Jennifer Lopez is in pretty good shape for a 46-year-old, and one of the guys she says keeps her that way, David Kirsch, is available to help out non-Hollywood types now as well, thanks to Israeli diet app platform MakeMyPlate.
“Users of our app will now be able to purchase Kirsch’s diet plans, which have worked wonders for thousands,” said MakeMyPlate CEO Alin Cooperman “A deal with Kirsch, one of the most influential people in the nutrition and health field in the US, is a huge boost of confidence for us,” Cooperman said.
Kirsch has an impressive client list, training not only singer/actress Lopez, but other stars of studio and screen like Heidi Klum, Liv Tyler, and Ellen Barkin. Of course, there are plenty of other diet plans and trainers out there with their own impressive list of clients/proponents/hawkers – so what makes MakeMyPlate stand out from the herd?
“It’s because MakeMyPlate is not a diet plan or program, but a platform to make dieting more accessible and easier,” said Cooperman. “Our objective is to change the user experience, which until now has entailed maintaining tiresome food journals, weighing food and looking at labels for nutrition content. That turns people off to dieting, but we believe our method, in which a user literally gets to see what their plate should look like, is much more motivating. We’re not in competition with anyone, and users can use any diet plan that works for them with MakeMyPlate.”
Indeed, Kirsch and the other celebrity trainers MakeMyPlate works with – Basheerah Ahmad, Betty Murray, and Nicky Holender – don’t need the Israeli app to get more clients; they have thriving businesses already, writing books and appearing on TV shows. The reason they’ve teamed up with MakeMyPlate, said Cooperman, is because they believe in it as a way to get more people fit more easily.
“The idea for the app started a few years after a dietitian told me to write everything I eat on paper and it quickly became arduous and inefficient, and of course I didn’t continue the diet,” said Cooperman. “Diet apps do exist, but MakeMyPlate provides a full solution to managing a diet – starting from choosing a diet plan created by professionals and building a meal plan based on your preferences while still keeping it balanced, to personal tips and support from other users and professional nutritionists in our chat. All this is provided in a visual and easy to use interface, making MakeMyPlate a true one stop shop.”
With the app, users choose a plan (there are three free ones to choose from, as well as several plans from the aforementioned trainers), and get a list of products/ingredients that fit in with that plan. The info on those products and ingredients is already in the MakeMyPlate database; users can easily substitute products one for another, as they prefer.
“We also have deals with some of the leading restaurant chains in America to include their meals in our database,” said Cooperman. “For example, if you go into an Appleby’s and want to order a dish, you can see if it fits with your meal plan just by looking it up, and whether there are alternatives or substitutes that might be a better idea.”
But MakeMyPlate’s real trick is visualizing everything for the users – by using images instead of data to present the information they need to eat healthy.
“Once you choose your meal based on the plan, MakeMyPlate shows you what that plate should look like in an image,” said Cooperman. “Say you’re having eggs and toast for breakfast. The app will show you the two scrambled eggs you can have, with the piece of toast and the amount of butter or margarine it should contain, what the glass of juice should look like – half filled, three quarters, etc. You can also click on each item to get full information on portion size, calories, nutrition data, etc.”
For those who prefer to go the measurement route, MakeMyPlate offers exact ounce/gram numbers for suggested menu items as well – but most people don’t like that, said Cooperman, citing studies the company has done among its base of tens of thousands of users (the app, which came out last May, has been downloaded over 100,000 times so far). “It’s true that pictures are not as accurate as numbers, but you have to be very motivated to measure each portion for each meal – and the reason most people don’t stick to diets is that they lose their initial motivation.”
“The truth is that nutrition information for meals, even with exact measurements, is an estimate anyway – the true number of calories can vary based on the different brands of ingredients, like different brands of pasta,” said Cooperman. “There is as much as a 150 calorie range up or down for the average meal, even with exact ingredient measurements.”
Given that, there’s no downside in using a picture of a plate as an estimate of what a meal should consist of versus using measurements – and an important upside, with more motivation to keep to the diet. Even more motivating is the social networking community built around the app, where users can share their plates, suggesting substitutes and providing tips to others on the same diet plan, Cooperman added.
Serendipitously, the MakeMyPlate way of doing things has gotten a thumbs up not just from celebrity trainers but from Uncle Sam himself. After decades of using a pyramid to describe how many carbs, proteins, fruits and vegetables, etc. people should be eating, the USDA recently switched to a plate portrayal as well. Cooperman isn’t sure if she or the government came up with the idea first, but “the fact that the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate is the preferred method of promoting nutrition shows just how powerful this idea is. If ChooseMyPlate offers general suggestions on how to eat, we fill that in with specific ideas on what to eat.”