, but it didn’t reinforce good habits. And then these other two pieces that I have this little light bulb because it’s sort of this little aha moment that came when looking at this, two of the most common user requests were more engagement from the app and having it be less of a time-consuming process, and this is where, you know, I’m not sure apps can do this for us, because everybody has their own goal with these apps, and there are so many different factors to consider, but this is where, you know, later on, we’ll come back to this, but I think these are two critical points that we have to consider.

Ryan Kohler  08:40

So, diving into some of the research, this was from a paper that looked at MyFitnessPal versus a 24- hour food recall by trained investigators, and I believe in this one, they actually did two versions of the 24-hour recall and compare that against the user entered MyFitnessPal data, and MyFitnessPal is one of probably the most popular ones, it’s been around for a long time, so you’ll see that come up a lot in the research. So, just to kind of pull out a few interesting facts from here, in the logging the self, the self-logging that people did with MyFitnessPal, they found 18% of those food items were emitted, and the interesting piece here is that they were high energy density foods and low nutrient density, so when we think of those foods, we’re thinking yes, probably going to be you know, the snacky foods, chips, things like that, that are going to be relatively high in calories, but not very high in any vitamins or minerals.

Guilt Logging

Chris Case  09:40

So, you’re saying just to clarify, you’re saying people are failing to note those things?

Ryan Kohler  09:48


Chris Case  09:49

18% of the time, or 18% of the food items.

Ryan Kohler  09:52

Yes. Yeah, and it’s a pretty common thing to underestimate when you’re logging these foods, but I think this one is interesting because, and really this is just I mean, we’re human, so we don’t necessarily want to put those foods in, if it’s a food that we think of that’s like, yeah, that wasn’t a great choice I’ll just make that out this time, I think that’s what we see here.

Chris Case  10:12


Trevor Connor  10:12

This goes back to that guilt thing. I have periodically asked athletes who said they’re struggling to lose weight to do a three-day diet log for me, and I have yet to get a dialog that I could use. I can’t tell you how often you have somebody who weighs 200 pounds, says, “I can’t lose weight, what’s the issue?” I go, “Do the three-day diet log,” and they record, well, I consume on average 1200 calories per day, and you look at it all broccoli, it’s all, I go, “This is not what you ate.” “No, absolutely.” Well, “Then this is different from what you normally,” “No, this is what I eat every day. I just can’t lose weight,” and you can go, “If this is actually what you’re eating every day, no, you’d be losing a lot of weight, this is close to starving.” So, it goes back to what you’re saying before there is this guilt thing, there’s a lot of negative things associated with tracking food where people don’t want to admit, well, I had a doughnut today, or I had this today, I had that today.

Chris Case  11:13

Well, yeah, you can sneak the donut, but then if you have to write it down, and somebody might look at that, you’re like, I don’t I snuck that doughnut that’s supposed to be my secret, or those chips are my secret that are tucked under my, my desk drawer, whatever.

Ryan Kohler  11:32


Chris Case  11:32


Ryan Kohler  11:33

Yeah, and it’s and it’s, you know, they highlighted it here too, with the amount of calories that were underestimated, you know, and that this was 450 calories, they found, on average, were, you know, they were under by about 450 calories, you know, and this can be even larger. Some other you know, studies have shown that typically, the more overweight the individual is, the more they tend to underestimate, and then that does get lower as you get to more lean individuals, but it is it’s still it’s really sort of a crapshoot, you know, as to what you’re going to get back from somebody. So, yeah, this is where, you know, we started to bring in this key piece of everything about trained professionals, you know, you look at this study where they use trained investigators, there are a lot of nutrition professionals out there, and part of the job is to help reduce that error, you know, when you’re going through a 24-hour recall, it’s, you might do a first pass, and then you come back and you do a second and a third pass and you dig into, you know, when they give you what they had for breakfast, you dig in, it’s out were their toppings on that? What did you have to drink at that time? And you start to pull out these little pieces of the story that they might otherwise not consider or think of, and at the end of this, another piece here was that this 20% of the group that used MyFitnessPal, 20% said they would continue logging, despite the difficulties they had. So, there was a pretty significant fall off in the users that would say, yeah, I would keep doing this, and some of the hurdles they ran into, or, of course, you know, matching foods, so choosing the right food for what actually was sitting in front of them, estimating portion sizes, the amount of time it took, and then and just the long-term motivation of like, can I keep doing this day after day after day? And how much does this eat into, you know, the precious 24 hours I have every day?

Emotional Aspect of Logging Calories

Ryan Kohler  13:28

So, another one, this was pretty interesting, it looked at a little bit more into the behavioral factors, you know, and the psychological piece, which I thought was really interesting. I don’t remember how many apps are reviewed, but it found zero apps had any feature that dealt with emotion of any sort, which, which was, you know, it seems like a pretty important thing to deal with, but again, I’m not sure how well we can actually do that with apps or assess that. So, some of the pieces that came up here were guilt, flavor tastes, you know, hunger, just all of these things that are that can be associated with some of that emotion around eating, were sort of left out. There was one app that had a health test feature, and I thought this was pretty cool, the goal of this was really to challenge the beliefs and the knowledge of the users, and this is one of those pieces that I think a nutrition professional does is that that’s what we do is we challenge your beliefs, we help educate you and mentor you, and it was nice to see that one app is kind of pushing toward that.

Eating Disorders

Ryan Kohler  14:29

This other one was really surprising. So, ED, eating disorder, abbreviated here. So, 75% of the users with an eating disorder actually use MyFitnessPal, but of that group, 73% felt that the app contributed to their eating disorder. So, that was that was a huge red flag really, really surprising, and I know personally I’ve worked with athletes that have either come out and said they have disordered eating, or they do have other things that they’re working on, you know, just their relationship with food or weight, or body image, and that’s where we need to be very careful of how these are used. So, it’s a pretty significant red flag for me right there.

Trevor Connor  15:14

Not surprising, though. But yeah, that does tell you something about these apps.

Ryan Kohler  15:20

And these are the, you know, users with who are experiencing eating disorders. So, you know, you have to wonder to the people who, who haven’t been diagnosed with any eating disorders or anything like that, what are the emotional and issues that they could be dealing with? You know that we’re not finding out about really?


Ryan Kohler  15:40

So, how about the accuracy piece. So, this was from a paper that looked at how the apps compared to a more standardized database, the USDA. So, broke it down into our three macronutrients, so carbohydrate, protein, and fat here. So, and this one I thought was pretty interesting. So, with the carbohydrates on the left here, they found that there was actually pretty close agreement with the USDA database. So, that was good to see. On the protein, when we go there, they found there was a large overestimation in protein relative to our standard database, and then as we go to fat, there was more underestimated, so we can see where there’s some big errors getting introduced here. One of the interesting pieces is that the food items that have labels were in closer agreement with app results, right? And I bring up this part about barcodes, you know, we all have our apps on our phones now, and there’s cameras, so these barcode scanners have been a huge help for just to make it easier on us and less time consuming to put those foods in there. But then when we look at foods that don’t have barcodes, those are actually in closer agreement with the database, right? So, bananas was one example, it just showed more variability within the app, but they were pretty much spot on with the USDA search. So, this also goes to show, I think back with that other study that was looking at, you know, which foods are being omitted, you know, it’s really, the foods with barcodes are typically going to be, you know, less colorful, we’ll say, maybe less fruits and vegetables that we see coming in. So, it starts to give us insight into, you know, what types of foods are we consuming? And what kinds of over or underestimates can we expect when we start to look at protein and fat? So, all these considerations that play into it that we just have to be aware of as we enter the foods.

Trevor Connor  17:34

That’s interesting. So, I use MyFitnessPal periodically, and I’ve seen that barcode feature and I refuse to use it because the only thing with barcodes are heavily processed foods.

Ryan Kohler  17:46


Trevor Connor  17:46

And I want myself eating a lot more natural foods, a lot more bananas, vegetables, things like that. They don’t have barcodes.

Ryan Kohler  17:55


Trevor Connor  17:55

So, I start going, well, I’ll eat this package thing, because it’s easier to record it.

Ryan Kohler  18:01

Exactly. Yeah, so that’s a big consideration. Yeah, I mean, it’s easy, but then again, do we gravitate more toward those foods just to be able to make it easier to enter? Alright.

Ryan Kohler  18:13

So, after going through that, tried to put together a little bit more of an extensive list of the pros and cons here. So, you know, we can see there’s, there’s quite an imbalance, that’s, you know, that we have in these two columns, but some of the pros, and these are ones that in part, I tried to put my own wording into, and some of them came more from the research. So, this first one is really tying objective data to the subjective feelings, you know, and that’s where sometimes we can go through and ask, “Oh, how are you eating?” And someone says, “Great, great, I eat tons of fruits and vegetables, and everything’s great,” you know, but then if we don’t see if there are other indicators, where they’re not performing well, they’re not eating enough food or something like that, you know, this is where we can say, alright, maybe this is a reason that we now grab some objective data, and let’s just see where you’re at, and see how that changes the way you think about the foods you see in front of you.

Ryan Kohler  19:10

Another one, establishing a baseline, right? Some athletes just don’t know what they need, you know, and, you know, I always get the question of what should I eat? And, well, what do you do now? You know, and if they don’t have a great answer for it, then yeah, we have a good reason to do some logging, you know, increasing satisfaction, there’s that feeling of achievement of reaching some goals, this one short- term self-improvement, that came from one of the, that was one of the pros from one of the papers, and this one I added, just, you know, these apps are really good as a communication medium with your professional, you know, or professionals, it’s an easy way to sort of share that data and habit, where it just I think, you know, makes the time more efficient.

Ryan Kohler  19:57

Now, if we go over the cons it’s a wide range. We privacy risks, you know, just putting your data into an app, and you know, spending, there’s weight data, BMI, maybe body composition, things like that. So, that’s a consideration. We have increased screen time, you know, at a time when we’re trying to, you know, limit that as much as possible now we’re on it more by putting foods in there, usability or acceptance issues of, you know, do I want to be out at dinner and, you know, putting my putting my dinner into the phone, when I’m out with friends, too demanding on life, and I think that ties into low- motivation as it just becomes sort of this weight, you have to, you have to carry along with you, and that’ll drag your motivation down after a while. Obsessive logging, you know, I’ve experienced this with athletes in the past, and it’s, it’s one of the things that I always try to cut off ahead of time before we get there, but you know if I have athletes that are starting to talk about bringing out their food scale, and having it and actually this quite literally happened, I had an athlete in the past, this person would be at the dinner table, and nothing would go on the plate until it was weighed with the food scale sitting right next to the plate. So, you know, that was one of those things where it was, it was very, very obsessive, and something that’s not sustainable. Guilt, and a few of these, you mentioned earlier social impact, mood impact, and then Trevor actually added this one, and this is a great addition of it’s very reactive, it’s not proactive. So, if you want to dive into that one.

Reactive vs. Proactive

Trevor Connor  21:27

Yeah, I mean, that’s, so give you an analogy, imagine you hired a coach, to train you for cycling, or whatever particular sport you’re doing, and the coach said, “Look, I’m not going to give you a plan, you go and train, however, and at the end of the week, I’m going to take a look at all of it and tell you whether it was good training or not.” Yeah, that will give you some thoughts for future weeks, but it’s still very reactive. If the coach says, you know, that was that was a horrible week, why do you do this, this and this, you can’t go back and undo that, and this is why you get plans, this is why coach says, here’s what you should do this week, it’s preparing ahead of time to be more successful for the week than just looking back and being reactive. That gets to this whole a lot of the negative sides of the software, the guilt, and other sides of it, because most, my experience is most people don’t log until the end of the day. So, they record it all and they can’t do anything about it, they can’t undo what they’ve eaten, so log in and go, well, that wasn’t very good, they’ll feel guilty, they’ll have a lot of negative feelings about it, but the one thing we can’t do is go and change any of that. So, I actually beta tested an app about a year ago that went the exact opposite approach, no calorie counting, but every morning, you planned out what you were going to eat that day, and then it helped keep you on track. I actually found that a much more successful app because it was much more positive, there wasn’t the guilt associated with it, and it was allowing you to track in a way that you could do something about your diet, as opposed to assess your success once the day is done. Does that make sense?

Ryan Kohler  23:19

Yeah, that does. Yeah, that’s a great, I mean, you don’t see that very much. So, something where it allows you to be proactive and build it in, yeah, I think that’s huge.

Trevor Connor  23:27

I really quite enjoyed that app, it was, you know, every morning, it would help me map out my day, I would prepare my food to bring to work and it just was probably the healthiest I’ve been in a long time.

Ryan Kohler  23:39

That’s great. Yeah. And, you know, I’ve seen with the tool that I use with athletes, I’ve seen them actually kind of take that on themselves where they’ve made that shift of, oh, I see what this does, and a lot of the negative things that you said where it’s, it’s, you know, at the end of the day, you can’t change it, they’ve actually used that where they would enter their food ahead of time, and they just took it upon themselves to do that. So, it is sort of a natural progression to move into it, which is great.

Trevor Connor  24:03


Logging Calories: Conventional Strategies vs. Apps

Ryan Kohler  24:07

So, here’s another one that looked at conventional strategies versus apps, you know, and really, the big picture here was there’s really no difference, and this is looking at systolic blood pressure, that’s SBP, weight difference, and then just your ability to make those healthy choices. And pretty much across the board, you can see there’s either no change or very, very, very small change, basically no change. Nothing in this study was significant, so this was just a group that one group went through for six months, they went through conventional weight loss support, or they were trained on how to use an app, and again, this was MyFitnessPal, and really no differences, you know, I think one person out of the app group in this study, continued to use it, but everyone else just fell off and stopped using it. So, there’s a question here, is it all doom and gloom? There’s a lot of cons, there’s no real difference, and I sort of, not really, but sort of, you know, and really the cautionary thing I always want to, you know, leave you with here is they don’t get carried away with them, they are a tool, and just like every tool there, there’s a use, but we just have to know when to use it exactly what we want to get from it, and not let it sort of just take over our lives.

Available Tools

Ryan Kohler  25:34

All right. So, next part is available tools. So, this is just to look at some of the popular ones, and, you know, say cutting through the noise, because I think there’s so much of it out there. This is where I’ll go through, and we’ll just review quickly, some of the apps that are out there, and then I’ll go through what I like and why. But here’s a list, and we see about seven apps there that are available, and some of these I thought, you know, I’ve seen these before, you know, MyFitnessPal, of course, is in there, that’s a popular one. We’ve got, you know, Live Strong, there’s some names that we’ve seen around. So, and you can see the ratings on these are all pretty high, a lot of downloads. So, this is just more, here’s what we see, here’s just a list of names. So, if things look familiar, at least you can tie this to kind of the next slide.

Comparing Different Apps

Ryan Kohler  26:28

What this study did is it looked at all of these apps and like, gave them usability scores, and this sort of ties back to that earlier slide where we found that the most usability didn’t necessarily make for the best, the best results in the clients. So, you know, really, you can see that there’s going to be various scores for each area, but you know, how complex is it? Is it cumbersome? How much do you need to learn ahead of time? This top graph here is the usability score on the negative side, so the lower the number, the better. And then the usability score on the positive side on the on the lower part, the higher the better. So, you can see there’s a pretty wide range, and, you know, I was surprised because the app that I use on here actually scored, you know, fairly moderately to maybe not so well overall, but I think that also speaks to like, what are you using this for? And you know, everyone’s going to be a little bit different as far as what needs will be met with it. So, but yeah, this is just a nice little, I think, a reference point to go through. Was your app on here, Trevor?

Trevor Connor  27:36

No, because it’s different.

Ryan Kohler  27:38


Trevor Connor  27:38

It doesn’t actually do any tracking.

Ryan Kohler  27:40

Okay. Great. So, I’m going to switch over to the one that I use. So, it’s this calories counter or Fat Secret, and I’ll be the first one to say that this is the worst name for a nutrition app, Fat Secret, and yes, I’ve emailed them probably multiple times to ask if there’s any way we can change that name, or if they’ve ever thought about it, and they just say no, so it’s fine.

Trevor Connor  28:07

Their website, your key to success, Fat Secret.

Ryan Kohler  28:12


Chris Case  28:12

Maybe they don’t want to spend any more money on trademarks.

Ryan Kohler  28:18

Maybe, this was name you have it.

Chris Case  28:20

They have a reason, maybe.

Ryan Kohler  28:21


Ryan Kohler  28:23

So, if you can get past the name, it took me a little while to do that, but I actually switched from MyFitnessPal to Fat Secret, just because I liked the interface of it. Adding foods is pretty easy, but the biggest thing was that there was a professional dashboard. So, with this one, if there’s anybody listening who uses, you know, Training Peaks, Today’s Plan, things like that, where you can sort of connecting with your coach, and you have that back and forth, and you have a dashboard, you know, this the same, the same kind of effect. So, the thing I like about this is when I am working with an athlete, they can connect themselves to me, or I’ll send them an invite, and I can just see, you know, not just the foods that have come in, but we can look at one of the nice things is most frequently foods, so many times we don’t even dive into the numbers, I just like to see, you know, give me the characteristic of your eating habits right now, and I have them enter foods for you know, maybe a day, and just hey, give me a normal day, you know, keep it pretty simple to start, and then I’ll look at that most frequently eaten foods, you know, and sometimes we’ll see a lot of, you know, brown, you know, okay, a lot of cereal, and, you know, very basic just, you know, moderate energy density, not much nutrient density, we don’t see a lot of color in there, and that’s just a simple way to start, where we say, hey, take a look at this, what do you think of the quality? You know, and with someone who’s sometimes hyper-focused on the numbers, I’ll sort of start that way, just as we don’t go down that rabbit hole.

Chris Case  30:02

Do you know that chocolates Brown?

Ryan Kohler  30:04

Chocolate is brown. Yeah, that’s a good point.

Chris Case  30:09

It’s got some nutrients.

Ryan Kohler  30:10

That’s true. That’s true. All right, well, if chocolate is high on the list, we’ll leave that. I know here, it would be very high in the list.

Trevor Connor  30:17

Chris wants nothing more than the company to be sponsored by a chocolate company.

Chris Case  30:21

This is true. We’re waiting.

Ryan Kohler  30:23

So, if they’re listening,

Chris Case  30:24

We’re waiting.

Chris Case  30:24


Ryan Kohler  30:25

This is their chance. Add the logo right here.

Chris Case  30:30

Your chocolate logo here.

Ryan Kohler  30:34

All right.

Rules for Tracking Calories

Ryan Kohler  30:35

So, we got into this a little bit, but this is just my rules for using this, right? I want to have a purpose for putting data in there, and usually this is me asking the athlete or the client to give me that data for a very specific reason. I don’t think I’ve had anyone asked me if they can log food, it’s more, you know, hey, I’ve been logging my food for three years straight, can I share it with you? Sure, but I want to make sure there’s a purpose for it. Big thing here is flexibility, and how many days are logged, you know, and this is one where, you know, you can look in the textbooks and see all of the options. I mean, one, we talked about already a 24-hour recall, there’s food logs that can go one, three or more days, there’s so many options. So, I just want to make sure there’s flexibility, and I always like to start by asking realistically, like, what can you do? What are you willing to do? I want to find that out some, some athletes and clients are very motivated, and they’re how I’ll do 28 days if you want me to, but what I want to do is really just minimize that as much as possible, because in reality, after you get past, you know, two or three days, you’re gonna, you’re either going to see the same trends, or you’re going to start to see that they’ll actually start to log less, and now your data is that garbage in, garbage out sort of mentality there. So, I try to keep it very flexible. I rarely ever go over three days, and more often than not, I recommend, just give me a typical day, then we want to establish this timeline, right? Realistic to your needs. So, everything is really just individualized to this person, so the timeline, as far as how much do we want to log? If this is like a baseline assessment, we’re just doing it once, and then we move on from there. If this is something where we have some goals set, and we’re looking at maybe the food frequency, you know, and just how many, you know, how much is a certain food coming in? How frequently is that coming in? Then yeah, we might log is it, you know, once every two weeks? Once a month? That’s what we discuss, and really, I try to, if I see those athletes that are more motivated to say, “Oh, no, I’ll log every couple days.” I actually try to push them away from that, and just tell them that we want to, yes, we want to collect some data, but very, very little and make it very consistent. I mean, this is just like anything that that we do, if we can just make small changes and be consistent with things, we’re going to have some good success, we don’t need to just dive in headfirst, you know, having a plan for what to do with the data, we’ll get into that a little bit later, and once we achieve whatever purpose we’re done, so we put it away, just like I said, it’s a tool. So, we use it for what we need it for, and then we put it away, and that’s it. This is one where you can easily go down a hole and just, you know, people can keep logging and then we really start to run the risk for some of those, those red flag and negative outcomes to pop up.

Trevor Connor  33:39

That’s interesting, because when I have athletes log I just from as I was saying before, they typically if you just get them to log in a couple of days, they’re gonna give you the 1100 calorie days. So, I tend when asked athletes to log, I have them do it for a long enough period of time that yes, they’re either going to eat incredibly well for a few days, or cheated, and then finally get to a point where they’re just like, I don’t care anymore, I’m just gonna log at all.

Ryan Kohler  34:10


Trevor Connor  34:10

I’m going to eat normally, it’s actually after several days of logging that I finally start to get some real food logging of what they’re actually eating.

Ryan Kohler  34:21

Break them down, or eventually they just,

Trevor Connor  34:23

Wear them down, that’s how I coach.

Ryan Kohler  34:28

Nice. Yeah, it’s interesting, and yeah, you see a lot of different approaches to it, you know.

Getting to Most Out of the Data

Ryan Kohler  34:34

So, alright. So, if we are committed to doing some logging, how do we make the most out of what we’re putting in there? So, a few things that we’ll look at, and this is again, you know, partly with what we see in the research, and partly just what I think we see in the real world too, and they do line up pretty well. So, the three major challenges I find is, you know, timing, and like, how often are we doing this? Do we do, you know, one day, seven days, a year, whatever? You know, this EOD, or end of day logging, or do we do it in real time? You know, so we have to consider a lot of things of how does this fit into your lifestyle? You know, I tend to be one, when I do log, I tend to do it more in real time, and I’ll have it as, okay, I had a meal or a snack, I’ll log in at that point, and then just let it go, just because I know, by the end of the day I’ll forget what I had for breakfast, you know? Other people, I’ve seen them, you know, keep, they might write it down through the day, and then just put it all in at night, but yeah, it’s, it’s totally up to the person there.


Ryan Kohler  35:42

So, and Nutrition Training Days, this is one that I’ve found to work pretty well with people, where, you know, if we sort of we want to make sure we collect good data, so you know, with athletes that have a training schedule, or they’re following some kind of structure, you know, we will say, okay, we’re gonna have easy days, you’re gonna have hard days, and you’ll have long days. So, let’s take certain days and transition from thinking about your exercise or your training, and let’s because that for many athletes that have been doing this for a while, that’s, that’s easy, they can go do that with their eyes closed. But something they don’t think about is the nutrition, so we’ll take a bit of a shift in the mindset, and we’ll say, okay, on your recovery day, yeah, you can go do a recovery ride, you don’t have to think about anything, that’s just your body just knows what to do. So instead, let’s, you know, take away that mental energy from that, you know, you’re gonna be on the bike, let’s think about your nutrition and use that as your training data, and the focus there is really just being as accurate as possible for that one day, because we want good data to come in so we can get a good outcome. Same thing, if we’re talking about, you know, a weekend where there’s maybe longer rides, and we say, okay, well, now, we’re not in your typical breakfast, lunch, dinner, you know, and work in between there and picking the kids up, you might have a different a different schedule, where now you’re, you’re going out in the morning, and you’re on a five-hour ride, okay, well, where does breakfast fit in? Does that go into lunch? And how do you address that? So, I want to see how this timing affects their just their daily habits, when we when we throw different types of exercise in there, and then for people who are even just traveling a lot, you know, we see on travel days, they get a lot of clients that are saying, oh, well, you know, all I have access to is airport food, great, let’s do one of those days look like, and many times, they’ll say, oh, I just I eat horribly, because I’m in the airport, and I’m just here and there and I can’t get access to that food. So, we say cool, let’s see what that looks like, and then on a day when they’re home and not traveling, then we’ll get a more, you know, typical day. So, that’s the nutrition training kind of days, we put that in there. The matching is yeah, figuring out when you see the drop- down list, like what do we pick? You know, things like breaking up the recipes versus a whole meal search, you know, so you know, you can search in there. I don’t know, come up with a burrito, right? You can look up a burrito in some of these and you’ll get, you know, you’ll get options that say burrito, or it might say a particular type of burrito from, you know, from a food from a restaurant. Or do you go in and say, okay, well, there’s the tortilla, there’s beans, there’s rice, and I answered them all separately. So, that that will affect the results you get, you know, with this, start to get into, you know, like, look at the options to see what’s there, but then just make your best, your best guess the big thing about this is, if it’s a regularly recurring food, choose what’s closest for you, and then keep choosing that one, like don’t pick the Chipotle a burrito one day, and then put in a recipe the next day, if it was the same thing. Make sure you just keep selecting the same thing, and then in the end really like just you can’t stress about it. The whole thing with this is just doing your best with the time you have, and I mean, this is the biggest thing that I try to stress to people is just like, don’t worry about it, if you have a day, that just doesn’t work, that’s fine, just do your best, and there’s a lot of I tend to not go into the numbers with the athletes. It’s more about let’s just, I just want to see habits, whatever the numbers say, I’ll worry about that, but for the with the athletes, when we’re talking, we want to talk more about habits and quality, that’s what I try to focus on.

Ryan Kohler  39:23

And then finally the portions, you know, there’s guides available everywhere. So, you can google those. We have one in here that’s coming up, and similar to the matching like make your best approximation, remain consistent, and then same thing, just keep doing what you can do with the time available, and this is why again, going back to timing, I like to say all right, let’s just have this focus for one day, look at your habits and get the best data we can and then move on from there. So, this is what sample nutrition training day might look like, you know we have just some consistent riding this one is a lot of commuting efforts and miles, so you know, one day would be a pretty typical commuting day, right? So, fairly light and then we have a weekend day or maybe the, you know, an off day there on the 31st, and we’re just really, this is a simple one to say, all right, let’s compare a day when you ride to a day when you don’t ride, right? And this can be mixed up any which way we need to kind of tailor it to the person.

Matching Foods

Ryan Kohler  40:32

Okay, so then matching foods. This one can be a little bit overwhelming. So, on the left side here, you’ll see I just entered salmon.

Trevor Connor  40:40

Is this your, the app that you like?

Ryan Kohler  40:43

This is.

Trevor Connor  40:43


Ryan Kohler  40:44

Yep. Yeah, this is the Fat Secret app. Yeah, so this one, I just entered salmon for one of the items, and you can see immediately we get salmon, salmon patty, salmon sashimi, and salmon sushi. So, that’s our first decision of which, what do we pick? So, for this one, I’m just thinking of a basically a piece of salmon, you know, not a patty or anything, but just a regular just a standard, Google, you know, salmon, you would see a nice filet, so that that kind of salmon. So, we get that we make the right choice, and then we’re presented with a host of different types of salmon, salmon, and, you know, we see this four ounces boneless raw, we have baked or broiled, and then cooked salmon, so what do we choose? Again, when I’m looking at this, I just go with something that looks pretty close, and then consistently run with that. So, there is also the option of, you know, looking at changing your serving size, your portion, right? So, if we click on that, there’s another drop down, and this is where, again, the time consuming piece can really eat into your day here. So again, this is what the you know, your nutrition professional can help with this, this is what like we’re trained to do this kind of thing, and help you figure out what you want to do, choose that each time, and just run with it. So, you can see there’s, you know, ounces of boneless after cooking with bone, so many options that we can go through. But again, figure out what is it most closely approximate? And run with that each time.

Trevor Connor  42:21

It could be hard to guess at the serving sizes.

Ryan Kohler  42:24

It can be.

Trevor Connor  42:26

Yeah, if you sit there with a scale, you can get it quite accurately, but most people don’t do that, nor should they do that. But it can be tough to look at this, I can’t read, I’m a little too far away to read right now, but as I remember, there was some pretty specific details in the options.

Ryan Kohler  42:44

There are. Yeah, I mean, you have to enter, you can change that, I’ll give you for example, this one four ounces. When you change the serving size, you can change it from you know, four to any number, so yeah, what do you pick? And how do you know what to pick? And then is it ounces? Or do you go to grams? You know, so many things. Yeah.

Ryan Kohler  43:04

But that is a good segue, because there are ways to estimate that, and again, this is if you are strong with the Google, you can find tons of options. But this is just one super simple one to start with.

Portion Sizes

Ryan Kohler  43:19

So, you know, your hand is really the easiest way to go. If we look from left to right there, I mean, you take the palm of your hand, and this is just one visual reference, but the palm of your hand acting as roughly three to four ounces, right? There’s also, you know, a deck of playing cards. I used to say cell phone, but now with how big the cell phones are getting, that’s probably more like five or six ounces these days.

Trevor Connor  43:44


Ryan Kohler  43:45

So, that’s the other piece is being able to know, okay, well, you know, what, how are these changing? But, you know, we look at your thumb as one tablespoon, the index finger as more so from the top half of it about one teaspoon, you know, we go to a fist as a cup, and just a cup palm, you know, is about a half cup. So, you know, thinking about, you know, meat things like that, that’s where we’re gonna see like ounces, you know, oils, dressings, different things like that, peanut butters, you know, we’d see tablespoons, teaspoons, cups, you know, we can have I mean, grains, beans, fruit, you know, and same thing for cup measurements to. So, just kind of knowing, and I think the apps do a good job of defaulting to like a typical portion, like, you know, it won’t show, you know, if you put milk in there, it’s not going to show like a tablespoon by default, so it will usually have a cup as an option, and then it gives you at least some guidance there to help put you in the right direction. So, we get through all that and you have data now what do we do?

Chris Case  45:01

Would you guys like it If I asked some listener questions now? Or do you want me to save them to the end?

Ryan Kohler  45:09

Well, this one, this is almost over. So, why don’t we do it at the end?

Chris Case  45:14


Ryan Kohler  45:14


Chris Case  45:14

Wait until then.

Ryan Kohler  45:15

Pretty close. All right, great.

Sharing Data With a Nutrition Professional

Ryan Kohler  45:18

So, action items then we’re done. The biggest takeaway here that I want to stress is involve and share it with your nutrition professional, right? So, down at the bottom, I’m gonna skip to the bottom of this, I have engagement and efficiency, right? And those are coming from way, way back in the beginning of the presentation, showing that those were two of the most common complaints is that people wanted something more engaging in the app, and they wanted more efficiency out of the app. But right now, I’m not sure we get that from apps. So, this is where I always come back to say, do this with someone else, don’t just do it in a vacuum by yourself, right? We’re here to help reduce the error, and, you know, sure, you can get education from an app, but that’s not tailored to you necessarily. So, having that third person can really save you time, and ultimately get you moving in the right direction faster.

Ryan Kohler  46:14

So, to kind of go over some of the things that I talked about earlier, when we’re when we look at the results, you know, I want to take people away from the numbers as quickly as possible, and talk about, you know, habits and, and, you know, just engage them around their food, you know, visually. What do things look like? You know? I do work with a lot of juniors and student athletes where, you know, we’re commonly working with people who are very time crunched, and, you know, they have school, and then they go straight to practice, and there’s maybe an evening activity, and then they’re home, they have homework to do, and, you know, throughout the day, they have no time to sit there and, you know, enter, enter data for me. So, you know, we might just take 20 or 30 minutes, and I’ll have them walk me through and we’ll do a small, you know, food recall and I’ll enter it for them, you know, or, and then we really would do is just look at, okay, let’s see the quality and find gaps, you know, find easy things to address, we’re not going to dive into the numbers with them.

Focusing on the Numbers

Ryan Kohler  47:16

So, you know, stepping back from the numbers and taking that 30,000-foot view, right? And if we can find those big picture items to work with, then it allows us to kind of skip over that mistake of micromanaging your intake, you know, I mentioned, athletes that might have a scale, and they weigh everything before it goes on there, and then, you know, they’re asking about, you know, calorie differences in, you know, in the amount of like 45 or 50 calories over a day, which doesn’t even matter. It’s more about let’s, let’s talk bigger picture right here.

Goal Setting

Ryan Kohler  47:50

So, that brings us into the goal setting, and, you know, I think that the smart technique for goal setting is an easy way to start with this, and this is where, you know, that time bound piece, you know, I want to set some goals to say, okay, if we’re working on something, let’s, let’s have a few things you can work on, and then yeah, if we bring logging back in, it’s specifically to look at x, whatever that thing is, and then let’s pick a time, okay, one month out, you’re gonna log one or two days for me, and that’s it. And then we just pull that data, we look at what we need to look at, and then move on, and we put the logging away. So, it’s really about transitioning from those numbers to more of the process, right? And like I said, once we get those next steps and recheck, then we just stop, and we cut it. So, this is just a list of references that were included in the PowerPoint, if you’d like to check those out, and that’s about it. We’ve got some contact info below, and I think we’re going to take some questions.

Chris Case  48:56

Do you want to end the screen share, and I can ask some questions here. We’ve got a few from listeners out there.

Ryan Kohler  49:03


Questions From Listeners

Chris Case  49:04

So, our first question, let’s see if I can get this to pop up on the screen. It’s actually got a typo in it, but that’s alright. Is obsessive logging a real risk if food loggers are so unreliable about reporting what they eat?

Ryan Kohler  49:21

Good question. So, I’ll start with that one.

Chris Case  49:24


Trevor Connor  49:24

Go ahead.

Obsessive Logging and Associated Risks

Ryan Kohler  49:26

Yeah. I mean, if they’re unreliable about reporting what they eat, it would I think it depends, like a lot of things. But I tend to see that obsessiveness come up more in those athletes that are really wanting to log and really almost asking to do it, you know, or if I suggest that we do it, they’ll put out there that, oh, good. I can do five days if you need to do five days. But yeah, I think with if we can’t get good data, or I think Trevor alluded to this earlier too, if you know, as someone who’s not very focused on it, then I’m not sure it would become very obsessive habit.

Trevor Connor  50:10

Yeah, I would say,

Ryan Kohler  50:11

55 days. But yeah, I think with if we can’t get good data, or I think Trevor alluded to this earlier, too,

Trevor Connor  50:23

Sorry about that.

Chris Case  50:24

Not sure what happened there.

Trevor Connor  50:24

First episode, were glitching a little bit.

Trevor Connor  50:28

My immediate response would be people who are really obsessive, so obsessive compulsive about this aren’t going to be the people who actually lie, that’s just part of their nature, they’re going to record everything. I spent several years myself recording my food, I am a bit of an obsessive-compulsive person, I was one of those athletes with a scale, I weighed it before I ate it, and I can tell you, I got everything spot on. Today, you know, it did not I don’t think with me went down an unhealthy route, because to me, this was just, I was a full-time cyclist, that was my job, eating right was part of my job, so this is like recording a workout, you record what you eat, too. So, I just I felt it was part of the job, it wasn’t something that like, if I didn’t record it, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, and I think that’s the danger is that people who get obsessive about it for other reasons, and when they don’t record it, it starts to become a concern to them. I think the other issue is the people who use who have an eating disorder, who use one of these apps to either make themselves feel better to get themselves a sense of control, I think that’s where you can really get into the negative sides where they aren’t recording it right, because they’re trying to make themselves feel better, but they’re not seeing the results they want, and it just gets it can get into a real negative cycle. I think it takes a very particular type of person who can use this right, the sort of person who can just say, this is a tool, I’ve got particular goals that I’m trying to accomplish here, I’m going to basically disassociate this from my emotions, and I’m actually going to make but I’m going to take the time to make sure I record right. I think that’s a bit of a rare individual, but that’s my opinion.

Ryan Kohler  52:25

Yeah. Yeah, that’s one of the things that can be hard to tell initially is how they’ll respond to it.

Trevor Connor  52:33


Food Libraries on Logging Apps

Chris Case  52:34

All right. Let’s take another question, this one is, how big are the food libraries on these apps? Do they show most foods?

Ryan Kohler  52:46

It’s a good question. Yeah, they’re pretty sizable. I mean, we talked about the USDA database, and that’s, that’s a very sizable, you can find almost any food in there. You know, in addition to that, depending on the app, and it is actually in the settings of a lot of apps, you can choose the USDA database, you can even choose like a UK database, you can select a few options there, and then many apps have started to include, you know, restaurants, fast food joints, you know, where you can type in common names, you know, we mentioned a burrito earlier, you can type in Chipotle a burrito.

Chris Case  53:23


Ryan Kohler  53:23

You will find that, you know? So, I think they’ve expanded on these a lot over the years.

Trevor Connor  53:28

Different apps take different approaches, I think part of what made MyFitnessPal so popular is it allows users to enter food. So, you can kind of help build the database, that runs into issues. You’ve pointed this out earlier in your presentation, you type in a banana in MyFitnessPal, and you’re going to get 30 different options, right? And some are accurate, some aren’t.

Chris Case  53:54

That’s like Strava segments.

Trevor Connor  53:56


Chris Case  53:57

Strava segments of the same road with just slightly different tweaks.

Trevor Connor  54:01

That’s actually a really good comparison. MyFitnessPal is very much like Strava, where they really let the users build it. It’s a platform where they can build. So yes, you can find everything under the sun, but you don’t always know if it’s accurate or not.

Ryan Kohler  54:19


Paper Food Journals vs. Apps

Chris Case  54:20

Great. All right. Here’s another question we have from a listener, can I use a paper food journal instead of one of these apps? What are the pros and cons here?

Ryan Kohler  54:32

Yeah, I actually like that. I’ve done that a lot with people where they’ve sent me, I’ve seen it all, napkins with literally napkins with their foods written down, and it’s a little bit more time consuming, of course, but I’ve done it in the past, where yeah, I’ve told them whatever is easiest way to get me that information, like I will enter it for you and then we’ll talk about it. But yeah, papers fine, I think sometimes that’s even better for people because they just work better having a notebook with them, and maybe they have a planner and they just write it in, you know, with their planner, and that works out amazingly well at times.

Trevor Connor  55:09

So, I mean, if you actually read a lot of nutrition studies, they’ll talk about the scientifically validated three day diet logs that they have people do in order to conduct the studies, and I’ve downloaded some of these, quote, gold standard three day dialogues, and they’re just sheets of paper with breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and it’s incredibly simple.

Chris Case  55:29

Very simple.

Alcohol Consumption

Chris Case  55:32

All right, another question, I have to get in here. It actually comes from our producer Jana, her names on it, I cannot hide it. Do most apps allow you to log her giant alcohol consumption? Or sorry, alcohol consumption as well?

Ryan Kohler  55:49

Good question.

Ryan Kohler  55:51

That’s, you know, I have not tried to log, and I haven’t seen any athletes that have logged that. So, I’m not the best person to answer that. Trevor, do you know?

Trevor Connor  56:00

You can certainly log alcohol. Jana, I’ve seen you come down from the roof of our building, are you sure you want to log this?

Chris Case  56:09

How many calories are in a shot of tequila? All right let’s move on.

Chris Case  56:17

So, here’s a great question. What feature would you like to see added to say your favorite food app? Fat Secret terrible name, we know you want to change it, but what feature would you add to it?

Features the Apps Should Include

Ryan Kohler  56:32

Well, yeah, aside from the name, that would be the first feature is just a new name. You know, like I said, I think one of the great features is the ability to connect with a professionals dashboard, within that, I think, I mean, it’s pretty decent with what you get, I’d like to see, maybe more of a breakdown in the micronutrient category with vitamins and minerals. They do focus very heavily on carbs, protein, fat intake, we see fiber, sodium, some of the big ones, but, you know, I think this is a limitation with all the apps, you know, there are very good pieces of software for nutrition analysis that professionals would buy that break down everything you put in there, and they give excellent reports. But I see with a lot of the apps they limit this, but that would be one where, yeah, if we can get a more complete report, that would be a plus for me. You know, some other ideas here, but yeah, that I mean, that’s a big one. I’ll go with that for now.

Chris Case  57:35


Ryan Kohler  57:36


Trevor Connor  57:37

I would have two. One I’ve already talked about, which is the being proactive. So, be able to plan out your day, I would rather have an app where I could I could plan out my day, and not to every calorie not every gram, but just a you know, basically, here’s what I’m going to have for breakfast, here’s what I’m going to have for lunch, here’s what’s going to be my snacks, and then I would rather just at the end of the day record how close I came to those targets, and just get away from exact calorie counting. That to me would be more beneficial. But if I’m tracking that, yeah, the one thing that drives me nuts, I really like to track my sodium to potassium ratio, and most of these apps because potassium wasn’t added, well, I think potassium is optional on labels, and a lot of labels from the past didn’t have potassium on them. You get bad ratios, because half of the foods that you enter will say zero potassium on the edge, or have potassium was just never recorded.

Chris Case  58:43

Excellent. Any closing remarks from you guys? On the subject?

Ryan Kohler  58:49

You know, I think it’s, you know, there’s a lot out there, and I think it can be confusing world to jump into when you’re looking at what to use, but, I mean, yeah, just keeping it focused on really having purpose for it, and, you know, involving someone that knows what they’re doing that can help, you know, make your time more efficient, and just help avoid some of those pitfalls I think will just make for a smoother process throughout. So, that’s the suggestion. Don’t get too caught up with it, don’t stress about it.

Chris Case  59:23

Excellent. Well, thanks, everybody for tuning into our first live webinar here at Fast Talk Laboratories. I’m Chris Case, Ryan Kohler, Trevor Connor.

Trevor Connor  59:34

And Ryan, thank you great presentation.

Ryan Kohler  59:36

Thank you for joining me tonight.

Chris Case  59:41

See you next time.