[App Fridays] Keen to stay on top of your health and fitness goals? We suggest you Tweak and Eat
You’re out at a buffet lunch, and putting all that you fancy on your plate. And that’s when you remember that you’re trying to lose weight and/or stay healthy. What do you do? Why not Tweak and Eat? This health and fitness app lets you use your smartphone's camera to judge your food in real time, and makes suggestions so you can “tweak” your plate to make your meal healthier.
Co-founded by Narayanan Ram and Anand Subra, the Tweak an Eat app is owned by Purple Teal Inc, a global provider of mobile Health (mHealth) apps and services based in Fremont, California, US.
Launched in December 2017, Tweak and Eat has already surpassed more than 5 lakh installs on Google’s Play Store and has a 4.1-star rating. The company says that its user base is spread across India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Kuwait, and the US. We tried the app for a week to find out whether it adds any extra nutrition to our plates (and value to our phones).
Step by step to a healthier lifestyle
You can start using the app by creating an account with your phone number. After signing up, the app needs you to fill a small form with information such as name, email ID, age, height, weight, and gender. The next page of the form needs information on food choices, such as vegan, dairy, eggs, and allergies, if any. The form also needs data on existing health conditions such as blood pressure, diabetes, and others. Finally, you need to key in your body type and goals. We found the form-filling process easy and quick.
Now, on to using the app. The highlight of the app is learning about your plate’s nutrition on the go and adding more value to it. To do this, you need to upload or click a picture of your meal (plate of food and drink). Tweak and Eat’s AI-enabled platform immediately analyses the food items and the nutritional makeup of the meal, and helps nutritionists in making real-time “tweaks” to the meal.
We clicked photos of plates with an omelette, paratha, pakore, a full Indian meal, and others. The app could identify some meal items such as omelette, bread, pickle, salad, Indian-style curry, and more. It suggested a tweak, if required, or simply suggested not eating a particular item. For instance, it suggested not drinking tea with a meal and offered a tweak: adding a salad instead. Apart from that, it also provides a nutrition report based on the photo, and proffers the percentage of carbs, protein, fat etc of the food on the plate.
This tweak is quick and mostly accurate. If it doesn't guess what you are eating, then it asks you to add the item instead of giving wrong tweaks or wrong guesses. We could not find out how to add food items, so we did so by tapping ‘Ask a question’ in the middle left on the photo. However, this was not as quick as the AI-enabled response. In fact, we did not receive any response at all.
The company claims that the meal changes are based on individual goals and body parameters, and refer to portion control, re-proportioning, eating sequence, tips, and other meal modification suggestions by nutritionists. The tweaks are designed to improve the nutrition profiles of meals so that diet-related health conditions like weight, diabetes, BP, etc. can be better managed. However, since we did not add any conditions, we could not find if our suggestions were customised as per the information.
The app has a freemium model. While all these features are for free, one can also buy various paid packages such as personalised diet plans, goal-specific nutrition plans, or speak to nutritionists.
UI and app design
The homepage of the app is easy and clean, despite the many options. The ‘My EDR’ (Electronic Diet Report) feature allows you to look at your previous tweaks, like a food diary. The ‘My Nutrition’ tab on the home screen shows your overall meal diary with weekly reports that include intake of carbs, protein, fat, calories, etc. The app also has a ‘Recipe Wall’, which offers healthy vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes. The ‘Tweak Wall’ is the social media feature of the app, where you can see other people’s tweaks. There is also a ‘My Fitness’ tab, which lets you sync wearable device Fitbit with the app.
PurpleTeal says Tweak and Eat’s AI platform is well trained to differentiate between deep-fried and grilled/stir-fried/baked food. However, when we uploaded a picture of pakore, a popular deep fried Indian snack, it could not identify the food item.
The design of the app is not impressive. The image emojis and the graphics and texts on the ‘tweaked’ food image also need a bit of polishing; they look a bit amateur currently. But since the app has not even completed a full year, it is understandable that this is still a work in progress.
Real-time assistance on meals can be really helpful for users keen on mindful eating and looking to manage lifestyle conditions such as PCOD, PCOS, diabetes, BP, hypertension, and other food-related concerns.
Apart from the fact that the app needs more accuracy in its AI, and a sharper look and feel, the concept is different and extremely helpful. The AI’s promptness wins the “brownie” point here without extra calories! And that why we recommend you give this app a try.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)