Our view on nutrition tracking, why track what you eat and tips on how to get the most out of it.

Philosophy of Tracking What You Eat

If you are here, then you care about what you eat. Whether it is for health, or to improve your quality of life, or to simply optimise your nutrition footprint.

Tracking nutrition is not easy. You need the data, you need to be consistent, and you need to understand what to track. In order to succeed you need all three.

Nutrition science is still new, and the data is not easily available. For many processed products the data simply does not exist at all.

It is also difficult to stay consistent, it requires a bit of effort every day. And understanding what to track means educating yourself.

Nutriely attempts to help with all three, and it provides you the tools to make the best out of this situation.

Imagine this scenario.

You register to a new nutrition app. You are excited to start tracking. You configure your profile and nutrition targets and go to the diary to start logging.

But the first product you want to add isn’t there. For most people that is enough to give up.

Just as frustrating is to add a product and see only macro elements calculated. What about iron or calcium, or selenium? Or what about vitamins?

Scanning a barcode works well if you are only interested in macro elements like protein, fat and carbs. For trivial use-cases that might be good enough. Unfortunately barcode databases simply don’t have data about minerals and vitamins.

This data just does not exist, anywhere. At the moment there are no laws or regulations that would encourage manufacturers to publish this information.

So if you are interested to track more than just macro elements you might get frustrated very quickly. There are many amazing apps that provide you with a vast range of features, and large databases. Scanning a barcode is fast but it limits your insights significantly.

In the perfect world we would have all of the products with all the vitamins and minerals accounted for, but that is not the case. Yet.

Our philosophy

Tracking nutrients will never be 100% precise. It is impossible to test every single cookie or apple to see if indeed there are as many carbs and vitamins as we think. It is also unlikely we are going to weight absolutely everything, or know how much water was lost in the cooking process, or know exactly what we ate every single meal.

So we approximate.

Approximating is good enough because our goal is to see the big picture, to see the trends and glaring problems in our patterns.

In order for that to work we don’t need to be perfectly precise, but we do need to be consistent. We need to be consistent in how we enter the data, when we do it, and what information we log.

Instead of relying on incomplete data, or waiting on someone else to fill in all the blanks you can use Nutriely.


In order to see the big picture we use the nutrition diary. In the diary you log what you eat every day. You see both how you are doing today, and how your trends change over time. Based on the big picture you can set targets, make adjustments and learn from your past.

To make sure that the big picture is valuable we provide you with a set of base foods. These foods cover most of what you would cook at home, like raw vegetables, grains, fruits, etc… We call these the base foods.

Our database intentionally does not focus on providing information for all branded industrial foods. There are thousands of brands of white beans, so there is no point of polluting the database with every one of them.

We suggest to think about food in terms what it is, not how it is branded. The average beans you can find the base foods will be good enough to show you the big picture. Surely, there are some minor differences in the nutritional value of each brand, but most of them are insignificant.

We also encourage you to educate yourself by verifying the data yourself. You can see the nutrition labels, and compare with the product you ate. If you use a certain type of beans that differ significantly from the average, you can build your own copy of the product and adjust the values that you want to modify.

If you don’t eat a lot of processed foods, then tracking should be simple using the base dataset provided by Nutriely.

However it is more than likely that you will eat something that is not in our database. To ensure you are able to track it, we offer tools to build foods and recipes. Applying our strategy and philosophy you will be able to get an approximated version nutritional data for any food or recipe.

Should I add a recipe or food?

As a rule of thumb, always build a recipe unless you have all of the minerals and vitamins you want to track readily available to enter.

When building a recipe you will be able to add ingredients which will help you approximate the nutrition value of the components that you don’t know.

However when you already know all of the components you don’t need to add ingredients (unless you want to) because then you can simply enter the component values.

For example, if you have a chocolate cream that you know only macro-nutrient values, you would build a recipe taking the ingredients from the chocolate cream label. However if the label already contains a detailed set of nutrient values then use those.

Whenever building a recipe we suggest you reverse engineer the ingredients.

Reverse engineer the recipe from product label

To reverse engineer a recipe you will need a product label that lists the ingredients, and the macro-nutrition values to approximate how much of each ingredient there are. You can use this information to reverse engineer the recipe for this product from scratch.

  1. Go to recipe engineer
  2. Start by adding the main ingredients. More often than not the ingredients have percentages that indicate how much of the product consists of this ingredient. Use that to approximate the amounts of ingredients.
  3. Next you need to enter the macros that are indicated on the product label. Once you enter the ingredients you should have somewhat similar values but it is likely they won’t be exact.
  4. Calculate and see our algorithm find the exact ingredient quantities that will let you estimate the other nutrient values.
  5. Save the product and use it in your diary.

In the end you have a product that has all of the minerals, vitamins and macros that you want to track.

The values are not exact. The values are likely not precise. But at least you have information for minerals and vitamins that you can now track in your diary. As long as you are consistent with how you track, you will be able to use the big picture to see trends and adjust your nutrition accordingly.

Nutriely diary and recipe builder is meant for you to experiment and learn about nutrition while doing so. It takes some work on your part. And this method is not for everyone. But it can be very rewarding to understand what it is you eat, and learning about each product is part of your nutrition journey. Maybe just by reverse engineering the product labels you will learn something new, or decide to change your habits for the better.

What if there are no detailed ingredients on the label of the product?

If you can’t find the nutritional value, or the ingredients we encourage you to ask yourself this question: Why am I eating this?

Hidden ingredients and obscure nutritional value is not something that we promote, so these are products that simply don’t deserve your attention. As consumers we are the ones who provide demand, and in a way our choices shape the accountability of the manufacturers.