Introducing Pinto, the Personalized Nutrition Platform

Nutrition has evolved, but nutrition tools and datasets have not. So we’re fixing it from the ground up. Say hello to Pinto: simple, personalized nutrition designed for the modern world.

tl;dr: We recently launched Pinto, a new platform with a mission to make nutrition simple and personalized (check it out: Web platform and iPhone app). Read more about our mission here. And some press here, here and here.

As a group of designers and dietitians, we’ve long been frustrated with the status quo in nutrition. While modern nutrition is increasingly individualized — with different people having different needs and goals — existing tools and datasets are still one-size-fits-all and treat us as all if we’re the same person with the same needs. Not to mention, most people still find nutrition to be pretty confusing and nutrition tools to be pretty clunky. It’s outdated and the reality is that it’s largely still on the end user to really make sense of what it all means for them.

We think it’s time for a modern approach, and that’s why we built Pinto (iOS app / Web Platform / About).

Pinto is a new kind of nutrition platform on a mission is to make nutrition simple, personalized, and more accessible to the world.

Pinto’s mission is to make nutrition simple, personalized, and more accessible to the world.

What is Pinto? And how does it work?

Pinto’s core approach is to personalize and simplify: rather than show you every possible thing we can about nutrition, we want to focus on the things that are most relevant and meaningful to you. For example:

  • You can customize a profile around your own goals for nutrition (for example: “Flag added sugars, watch sodium and saturated fat intake, and get enough fiber and protein” — the platform will adapt to focus on that info).
  • If you already follow a specific diet or lifestyle, you can subscribe to one of our prebuilt profiles created by our dietitians (including Ketogenic, Vegan, Paleo, Heart Health, Low FODMAP, Diabetes-Friendly, and more).
  • Or if you’re not really sure — and just want to eat healthier or reach a nutrition goal like losing weight — we’ll set you up with some smart defaults to help guide you along the way.
Pinto personalizes nutrition info based on your unique needs.

What can I use Pinto for?

Pinto’s app and website is all about helping you navigate nutrition on your terms.

Analyzing Food (aka “Your Own Personal Food Label”)

We’ve always thought a dream food label would work a bit differently: rather than show everyone the same information, it would adapt to the needs and goals of each individual end user.

So that’s how it works at Pinto: whenever you look up a food (or scan a barcode), we’ll pinpoint the info that matters most to you and your unique needs.

Some examples:

  • Based on your dietary goals, we’ll highlight certain ingredients like added sugars, whole grains, or healthy fats, or specific nutrients like fiber, sodium, protein, or calories.
  • We’ll flag any allergen, intolerance, or ingredients you’re looking to avoid.
  • We’ll highlight diet-specific data points for diets like Keto, Diabetes Management, Heart Health, Kidney Health, Low FODMAP, etc.

It’s all about the right information for the right person, rather than one-size-fits-all-nutrition. Some examples:

Flag specific ingredients like added sugars, and we’ll identify them in your food.

The Keto view is customized for Keto users (highlighting stats like net carbs, fat, fiber, protein, sodium, and cals).

The Heart Health (DASH diet) view is customized for Heart Health users (highlighting datapoints like sodium, sat fat., fiber, whole grains, added sugars, etc.).

Personalized Guidance

In addition to highlighting the most relevant data points, we’ll also provide contextual guidance and analysis on how well any food fits your specific profile. It’s like having your very own traffic light system that’s designed just for you.

Our analysis ranges from:

Blue (the top-rated foods for a given user — these should be maximized in your diet).
Green (foods that are a good fit — and can be diet staples).
Yellow (foods to have in moderation)
Red (foods to minimize or avoid entirely).

For example — using the app — a user managing Diabetes can scan a multigrain bread, which is high in fiber and full of whole grains (which is ideal for blood sugar management and thus a great choice). The product gets a blue (excellent) rating.

That same user could then scan some English muffins, which are low in fiber and high in carbs, and thus can run the risk of spiking blood sugar if too much if consumed in one serving. This product gets a yellow (moderate) rating.

The idea is to get the right information to the right person, rather than one-size-fits-all-nutrition.

An Easier Way to Track Your Diet

When managing an eating plan or dietary goal, the general rule is that — the more you track what you eat — the more likely you are to reach your goals. But tracking has traditionally been tedious and time consuming.

So with Pinto, we’ve worked hard on giving you an easier way to track your diet: on the mobile app, it’s as simple as snapping a picture of your meals (and then we use image recognition to identify what’s in the meal).

Once your food is logged, we’ll help you track the data points that are most relevant to you. For some users that will be calories and macros, but different diets need to track different data points, and Pinto is all about helping you focus on whatever makes sense for your specific goals.

An easier way to track your diet: snap a pic of your meal or search our database of thousands of products.

Find Food that Fits: Personalized Search

Another big pain point in managing nutrition is that there’s so many products out there, and it can be tricky to filter down and find the exact foods that are the best fit for you and your specific needs.

Our goal is to make it easier. Using Pinto’s search, you can explore our database of foods across all sorts of diets, nutritional needs, preferences, allergies, and more. For example:

We believe a major part of the future of food will involve smart data-driven platforms that can help people easily find the foods that best meet their needs and preferences — going from all possible options to the options that are best for them.

Making Nutrition Easier to Understand

Beyond personalizing nutrition data, we also use modern data visualization to help make nutrition easier to understand more generally.

Visualizing Nutrients

One of the ways we do this is by providing nutrition charts that break down nutrients into more intuitive sections: Quick Facts (showing cals + macros), Get Enough (showing nutrients to target), and Avoid Too Much (showing nutrients to reduce & limit). This “grouping” system has long been advocated by dietitians.

By grouping nutrients into more thematic sections, the end consumer can then better understand how to evaluate what they’re seeing (which of these nutrients is good and which ones should I limit?):

We also believe in relaying nutritional concepts via playful data approaches, like how much exercise does it take to burn off a product or meal’s calories (which helps people more intuitively grasp the concept of how calories translate to energy):

Exercise Equivalence for a Frozen Dinner

Finally — while numbers are important — people often find it helpful to see nutritional concepts represented more visually. To do that, we have a number of badges that relay nutritional concepts like High Fiber, Low Sodium, or Nutrient Dense:

Breaking Down Top Ingredient Questions

Ingredients can be super confusing for most people, and part of our mission is to give people clearer information on the top questions they have about ingredients.

Are there Added Sugars?

77% of Americans want to eat less added sugars, but spotting them on an ingredient list can be pretty tricky (they can be listed under hundreds of random names, including ones that most people wouldn’t associate with sugars — like muscovado, sucanat, rice syrup, golden syrup, and hfcs). To solve this, we identify added sugars whenever present in a food and make this info completely open and searchable to consumers.

This includes everything from Coca Cola (High Fructose Corn Syrup) to Siggi’s Yogurt (Cane Sugar) to less obvious “sugar-having” products like Lentil Soup (Organic Cane Sugar) or Chicken Tenders (Evaporated Cane Juice).

Coca Cola (High Fructose Corn Syrup

Are there any allergies or intolerances?

At Pinto, we classify and tag the most common allergens & intolerances in foods, while also relaying the specific troublesome ingredient. For example, for this frozen Hungry Man meal, a user can click on each allergy tag to see the allergenic ingredient.

What does this ingredient mean?

Finally, if you’ve every perused a lengthy ingredient list, you’ve probably noticed a whole bunch of confusing-sounding ingredients like xanthan gum or ascorbic acid (these are generally called “food additives”). For all of these ingredients, our dietitians write clear, objective definitions to help explain why these ingredients would be used in food. For example, for these Chicken Tenders, you can learn about ingredients like Xanthan Gum or Evaporated Cane Juice (which is really just another name for sugar).

How Did We Get the Data to Make This happen?

Solving this problem didn’t happen overnight. When we first set out to build such a personalized approach to nutrition, we quickly learned that the data needed to power such in-depth and contextual nutrition frankly had never existed before.

So — over the last 2 years — we built it from the ground up. We’ve now compiled the world’s most nuanced food dataset: for example, we’ve chronicled every added sugar that exists in foods, every gluten ingredient, every allergy/intolerance, and every other dietary consideration that modern consumers care about. It’s been pain-staking work, but it now allows us to equip modern consumers with more individualized tools and information that’s truly contextual to their needs.

But we’re not done. Our mission is to provide the best nutrition tools and information across the long tail of dietary considerations.

So — if you see anything missing, or want us to add a new dietary profile or data point to the platform… Hit us up! We’re always down to chat and collaborate.

What’s Next? How Can I Help?

We’re working to build the best possible platform to power the future of nutrition. Do you have an idea? Feedback? Want to get involved? Drop us a line.

In the meantime, download the iPhone app or go to the Pinto Web platform, and let us know what you think.