The importance of a balanced diet cannot be nullified in one's life, it promotes healthy living by providing us with adequate caloric needs of the body, carbohydrates, proteins, essential fats, minerals, vitamins, all micro and macronutrients required by the body to perform activities at each stage of life. Data on emerging evidence recommends that people with diet-related medical conditions like Obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases face more consequences of infectious diseases like Coronavirus and thereafter need intense health care.

With growing awareness, people are becoming conscious about the diets they consume targeting more fitness. A vague perception about a diet plan is to associate it with a short-term weight loss to achieve specific targets by restricting food intake. A diet plan is custom-made to one's health, weight, daily activities, along with his target to gain or lose weight or to meet specific health goals. Following a balanced diet plan helps an individual achieve not only weight loss but also ideal health to perform better in routine life.

The science of nutrition is quite complicated, despite having a lot of studies on trends in diets and a lot of information is available on food's role in one's life still there is a gap to justify the data because each human has different dietary needs. The idea of one optimal diet for all is not fit for all. Every individual has its metabolism, microbiome (more than 1000 species of about 40 trillion bacteria exist in the human gut), lifestyle along with other contributing factors like family history, medical situation, eating preferences that differ among all of us. A diet plan should not be common for all, but it should be individualized, and it should also cover the cost and convenience of its end-user.

AI in Diet Management

Artificial intelligence is increasing its part in human life with each passing day. We are already using many features of AI in multiple ways. With further evolution, AI is paving its path towards the very personal aspect of each human through its implementation in diet management and the food industry.

The food industry is using AI in multiple perspectives like predicting a flavor's impact on final food or robots used in mega food processing units. The new change in this field is coming through a diet plan guided by AI, this technology is emerging at a rapid pace and we can predict to see improved software very sooner that can make personalized diet plans based on our physical attributes and the set targets precisely.

Scientists are working in this field in various aspects, but a major development was conducted by Israel’s the Weizmann Institute of Science. The institute published a paper in a journal demonstrating the increase in blood glucose levels in response to eating. This research concluded that every individual responds differently to the same food consumed in the same quantity. More than one hundred factors are involved in glycemic response among which food was not the key factor. This study leads to the need for an individualized diet plan rather than formulating one for all.

The diet plan program will be dependent on data analytics and machine learning to create a comprehensive plan of meals for a person based on its actual metabolic need. In parallel it can help design a meal plan covering the actual requirements & deficiencies in a person, this concept has the potential to save millions of people by preventing diseases related to obesity like diabetes, heart diseases, and other complications due to malnutrition. AI-based diet plan considering accurate attributes will increase the probability of its effectiveness for sustainable weight loss against a diet plan constructed on assumptions.

AI-Based Diet Planners Working model

  • An AI-based Diet planning model is based on the experience of nutritionists in combination with the most recent scientific findings in this field for which data is available. A diet planning app does not only rely on counting calories rather it acquires all the data relevant to your physical characteristics along with your dietary patterns, hunger, sleep patterns, habits, and so many other metrics.
  • Another attribute of these programs is that it's not just a collection of data, but algorithms constantly assess the trend out of this data and make informed changes targeting the fitness of the client through nutrients supplied in the suggested diet plan.
  • For each target individual weekly menu is prepared using a varied algorithm by the AI-based diet planners. The baseline is decided through data collected for a person's physical characteristics, health condition, and lifestyle. Beyoncé 22 Days Nutrition is exemplary in this context that uses machine learning to assist people to consume healthy meals and offer them personalized solutions of their choice.
  • Meal planning in some specialized apps also includes data related to the genetics of the clients whereby an optimal meal plan is created to fulfill nutritional needs along with dietary preferences.
  • This meal planner program uses an algorithm to suggest a dietary menu on a daily and weekly basis to meet the nutritional levels of end-users targeting the problem. Rule-based valuation helps to deploy the mean occurrence of the nutritive components, leading to a method for regulating the diversity and synchronization of the menus.
  • The weekly plans thus formed satisfy the nutritional requirements along with the provision of assorted foods addressing the target problem of the prospect.

If a person strictly follows the advised diet plan, he can surely meet the fitness goals in a targeted time with sustainable results effective for a longer time. However, troubles in AI-based diet planning platforms include food logging; you must rely on the bar code of food that you eat which may not always be correct except you are always eating packaged food with exact nutrients mentioned in the country where food processors strictly follow the rules regarding this food labeling.

When there is innovation there is always a risk of job loss involved with it, in this case, nutritionists might consider their job at risk when an AI-equipped diet managing program would recommend more precisely and quickly. An efficient AI-based program will be making quick and smart decisions to suggest the diet plan based on loads of data bits which a normal human brain is incapable to do.

AI-Based online Platforms

Many AI-based platforms help their clients with nutrition and diet planning. The most important feature in these apps is food image recognition. A report in a journal in the year 2020 revealed that early models of such platforms were 78 to 92% accurate in identifying the food image which is quite reasonable as they were trained with more than 50,000 food images.

Let’s have a brief look at some of the apps in this category:

FitGenie

FitGenie is a user-friendly app that relies on AI to generate customized data on calories intake and guides food accordingly. This app gives a semi-personalized week diet plan based on analysis of diets and calorie counter tools to adjust micro and macronutrients for its users. The app starts with an assessment containing 9 questions including gender, body features, diet preferences, BMI, lifestyle, and goals. It offers everyone a free course to learn about macro plans, ask for the goals, and helps reach your goals with a meal planner and macro-tracker. This app also helps its clients create lifelong habits to sustain the success achieved using it.

People review this app best for those who target to maintain a log of their meal intake and desire to learn new recipes and diet plan ideas. Its premium version is even more worthwhile that covers more attributes and guides more precisely.

Nutrino (Foodprint)

This platform includes data services based on nutrition and analytics with a target to become a reliable source of the nutrition-related platform. This platform uses mathematical models, predictive analysis, and NLP to enable data compilation for individuals. Nutrino has acquired vast data from hundreds of sources that can be used to get your desired results adding power to your business. This app has developed reliable data collection and analysis tools on its own which is available for licensing. Further, they are also offering data on foods and nutrition to the food processors to enrich their formulations, product offerings, and services. Nutrino is also working as a device hub; it has developed integrations with other apps, datasets, wearables, and devices. Through this hub, partners can access more than 100 inputs in a simple format.

This app claims an 18% reduction in hypoglycemic events in diabetic patients who used FoodPrint for their diet plans. In 2017 Nutrino won Biomed Startup of the year, it has got a database of more than 1.3 million foods including basic foods, processed and prepared meals. This app used voice, text, images, and scans the barcode to track food. Moreover, it can determine the optimal frequent meals for a person, while no manual tracking is required as it can fetch data from multiple sources. It has also included more than 350 thousand restaurant locations in its database to support the diet recommendations. Nutrino complies with HIPAA to ensure confidentiality of patient data and security of protected health information.

Calorie Mama

Calorie Mama is considered an appropriate AI-based Meal planner and food macro counter app that simply counts calories automatically. You must share a photo of the food and it will share the calories this food can contribute, it recognizes thousands of foods including fruits, vegetables, pulses, cereals, beverages, and many more. This app also can read the barcode of packaged foods and complex cuisines.

This app is simple to use that asks some basic questions to determine anthropometrics, lifestyle, and calorie goals and then provide calorie level to achieve the target weight loss. It uses food recognition to calculate calories contributed through carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in any food. It also keeps you aware of meals frequency, exercise time, and water intake. For the judgment of your exercise, it offers a motion tracker to count steps. In this app, you can also engage yourself with the community using the same app and see nutrition and health-related content written by renowned nutritionists.

HealthifyMe

HealthifyMe is an Indian digital platform that targets specific health and wellness-related goals, tracks calories you consume, suggests optimal diet plans, and exercises. It has a dashboard reflecting carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fiber consumed. Its premium subscription also includes AI-driven nutritionist “Ria” which learned through over 200 million food logs and 10 million messages. Ria is announced the first AI-powered virtual nutritionist in the world. Ria 2.0 also includes the feature "Snap" in which a user can share a picture of the meal and the app can identify the ingredients and share a log for calorie contribution. "Smart Plans" is another feature where users get a personalized diet plan from Ria. As per reports, Ria handles more than 80% of queries received from users. In 2019 Ria also integrated as Alexa skill for Amazon Echo speakers and Alexa built-in devices.

Bite AI

Bite AI is recognized as a Food Intelligence Platform for its users, it offers machine-learned algorithms to recognize food, understand about it, and share reasons for its use. Like other similar apps, Bite AI recognizes a food but detection levels are considered more accurate as it can categorize the dishes like Soup, beverages, meals, and further, it can predict attributes in a meal like a cuisine, its flavor, and method of preparation as well. Statistics related to foods like popularity, their shelf life, time to consume, and other foods people like to eat with it, are also recommended by this app. Optical character recognition technology is used for label recognition that contributes to a higher level of accuracy, and the output of these nutrition facts is represented in an easy way for better end-user understanding. Overall rating of this app is good as it is easy to use and helps people understand the nutrients present in the meals they consume and allows you to make your recipes with the ingredients you choose.

Mealviser

Mealviser is considered an AI dietician who keeps you on right track by recommending you the meals that benefit you. It is supported by a database that covers more than 500,000 food items while it also helps to create suitable recipes.

AI-based Automation in Kitchen

With the recent advancement in AI, companies are entering this field with multiple new concepts.  Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd announced its latest edition of the Family Hub refrigerator that carries features like meal planning, inventory management and gives a personalized experience while using. Using Family Hub you can set your dietary goals and it can recommend smart recipes based on the metabolic requirement. Its view inside the camera is equipped with AI image recognition that identifies the products placed in the refrigerator and keeps you informed about the inventories.

Challenges

AI-based diet planning is an emerging opportunity to grab but it’s a tough task to complete as there are so many challenges a company needs to face once accepted. Teradata held a survey revealing that 80% of organizations were adapting AI in their business someway. On the other hand, there are more than 90% of the predicted major challenges in its full adoption.

Key challenges in this field include:

  • There are very limited skilled people to work on AI-related projects.
  • Availability of IT-related infrastructure is no more a challenge but still, its cost is high and companies with limited budgets hesitate to invest in it.
  • Availability of comprehensive electronic health records including not only physiological measures but also medical history, laboratory reports, information on allergies, medical prescriptions, and other related information in the form of data so that some correlation or information can be extracted out of it.
  • Authenticity and integration of the data is a big challenge in this field. A standardized format will be required to collect the information which is also upgradeable with time like new versions of any app. Based on the sensitivity of work, an infrastructure is required to support technically on how to collect data, and refresher courses are also required from time to time.
  • Another challenge could be the standardization of this data, extraction of desired information out of this data, and deriving new insights using computational and mathematical tools.
  • Scarcity of data can lead to false inference in some cases. In a record if some data is missing or shared in an unstructured way, it will not help conclude any inference nor can it be made a part of any structured database.

Wrapping Note

In near future, the field of weight control, meal planning, nutrition of humans appears to leverage more with AI-based platforms. AI diet planning programs employ ML and data analytics; hence create an ideal meal plan based on the individual’s digestive system and his basic needs. AI-based apps like “Spoonshot” suggest recipes based on ingredients available. Such apps also demonstrate cooking by a robot. Similarly, some applications track the behavior of the user for a specific time and suggest the recipe of the user's choice. HealthifyMe, Nutrino, and Gulpie are similar apps that one way or another using AI-based learning and are popular among the audience for the same reason. This trend is gaining popularity due to the growing acceptability of AI techniques in multiple other fields. Truly speaking, every individual has his own caloric needs, lifestyle, diseases, and habits so a specific diet plan is not workable for all. With this advancement and associated algorithm, a suggested diet plan after evaluation of all factors can only serve the client more effectively.