Today's Ask WP Tasty question has to do with nutrition facts. Multiple customers have reached out to ask if our Tasty Recipes plugin for WordPress automatically calculates nutrition facts, so we're going to clear it up for you right here, right now!
When we looked into including the ability to calculate nutrition for Tasty Recipes, we found it was near impossible to automatically calculate the information accurately (keyword here being accurately!).
The thing about having the nutrition information automatically calculated is that you can't be sure of where those calculations are coming from. Macronutrients vary across different brands, so the brand or food that you're using might differ from the one stored in the plugin's database. Hence, we did not include an automatic nutrition calculator in the plugin.
Although Tasty Recipes doesn't include this function, we do have an integration with Nutrifox, which makes it really easy to accurately calculate that information for your recipes.
So how do we know that automatic calculators can be inaccurate? Let's take a look.
Testing various nutrition calculators 📝
To get a sense of how different nutrition calculations can be, we tested Yumprint and MyFitnessPal to see what the results were like. Because we also care about ease of use, we also timed the calculations to see how quickly we could come up with an accurate result. For these tests, we use the Thai Yellow Chicken Curry with Potatoes recipe from Pinch of Yum.
Below, you'll find the nutrition labels generated by Yumprint (a recipe plugin that calculates nutrition automatically), MyFitnessPal (a calorie counter app), and Nutrifox.
Yumprint nutrition calculations
Time to create: automatic
Total Fat: 16g
Total Carbohydrates: 111g
MyFitnessPal nutrition calculation
Time to create: 5 minutes
Total Fat: 20.3g
Total Carbohydrates: 58.8
Nutrifox nutrition calculation
Time to create: 1 minute
Total Fat: 5.2g
Total Carbohydrates: 27.8g
You'll notice that between the three labels, there are some pretty big differences when it comes to the calories and macronutrients. Here's a table summarizing some of the results:
|Time to create (mins)||0||5||1|
Those differences are huge! There's a 387 calorie difference between Yumprint and Nutrifox, and a difference of 21g of carbohydrates between MyFitnessPal and Nutrifox.
So why does this happen?
Automatic calculators like Yumprint send your data over to an API, which tries to match the ingredients you entered to ingredients in their database. The first match is the one that gets used. This is the same way that Nutrifox works – except that Nutrifox gives you visibility into what's being used and the ability to super easily change the ingredients if necessary.
In addition, Nutrifox is using complex language processing tools and machine learning to get better at matching ingredients over time. Every time Nutrifox gets used, it gets smarter. Pretty nifty!
MyFitnessPal, on the other hand, requires you to create the entire label manually. You search for each ingredient, then pick one of the potentially hundreds of options. It's overwhelming and exhausting, in my experience (I used to use MyFitnessPal to track daily consumption – it was a pain!). Many simple ingredients have multiple entries, which can create confusion in deciding which one to choose. So, you pick a random one without knowing for sure if it's accurate.
Nutrifox, on the other hand, strikes a nice balance between these two processes. It calculates the nutrition information automatically, but allows you to search the database if something doesn't get matched correctly. The database only contains nutrition information that comes right from the USDA, or that you add to your personal food bank, so you know that the information you're getting is accurate.
What's the personal food bank, then? If you don't see the ingredient you need in the database, no problem! You can add it to the database yourself, ensuring that the nutrition information you're putting in is accurate.
These custom foods only show up for your nutrition labels, so you don't have to worry about ingredients from other people polluting your searches.
But wait! There's more! In addition to the custom food bank, Nutrifox also includes a few different label styles for you to choose from, so you can use the one that fits your site best.
Lastly, you can also easily import recipes that have already been published – just make sure to tweak the number of servings as you see fit and your label will be good to go!
Is there another option?
Of course, if you'd prefer to use another method to calculate nutrition information, then Tasty Recipes has fields where you can add that data as well.
Tasty Recipes may not calculate your nutrition information for you, but the integration with Nutrifox is super handy and ensures that your readers are getting accurate nutrition labels! Other methods can return incorrect nutrition data, or can be a pain to use, but Nutrifox strikes a nice balance.
Pro tip: Annual Food Blogger Pro members get Nutrifox for free! And if you're on the fence about using Nutrifox, there's a 7-day free trial so you can test it out and see if it's a good fit for your site. 😀