Frequently Asked Questions


Q. Why should I bother keeping track of what I eat?
A. Keeping track of what you eat will help you meet whatever goal you have for yourself, whether that is to lose weight, to stay healthy, or for your own self-awareness. By keeping a journal of what you're eating everyday, you are giving yourself the highest level of control over your body and appearance. Many people simply have no idea how many calories they consume, and are mystified over their inabilitiy to control how they look and feel about themselves. It removes as much of the guess work as possible. Think of it like the equivalent of balancing your checkbook to take control of your finances. Take control of your eating.

Q. Is a diet plan?
A. No, doesn't tell you what to eat. is a tool for self-awareness. You may follow any diet you want, or none at all. strives to provide you with the most information you can have about your body's metabolism, and what you're eating. It calculates an estimate of how much you should be eating, and provides you with the most comprehensive tool available to help you meet your nutritional goals.

Q. Why do you need my time zone?
A. keeps track of what day it is when you log in, so that you can immediately enter you meals and foods for that day without having to switch days. Since it's servers are located in California, needs to know what time zone you're in to automatically adjust to the current day at your location on the globe. This is for your convenience only, and is not used for any other purpose.

Q. What kinds of foods should I be eating?
A. In general, you want to consume the most nutritionally dense foods you can. A large variety of whole, unprocessed foods is the best. It is almost always preferred to prepare foods yourself as opposed to eating at a restaurant, not only because you know exactly what's in the food, but because of portion sizes. Portion sizes at restaurants, especially in North America, are often much larger than necessary, not to mention high fat and high sodium. It is much easier to measure and control portion sizes if you are preparing the food yourself, not to mention cheaper. For an excellent resource of healthy foods, see the world's healthiest foods. That said however, there are a number of sites on the internet that provide nutritional information for major chain restaurants, and as more and more members add foods to the database, it will provide more and more restaurant items. So by all means, if you do eat out, you should still try to enter it in for your own benefit.

Q. How many meals per day should I eat?
A. It is a good idea to eat five or six small meals per day. What is small? Well, if you use, you'll be able to determine that for yourself very easily. You'll be able to determine the portion sizes and the types of foods you should eat to hit your target levels, taking complete control of your eating. breaks down each meal individually, giving you details like the calories, percentage of calories of the total, and the macronutrient percentages for that meal.

Meals and Recipes

Q. What is a saved meal? Aren't all my meals saved?
A. A saved meal is one that you have explicitly saved for reuse at a later time. It's much faster to add an entire meal at once than add each individual food. Saved meals also remember the serving sizes of each food, and can be edited. To answer the second question, yes all your meals that you create as part of your daily journal are remembered. I just chose to use the term "saved meal," but I could have also used the term "reusable meal."

Q. What is the difference between a saved meal and a recipe?
A. The recipe feature can be used to keep track of all your favorite recipes, as you would expect. In addition however, recipes behave like a saved meal that can be scaled to any serving size. They can also be converted to a food. Any time you want to combine multiple foods together, and then eat only a portion of that combination, the recipe feature is extremely valuable.


Q. What does it mean to "create" a food?
A. By creating a food, you create a template with all the nutritional information about that food. When you eat that food, you add it to that daily meal with the amount you ate; this does not have to be the same amount that you entered when you created the adjusts the values automatically. Once you create a food, you don't have to recreate it each time, just search for it. In, there are private foods, and also public foods that are available to any member.

Q. What is the difference between private foods, public foods, and USDA imported foods?
A. When you create a food, you are by default creating a private food that is only accessible by you. You have the option of also creating a public food, which is a copy of the private food but is publicly accessible. You may do this by checking the box at the top of the page when you create the food. When you add private foods to your daily meals, will remember the amount and unit type for the next time you add that food--this is not so when you add public foods. For this reason, if you think you're going to be eating a particular food a lot and you're using a public food, it is a good idea to copy that food to your own private foods. USDA imported foods are a subset of public foods. They are public foods which have been directly imported from the USDA database, which is extremely accurate and contains almost all whole foods in existance. Just like any other public food, you may make a private copy if you think you'll be eating it a lot.

Q. Why would I want to share my food with other members by making it public?
A. is a community driven site; as individuals contribute it enriches the site for everyone. My hope is that eventually almost any food you buy at the supermarket will be included in our database, so you won't have to create very many new foods, if any.

Q. What if I screwed up when I created a food?
A. You may edit the food with any corrections you have. You will be given the option to also update the public food copy if you own it.

Q. One of another member's public foods is obviously wrong. How can it be fixed or deleted?
A. You may flag that food. Click on "Flag this food" and give a reason and description. The food will be reviewed by a moderator and appropriate action taken to correct the food. The member who created that food will be notified that their public food was changed or deleted (but not who flagged the food).

Q. What is the preferred unit of measurement?
A. In general, for solid foods, weight is the most accurate unit (if you have a scale). For liquids, volume is usually a more accurate measurement (if you have measuring cups and spoons). If the food is normally consumed as a standard unit or package, either Servings or a Custom unit is normally preferred and more convenient. Take a protein bar for example, it is convenient to create a Custom Unit called "Bars", so it is obvious that the protein bar is consumed in units of "Bars". For fish oil tablets, you may create a Custom Unit called "Tablets". Of course, will let you use any unit you want when you create the food. You may also create multiple versions of the same food with different unit types, such as one by weight, and one by volume.

Q. Do I need a food scale to use
A. No, this is not required, you can definitely use with it. However, many people find having a scale makes it easier to accurately measure foods for entry (particularly solid food). If you want to "take it to the next level", a nice digital food scale is a great investment.

Q. I tend to eat the same meal over and over again. Is there a way for to save that meal with all the foods it contains and add it all at once at a later date?
A. Absolutely. On that daily meal just click "Add this meal to my saved meals". You may then modify that meal, add or delete foods in it, and adjust the amounts before you save it. To then add that meal later, click "Add a saved meal" at the bottom of the main screen, search for that meal, and then click on it.

Q. Is it better to be proactive and enter all my meals in for the day before I eat them, or reactive, and enter in the foods as I eat them?
A. In general, most people find it better to be proactive and enter all their meals in for the day before they eat them. You may choose any day in the future, or even the past for that matter and enter foods for that day. Then as you eat the foods, you may adjust the amounts the actual amount that you ate. This way you stand the best chance of meeting your goals by the end of the day.

Q. Why do I have to search for a food before I can create it?
A. This is simply to avoid duplicates in the database. You might assume a food is not in the database and try to create it, when it was already in there.

Q. Can I create more than one of the same food but with different measurement types?
A. Yes, will allow you to do this. This can be very useful for certain food items, where sometimes you'll weigh, or measure it's volume, or even eat an arbitrary unit of (custom units).


Q. What should I put for my bodyfat %?
A. Most people will leave this field blank, so if you don't know your bodyfat %, don't worry. If you've been accurately tested using a method such as hydrostatic, or calipers from a trained professional, you may put this number here. It will give a slightly more accurate result for calories expended, and also tracks your bodyfat % over time. This graph is displayed on the Daily Details page.

Q. Do I have to give up all that information in my profile to use
A. No, you don't. only uses the information such as your age and height and weight to personally calculate your daily nutrition, for your own benefit. This information is kept private according to your privacy settings. It will never be sold or shared with any third parties. But if you still don't want to enter this information in, you don't have to. You may set your target calorie intake and macronutrient ratio anyway, you just won't have the additional information calculates. See our privacy policy for more information.

Q. Who can view my profile?
A. By default, profiles are set to private, so no one can view anything about you. You may choose however, to set your privacy settings so that you may share what you're eating with friends, nutritionist, personal trainor, etc.

Q. As my weight changes, should I update the value in
A. Yes, you should. This will change the value of your maintenance calories and fat loss calories. Don't forget to update your target amount as well. This goes for bodyfat % as well, if you have this information (most people won't, so don't worry).

Q. How does calculate my BMR, maintenance calories, and fat loss calories?
A. To calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), we use the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation. It was shown by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) to be the most accurate equation for calculating calorie expenditure. Your maintenance calories are calculated by multiplying the BMR by a constant depending on your level of activity. Your fat loss level is calculated by multiplying the maintenance calories by 80%.

Q. What's the deal with the Body Mass Index (BMI)?
A. The BMI is an outdated equation to attempt to determine if someone is underweight, overweight, or obese. It is inaccurate and it's usefulness is very limited. In my opinion, it places too much emphasis on weight instead of overall health. Since is likely to used by many athletes, who the BMI often classify as overweight, I feel it an insult to even include it.

Q. What should I put for my target calories?
A. That depends on your particular goals. If you want to maintain your current weight, you should put the number calculated for maintainance calories. This is an estimate of the number of calories you expend in one day, so when calories in equals calories out, your weight is maintained. If you want to lose weight, you should put the number calculated for your fat loss level. If you consume the fat loss level amount of calories, and the information you entered was accurate, you should be able to lose about 1-2 pounds per week. It is not a good idea to go much lower than this number, as this can cause your body to go into starvation mode, you'll lose muscle, slow your metabolism, and likely gain the weight back (yo-yo dieting). Remember, it is almost always better to burn more calories rather than restrict more, so increasing your workout schedule and your corresponding activity level in your profile is beneficial. There are situations where someone may want to put in another number, such as if they are trying to gain weight, are contest prepping, etc., which is why you are free to choose your own number.

Q. What should I put for my target macronutrient ratio?
A. This is often a point of debate. In general, most people will probably use either the USDA Daily Recommended or the Zone Diet ratio. If you're bodybuilding, choose one of the bodybuilding ratios. If you're on Atkins, there is a ketogenic ratio. You may also choose your own ratio. Some people believe the macronutrient ratio is not very important. In general, meeting your calories consumed target should be prioritized over meeting your macronutrient ratio target.

Q. How is my target fiber calculated?
A. The Institute of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommend that children (ages 1 and up) and adults consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories of food they eat each day. So the target fiber we set for you is a function of the target calories you set for yourself, according to this formula.

Q. How do I know if I'm in a sodium sensitive group, and what does this mean?
A. According to the Institute of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, sodium sensitive groups include individuals with hypertension, blacks, and middle-aged and older adults. It is recommended these groups consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, others are recommended up to 2,300 mg per day.

Q. What about potassium?
A. It is also recommened that everyone consume 4,700 mg per day of potassium, which helps to blunt the effect of sodium. Unfortunately potassium is hard to track if you're not consuming mostly whole foods (which the USDA, and consequently,, has the potassium value for), as at least in the U.S. potassium content is not a required listed nutrient. As such, most nutrition labels don't list it. In general, try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables as these contain high amounts of potassium. Interestingly, most people grossly over consume sodium, and under consume potassium.