How to use the Lifesum food, meal and day rating to create healthy habits

6 minReading time

Get the low down on nutrition with food ratings and understand what you should be eating and tracking in the Lifesum app. 

In this blog post, we’ll cover:

  • The importance of eating wholesome and healthy food
  • Why eating unhealthy foods in moderation can help you maintain better eating habits over time. 
  • Why we have food ratings
  • How food ratings will help you learn more about nutrition
  • Why food items considered to be ‘healthy’ can still give you a bad rating

1. The importance of eating wholesome and healthy food

We all know there are healthy foods and not so healthy foods. However, it can still be difficult to make certain food choices, especially when there is speculation over foods which are considered to be unhealthy or healthy. 

In spite of this, there are recommended foods that are scientifically proven to either make you healthier or unhealthier, underpinned by an abundance of research.

The Lifesum app is designed to help you follow these recommendations for better health.

2. Why we have a food rating

We have a food rating feature within the app which supports your food choices. We use an algorithm to assess the nutrients you should be increasing in your diet (protein, unsaturated fat, fiber) vs the nutrients you should aim to keep to a minimum (saturated fat, salt and sugar). 

The algorithm is applied per 100 calories as the standard rating. This is the most accurate way to score food currently although, for dry items such as crisp bread, cereals or protein powder, which are typically measured in grams, means that you will consume a smaller amount of these foods as part of your diet plan.

Contrary to other ratings on Lifesum diets, we assess the food items and carbohydrates per 100g on the ketogenic rating as this is a good guideline in order to keep the carb intake low, enabling users to stay in ketosis.

3. How do food ratings improve your knowledge on nutrition?

Our app allows you to assess the nutritional information of food items. If you search for a particular product, a natural yoghurt, for example, you will see a list of pros and cons and why it was awarded a particular rating. 

So, a natural yoghurt will inevitably get the highest rating due to a good balance of nutrients. Within the pros and cons section it will state it is a good source of protein, doesn’t contain too much sodium and only has natural sugar. 

If you search for a sweetened fruit yogurt, or something similar, you will instead see one of the lower ratings. This is because the item has an imbalance of nutrients. It contains more sugar than what is recommended per serving and has ‘added’ not natural sugar. However, bear in mind that an item with a low rating can still have some positive benefits — ‘low in sodium’ for example. 

Having visibility of nutritional information for food items and meals will help you understand what you are consuming and over time will help you improve your knowledge of nutrition. 

4. Different ratings depending on diet

The rating system supports all users on their diet plans. However, people’s health journeys are not all the same so the app has different diets with different purposes.  

On the classic diet, for example, the purpose is to follow government guidelines and recommendations. Fruit and vegetables are very important on this plan and items like bananas will receive the highest nutritional value rating. ‘Low in sodium’ and ‘high in natural sugar’ is what you can expect to see under the pros and cons section in the app.

The intake of sodium and saturated fats on the classic diet plan will be limited. Bacon, for example will receive a low rating. ‘Low in sugar’ will be considered a pro whilst ‘high in sodium’ and ‘high saturated fat’ will be considered a con. 

The ketogenic diet has a different purpose which is to drastically reduce carbohydrates. In this instance, other nutritional components may be taken into consideration for the rating. For example, the carbohydrate content will be low in order to achieve ketosis.

On this diet, a banana will get one of the lowest ratings and will be considered negatively as it is high in carbohydrates, whilst ‘low in sodium’ will be listed as a pro.

One parameter that is rewarded in the Ketogenic rating is a high fat content. An item like bacon will get the highest rating with feedback such as ‘good source of protein’, ‘good source of fat’ or ‘low in carbohydrates’.  ‘High in sodium’ and ‘processed’ will appear as a negative for this item.

5. Room for indulgence – Meal and day rating

When you’re on a diet, it’s important to understand that nothing is so healthy that it is the only thing you should eat, and nothing is so unhealthy that it can never be eaten.

The meal and day rating feature of the Lifesum app is designed to support users in eating a well-balanced meal with calorie distribution as recommended by government guidelines. In addition, the meal and day rating guides users to eat the optimum portion size.  

An example of this feature in action might be, if you were to track items with the highest food rating to make up a meal, you wouldn’t necessarily achieve a good meal rating overall. This is because even if the meal contains nutritious food items, the portion size may be too big or too small and thus will receive a lower rating. This is displayed to help users eat varied meals with all the essential nutrients as well as provide guidance in reaching daily goals for calories, macros and micros.

Take a look at these meal examples from the app.

Example 1: We can see above that even though the individual food items have good ratings the calorie content in this breakfast meal is too small. It also lacks protein, carbs, fiber and/or fat. This meal would therefore receive a bad rating (off track).

Example 2: In the second example above, the breakfast consists of one serving of oatmeal with strawberry jam, almonds, a cup of coffee and one boiled egg. Although the jam achieves a low score by itself, it was added to the breakfast meal in moderation. Therefore, the meal still gets a perfect rating since the rest of the content is nutritious. 

The same can be applied to a ‘day rating’ which combines all your meals.

The user in the example above has pretty good ratings for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The meals consist of good amounts of protein, unsaturated fat and fiber and they have consumed limited amounts of sugar, sodium and saturated fat. This allows room for a muffin as a snack. The item itself is not considered healthy, but it doesn’t affect the day rating because it fits within the daily nutritional distribution. It should be noted that it is still acceptable to consume a small amount of added sugar (which you would find in a muffin) on a daily basis and lose weight!

This is a perfect example of eating a well-balanced diet to achieve a sustainable healthy lifestyle. If you make room for comfort food in moderation, it is more likely that you will maintain your healthy eating habits and see the results you are looking for.

With Lifesum, tracking your healthy habits (and the not so healthy ones) becomes a breeze. We’ll help you pick the right food, and eat the right portion sizes, to reach your personal health goals.

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