New Barcode Scanner, New Paths To Success
by Dr. Mike Israetel |
Sep 29, 2019
The most recent update to the RP Diet App introduces two new features. The first is a food library of tens of thousands of restaurant foods. The second is a list of several hundred thousand food items you can purchase at the grocery store, convenience store, or have shipped to you. The second list also comes with a barcode scanner, so that you can use your phone’s camera to scan in the barcode of almost any branded food.
Once you either scan a food in or enter it, its macros automatically populate into your meal macros, and you can choose the amount of food you want to eat to fill as much of that meal’s macros as you like! This means that if you’re on the run and order a McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich, you can fit it right into your meal, and you can stick to your RP Diet without a hitch. Or, if you’re adding a protein bar to your meal, you can simply scan it in, and the bar automatically registers into your meal, no math needed!
The absolutely great news about this update is that it’s going to make your dieting journey that much easier and more flexible. No more guesstimating macros or trying to look them up on another app. With over 750,000 foods, and monthly updates of thousands more, you’ve very likely to find what you’re looking for and seamlessly fit it into your diet. But there is a slight mystery: what foods are you supposed to choose for best results?
You’re using this app to live a healthy lifestyle, which can often mean that you’re either trying to lose fat or trying to optimize your health in maintenance or muscle gain. With over 750,000 foods, the number of healthy options is mind-boggling. But, for what it’s worth, the number of not-so-healthy options, and, to be honest, the number of downright junk food options is also staggering.
Before the update, the app was populated with a much, much smaller list of foods, but they were nearly all the healthiest kinds of foods. Lean meats, healthy fats, veggies, fruits, and whole grains. To be perfectly compliant with the RP Diet, you had to eat from that list of foods, so you automatically ate the very best fat loss and health-promoting foods. But now, you can eat nearly all junk and as far as the app seems to approve, you’re doing as well as ever. Is this really true?
Only to a point. It turns out that the vast majority of fat loss effects (about 95%) and the majority of health effects (about 80%) from what you eat occur because you’re controlling your calories, macros, and timing appropriately. Only 20% of the effects of what you eat on your health and just 5% of the effects on how much fat you lose (or muscle you gain) are influenced by the details of your actual food choices. Because the RP Diet App guides you on calories, macros, and timing, those bases are covered.
So yes, you can eat whatever you want, so long as it meets the macros of each meal on the app, and do just fine. But you might want to do better than fine, especially for your health. 80% is all well and good, but maybe aiming for 100% is a better idea, considering that even the strictest of us dieters is rarely perfect in compliance anyway!
Because health and fat loss can be enhanced by choosing your foods wisely, we do recommend that you stick mostly to the healthiest sources of food and keep the other stuff to a smaller fraction of your intake. A very reasonable goal is a 75%/25% split. If you can meet 75% of your daily macros through healthy sources, you can eat the rest in “more interesting” food that might not be, by itself, the healthiest. You don’t have to be super precise with these numbers. All you have to do is focus most of your eating on the healthiest sources, and the rest will fall into place.
This flexibility allows your diet to be much more enjoyable and sustainable. There are, however, some benefits of minimizing fun food. The first is the fullness. Hunger while dieting is somewhat inevitable, but there are certain strategies that you can implement to minimize it. Some of them are build-in into the app by default, as a high protein intake. But in other aspects you have a bit more customization available to you, so you can personalize it as you sit fit. One of the biggest variables you should pay attention to when fighting hunger is energy-density. Eat foods that have as much volume and fiber, but as few calories, as possible. Vegetables are the most straightforward case, being very low calorie, high volume and with a pretty good amount of fiber. Let’s say you have 30g of carbohydrates for a meal. There are several foods you can pick to fill it, but they will vastly differ in volume and fiber content, which will affect how full you will get from it. Here are a few examples:
This is most intuitive when applied to carbohydrates, but you can also make wiser food choices to maximize fullness with protein and fats. With protein, leaner sources are generally a good idea. With fats, you want to limit oils that have very high energy density, and opt instead for more satiating foods like nuts and avocados.
Another benefit of minimizing tastier food is posited by the Food Palatability-Reward Hypothesis. The takeaway of this hypothesis is that, because of evolutionary pressures to maximize nutrient intake, the tastier a food, the more you want to eat it, time and time again. There are several factors that affect palatability, but, for our purposes, let’s focus on hyperpalatable foods. Such foods are characterized by nutrient profiles that make them very tasty and easy to consume, namely high fat, sugar, and/or sodium content. This is the category to which most junk food belongs, explaining why it's so easy to overeat.
Moderating or even eliminating this type of food during the fat loss phase of a diet is recommended (and, yes, it can be reintroduced judiciously once this phase is complete). Beyond steering clear of hyperpalatable foods, doing the same for foods that one finds especially tasty - even if they're overall diet-friendly - may also help expedite your progress (example: seasoning food less than preferred).
Rest assured, it’s understood that few want unseasoned broccoli for every meal, and that eating some “fun food” here and there can actually breathe new life into the wary dieter, these understandings being driving forces behind this update. This is all to say: go for foods that maximize fullness, and try to sidestep those that are likely to increase your cravings. For most dieters, that means foregoing energy-dense, highly palatable foods during fat loss, in favor of slightly more bland, more filling fare.
The easiest way to focus on the healthiest sources is simply by choosing most of your “Step 1” foods from the “Basics” list of protein options. You can absolutely choose such sources through the “Expanded” and “Restaurant” lists, but just make sure your choices are minimally processed and lean most of the time. You can choose “Expanded” and “Restaurant” options lower in fat or higher in healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, nut butters, and olive and canola oils, but you can also choose the leaner ones, and select more of the healthy fat options from the list of fats in Step 2 of meal creation. Yes, you can get a lot of your carbs from the “Expanded” and “Restaurant” lists, and if you do, make sure they are minimally processed. But you can also just choose lower carb “Expanded” foods and fill up more of your carbs with the veggies, fruits, and whole grains of the “Step 3” carb selection list.
When eating for best fat loss and health through the RP Diet App, trying to prepare most of your meals at home from the minimally processed ingredients found in the “Basics” and Steps 2 and 3 of the meal creation process is a very good idea. When you do use the “Expanded” and “Restaurant” lists, choose the healthier options most of the time. By doing that, you can get the most health, fat loss, and fitness improvement out of your diet, while still leaving a bit of room here and there to indulge in some junky foods! By following the app’s guidance and eating mostly healthy foods, you get the superpowered flexibility of the “Expanded” and “Restaurant” food libraries, with the balance of eating mostly the healthiest kinds of whole foods.
Enjoy the new features of the app, and please, always, tell us how we’re doing and how we can do better for you.