New Food Logger coming to the scene: MacroFactor

Hey Cronometer team!

The StrongerByScience team is producing an app, https://www.strongerbyscience.com/macrofactor/

Their app doesn't have a free tier (which means it's unlikely I'll be shifting to it, since the free tier of Cronometer is currently incredibly awesome). However, maybe? I'm going to do the free trial, and then decide.

For me the decision is not "pay $60 or not" it's "pay $600+ or not" -- I have been using the free tier of a food logger for the better part of 12 years now (MyFitnessPal -> LoseIt! -> Cronometer).

Regardless of what I do though, there are some cool innovations that MacroFactor is bringing to the table that I would love if you considered adopting:

  • Timed entries, and a food log with a timestamp (MF example: https://www.strongerbyscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/macrofactor-food-tracking.png -- center image, note the time-slider on the right hand side). I think this is currently a premium feature.
  • Food-entry suggestions based on frequency and time -- like "we see it's 2:30pm on a Wednesday, and every Wednesday at this time we see you log 12oz of Gatorade, would you like to add that to your food log?"
  • Consistency/habit-forming nudges, like the 'streak metric on https://www.strongerbyscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/macrofactor-food-tracking.png (right-hand picture), or the calendar view (center picture). Gotta keep the streak alive!
  • Integration with the Nutrinix food database backend (I would understand if this necessitates a premium subscription, sigh)
  • The option to include/exclude different backends
  • Macro cycling (e.g. higher carbs / lower fats on training days v. rest days).

Thank you for reading! Especially since I'm just on the free tier, basically everything I enjoy is being paid for by others.

Comments

  • And thank you for the link to these guys, @wmarler , I’m trying them out for a month’s subscription. I’ve already found useful articles.

    Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

  • Their app comparison chart isn’t accurate when it comes to Cronometer. I don’t know about the other apps listed.


    Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

  • edited September 2

    Yea, I thought it could use some work as well. I'm still interested in seeing what they produce.

  • I try new things just to know first hand what’s out there. I’ll definitely give this a look.

    Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

  • Hey there, thanks for your interest in MacroFactor! This is Cory from the development team.

    Before building MacroFactor, I had personally logged around 2 years of data in Cronometer, and I think it's a great app!

    I don't want to misrepresent Cronometer in our marketing comparison. Would you mind sharing some of the tweaks you'd make to the Cronometer (Premium) column?

  • edited September 5

    Hi, Cory. Well, I’m embarrassed to say that I was scanning the wrong column. I just looked back and realized that I was looking at myfitnesspal (full micronutrient reporting) not Cronometer.

    My apologies, and good luck with the app.

    Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

  • I'm curious about the "Larg RD-verified food database". Are CRDB, NCCDB, USDA (the sources, among others, used by Cronometer) not curated/verified? When I started using Cronometer I was thrilled to have all of the garbage entries I would find in MFP gone (and tons more found that weren't found with LoseIt!).

    The "Custom Designed Macro Program based on your preferences and goals" -- well, I enter my kcal & macro targets into Cronometer. If I chose, I could tell Cronometer to use a gain/loss target, and supply preferences about what kind of diet I want, and Cronometer would supply a kcal target & macros -- is it quite accurate to non check the box for Cronometer, for this column?

    'Timeline style food log that doesn't lock you into a certain number of meals or snacks' -- now admittedly I don't have Cronometer premium, so I don't get a timeline. Does Cronometer's timeline lock a person into a certain number of meals/snacks? Without having premium I am not locked into a certain number of meals or snacks -- or I suppose I am arguably locked into one, lol.

    "Dynamic & science driven expenditure calculation" -- Cronometer will accept inputs from other sources re: calorie expenditure, and also (I believe) allow you to specify "20 minutes of running" and from your height/weight estimate a kcal burn. I don't use this feature, am I wrong about it being there? Is this not comparable to what MF provides?

    "Convenient Integrations" -- well, I integrate Cronometer with Google Fit and I'm pretty sure it integrates with a number of "smart" scales for some biometrics -- does that not deserve a check in the "Convenient Integrations" column?

  • I’ll let Cory go into details, but I thought again about exactly these items originally and reconsidered.

    I think that RD is registered dietician, in which case they are technically correct. I believe that Cronometer verifies food labels by any of its staff.

    Cronometer doesn’t custom design a macro program. It doesn’t design a program at all. You design what you want and enter the values, either as grams or percentages.

    Cronometer premium locks you into 7 ‘groupings’, which can be any categories you wish. Depending on how you title the groups, they can be meals (breakfast, lunch, etc) or anything else (biometrics, supplements). But you are locked into 7 groups. I like what I saw in the pictures with the timeline in MacroFactor. It’s a novel way to represent the day.

    With the expenditure and integrations, I would need to see the product to understand what they mean and how it differs from Cronometer. At first glance I also thought as you, but the fact that Cory used Cronometer may indicate more to these items than first appears.

    And now, I think I’ll let Cory chime in or it may appear that I’m marketing for them :)

    Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

  • You're spot on p0wer_lifter, :)

    As one major point of clarification up front, I'd like to note that this really is purely a marketing image, so the comparison is certainly set-up in such a way to highlight our features. We actually intend to make, and link out to a more thorough technical comparison with more neutral categorization in the future, but it wasn't an early priority for us.

    For further clarification, I will note that we are in a slightly different product category than Cronometer. Carbon and RP Diet are direct competitors, but MyFitnessPal and Cronometer are primarily on the comparison to orient people who have only ever used major food loggers, because although we are not purely a food logger, it is a big portion of the MacroFactor app.

    Integrations
    They key point here is BYOFL (bring your own food logger). MacroFactor will actually let you a third party food logger as your data source for nutrition should you so choose. The way you can do this is by connecting the food logger you want to use, like say Cronometer, to a major fitness data platform, like say Fitbit, then connect that same integration in MacroFactor.

    Even though we have more to offer in the way of innovation and meaningful features, someone could legitimately use Cronometer Gold and MacroFactor at the same time for less than the cost of RP Diet. Wild!

    Expenditure
    Our dynamic expenditure estimate is deterministically back-calculated using changes in weight and nutrition intake. The scientifically validatable way in which we do so provides a level of precision and reliability that is incomparable to anything on the market. We don't rely on activity data whatsoever in our approach, all possible activity is accounted for, because we have the power of hindsight, we know the input of your nutrition, and the output of your weight, anything in-between need not be considered.

  • we are in a slightly different product category than Cronometer. Carbon and RP Diet are direct competitors, but MyFitnessPal and Cronometer are primarily on the comparison to orient people who have only ever used major food loggers

    That is good perspective.

    MacroFactor will actually let you a third party food logger as your data source for nutrition ... someone could legitimately use Cronometer Gold and MacroFactor at the same time

    Oh really interesting.

    Our dynamic expenditure estimate is deterministically back-calculated using changes in weight and nutrition intake... we know the input of your nutrition, and the output of your weight, anything in-between need not be considered.

    Again super interesting. That's actually the fundamental principal I use, I just do it manually, with a few other inputs (subjective weekly sleep/fatigue/stress/hunger ratings, and objective circumferences). I like the idea, and hope your implementation works!

  • I look forward to testing the new app, @MacroFactor_Cory

    Any plans for a community forum such as this one?

    Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

  • Cool!

    We have no plans at this time for a forum, just the continued support of our Reddit and Facebook group. 🙂

  • Hi guys and thanks for your discussion! I thought I'd chime in a bit on Cronometer's features to give a better picture from my point of view.

    • Timed entries - this is a feature included in Cronometer Gold. We call it timestamps. You can log your foods to the minute and view your diary without diary groups. If you like diary groups too, you can customize up to 8 diary groups, or hide most of them (i.e only display breakfast, lunch dinner to log your three squares, or breakfast, second breakfast and elevenses if you're like me) or turn them all off to see the timeline like so:

      @wmarler is right too, using Cronometer for free does lock you into one group :D

    • RD-verified food database. Foods are analyzed in research labs, so Cronometer gets lab-analyzed nutrient data straight from the sources that RDs use :)

    • Cronometer does use Nutritionix for some branded products, but in our analysis they are not as up to date or complete as our other data sources. However, we do not use Nutritionix for whole foods/generic food products.
    • While we do review all sources of data we use in Cronometer, our curation team edits all _user-submitted _foods before manually adding to our public database
      *All the nutrient data that we have for foods in Cronometer is available to all our users. It's important to me that we don't put this info behind a paywall.

    *Macro cycling. This feature is lacking in Cronometer at the moment. We have been working hard on creating macro templates that work with your dynamic energy target or setting them up with a fixed energy target. We wanted to make sure you would still have all the options for calculating macro targets (ratios, fixed targets, keto targets) to schedule on a weekly basis or apply to any day in your diary as-needed. I cannot wait to use this feature!

    What kind of options were you thinking of @wmarler?

    The option to include/exclude different backends

    Both of these sound like great features!

    • Consistency/habit-forming nudges
    • Food-entry suggestions based on time. Cronometer has the option to show your most frequent or recent foods logged to help making logging more efficient. We've got some more improvements coming in this area soon too.

    As well as using all the data you're meticulously entering to back-calculate your energy expenditure estimate.

    Karen Stark
    cronometer.com
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:
    https://forums.cronometer.com/discussion/27/governing-terms-and-disclaimer

  • @Karen_Cronometer such attentiveness! Thanks :)

    The option to include/exclude different backends

    I didn't know that Nutrinix was used by Cronometer. I (just now) opened the 'filters' option and see the option to select a particular database (NCCDB, USDA, CNF, IFCDB, CRDB, CoFID, NEVO, NUTTAB), but I don't see Nutrinix on the list, and I was thinking that if Nutrinix was expensive from an API-calls perspective, then the option to include/exclude it could be a way to make the Free version more feature rich by saying "use of database is a Premium feature".

    However you wrote:

    Cronometer does use Nutritionix for some branded products, but in our analysis they are not as up to date or complete as our other data sources.

    as well as

    All the nutrient data that we have for foods in Cronometer is available to all our users. It's important to me that we don't put this info behind a paywall.

    which fully clarifies things (and I appreciate your decisions)!

  • (I use Gold and my observations are based on user experience)

    I get some results from Nutritionix when I search for chain restaurant foods. Recipes and product offerings change frequently, and the values I see on the interactive Nutritionix calculator offered via a company's link, versus their PDF, versus brief menu varies. And not in a way to be explained by customizations when ordering. Never mind the actual *menu items*.

    But Nutritionix is there, and FWIW, it's consistent with my experience from MFP and LoseIt days. Sometimes there will be NCCDB data for a menu item, and if the Nutritionix source offers a form of measurement that's a rough match, I use it.

    How does a registered dietitian verify a food other than by retrieving info from a lab-based database or using a nutrition label?

    Or is it that RDs thin the app's food database so to minimize the problem of different entries for the same food but with different data?

    I wish the data quality info in Cronometer were easier to find. Because I will actually spend some time looking for a more complete analog of whatever I am entering rather versus the ease of barcode scanning. For example, I eat Trader Joe's Multigrain Hot Cereal. The packaging data uses the dry weight. But NCCDB has an entry for "multigrain hot cereal" using post preparation measures. It lined up well enough; I log that and get better micronutrient data.

    But I am an end user that likes making a judgment call. 🤷‍♀️ I am also an end user that visualized a one to many relationship for preferred overrides as I wrote this, so I'm really grateful to have an app where the noise is the noise I generate.

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