A couple of years ago, I got a great idea for a diet app: a simple interface that would allow users to track the number of servings of healthy foods they ate every day. I asked my brother (who has a computery job) if he was interested in developing it for me (for free). Because he’s a great brother, and he thought it was a good idea, he got started on it right away. As it turned out though, he was kind of busy working at his real job (which actually pays him), raising his family, and training for marathons. And, since my own technical expertise is what you might expect from someone who uses a term like “computery” the app never got built.

I had never envisioned making it rich with the app, I just wanted something simple that my clients could use to improve the quality of their diet. As I wrote in my weight loss book, Reboot Your Body, counting calories is very effective for weight loss, but it’s so time consuming that people don’t keep it up over the long term. I was looking for something quick and easy to use, but still effective.

It’s not surprising that the person responsible for creating such an app is my health hero, Dr. Michael Greger. I wrote about him a few weeks ago in my post, The Most Important Book I’ve Ever Read.  His nonprofit website, NutritionFacts.org is my go-to source whenever I have a question about nutrition, and the app his team developed is exactly the answer I was looking for: it’s a simple, powerful tool not only for losing weight, but for optimizing nutrition as well.

FoodCategories

Available for Apple and Android devices alike, Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen provides a simple check-box interface where users can track how many servings they consume across 12 healthy categories. The categories are: beans, berries, other fruit, cruciferous vegetables, greens, other vegetables, flaxseeds, nuts, spices, whole grains, beverages and exercise. The target number of servings is different for each category, depending on optimal daily levels. To check off a serving, the user simply taps that row and is then taken to a page describing the foods that fall into that category. If what you’re eating fits the description, you hit the plus button to add the number of servings you’re consuming. The description also helpfully defines what constitutes a serving size.

Number of Servings

The tool is naturally designed for weight loss. Depending on the specific fruits, vegetables and whole grains eaten, a person who hits 100% by eating the recommended number of servings in each category will consume somewhere between 1550 and 2000 calories. However, because one of those categories is Exercise, by getting the recommended 40 minutes of vigorous activity or 90 minutes of moderate activity, you’ll burn off between 200-500 of those calories (depending on the activity and duration of the exercise you do). That puts you right in the sweet spot for weight loss, averaging 1,300-1,800 net calories per day. The beauty of this app, though, is that you won’t need to track a single calorie.

For guaranteed weight loss, you simply need to get all of the recommended servings, including water and exercise, before you eat or drink anything else. It’s also important that you pay attention to how those servings are prepared. Breading and frying are out, of course, and you should consider experimenting with oil-free sautéing as well – using a little water or vegetable broth will work in almost every case.

Not everyone wants to lose weight. For active individuals looking to boost performance, it’s easy to bump up the calorie count by adding a serving of nuts or seeds, or dressing vegetables with some good-quality flax, avocado, walnut or olive oil. And of course, there’s always room in every diet for more whole, fresh fruits and vegetables.

I’ve been using Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen app for over a month now, and I’m feeling better than I have in years. If you give the app a try, I’d love to hear what you think about it. Let me know on the Full Steam Fitness Facebook page.