Macronutrient Data Visualization

Going out on a weird tangent today. I’ve been tinkering and experimenting with my diet somewhat lately, especially lunch. Historically I have relied on instant noodles or canned pasta, mostly because it’s cheap and technically still food. I am, however, growing older, as one does, and my overall unkempt diet and lack of activity are beginning to show. My overall goal was to try and push my lunch toward more protein and better fats. While this has been going on for a while, I came across some interesting data visualizations on reddit recently and thought it was interesting. Not because I didn’t know, but because I had never really visualized it this way.

While I could be mistaken, I believe both of these are drawn from USDA nutrition data. I’m not really sure how accurate it is but as a general rule specific ingredients don’t tend to suddenly change their macronutrient balance, so it’s probably at least passable.

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Not my work – Found on this reddit post by u/zzzev

I see a few things here that look weird though. At a glance it almost looks like the “Fast Foods” category is the only one that’s reasonably balanced. As I looked at it, though, I also realized it’s really the only category of prepared meals shown here. Proper meals are made from combinations of these ingredients, which would cause the data point to drift toward the center. The circles there also tend to be large, which indicates a higher calorie count.

Now, I had initially decided on nuts and dried meats as a combination that would work well. It was admittedly inspired by some of these P3 protein pack things at the store, but two tablespoons of seeds and a tablespoon of jerky weren’t gonna work. Unfortunately, when I actually ran the numbers on my first pass it weighed in around 900 calories, which is higher than I wanted. I am still eating a scaled back version of this, but it’s not where I want it yet.

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Also not my work – Reddit Post, u/Greensp4wn – Interactive Version

Beware, this second one has the Carb/Protein corners switched. The two users were making similar visualizations from the same data without realizing it. That they occurred at the same time is a matter of chance.

The interactive version of this is particularly interesting because on the desktop version you can hover over a location to see what a data point is and also has a search function that will display only matching items.

At the very least it’s given me a few ideas on how to include more variety. Not that anyone really cares what I eat for lunch, I just thought these charts interesting and decided to share them. The general broadstrokes version is pretty straightforward with a basic understanding of what to expect from common food types. It’s really the outliers I found most interesting, as well as how it emphasizes, say, different kinds of meat.

Back to my regularly scheduled program. Y’all take care.

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