Gone are the days of manually planning out workouts, tracking foods and meal prepping.

With AI increasingly becoming part of daily life, more fitness and nutrition brands than ever are using the technology to learn large data sets and consumer trends over time to offer personalized programming — think having a trainer or nutritionist in your pocket at all times. 

“This is one of those areas that has massive potential,” said Anna Pione, a partner at McKinsey and coleader of the firm’s global research on the future of wellness. “We’re just scratching the surface in terms of what offerings are really being brought to consumers.” 

This is happening in other categories, too, as McKinsey has called 2023 generative AI’s breakout year, pointing out that since 2017, the use of AI has more than doubled. 

At the same time, consumers are interested in finding products and solutions that are specifically created for their personal needs. McKinsey found that 49 percent of Millenials and 37 percent of Gen Z consumers want products, services or apps that harness data for personalized experiences.

When it comes to overall wellness, nutrition is essential but far from one-size-fits-all. Whether it’s dietary restrictions like gluten intolerance or specific goals like weight loss, individuals are often seeking out a substantial level of personalization — and AI allows for this at a fraction of the cost of a personal chef or nutritionist. 

Ayble, a gut health app founded by Sam Jactel, is employing AI along with customer information and an expansive GI database to help users detect trigger foods. 

Ayble app

“What we’re trying to accelerate and make more personalized and just have a better experience around is this idea of an elimination diet, which is well known in the space as gold standard,” said Jactel. “The challenge with creating a custom diet for someone that has the potential to improve their symptoms is you have to go from the universe of foods to the handful that are yours, and that’s really tough and takes a long time.”

Ayble offers custom diet plans, as the algorithm assesses a wide database of research and data, in an effort to make the process faster and more effective. Over the course of three to four months, a user will be able to identify their trigger foods and severity of symptoms. 

“What that allows us to do is learn from every user to make a better, faster, more effective, more culturally competent, less biased kind of program and experience for the next user,” Jactel told Beauty Inc. 

Ayble is also able to be more specific. Instead of recommending a user not consume any dairy, the algorithm allows the platform to tell a user they can consume a certain amount of dairy or a certain type of dairy before experiencing symptoms. 

Then there are nutrition companies like Ahara and Viome, who are approaching the category using AI combined with genetic testing.

“The first thing we’re doing is using algorithms to help people make the right food choices and the right supplement choices based on key nutrients their body needs,” said Julie Wainwright, founder of Ahara, which provides consumers with personalized nutrition and supplement plans. “We combine that with empirical data from genetic testing, epigenetic testing and biomarker testing, which gives a full suite of information. All of that then at some point becomes data for doing predictive analysis moving forward.” 

Ahara platform.

Ahara platform.

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With research constantly being added and new users joining every day, these platforms’ AI models will continue to evolve and become smarter, both companies stressed.

“Every time that new research comes out we feed that into our AI, so our AI is constantly being updated with the latest research, with every single person who joins us,” said Viome founder and chief executive officer Naveen Jain, noting the brand’s algorithm currently has 52.55 quadrillion data points. It also makes supplement recommendations based on test results. “It’s an ecosystem where everyone benefits from everyone that came before them, and they contribute to everyone who’s going to come after them.” 

For both Ahara and Viome, products are a key part of the business. Ahara has several blends for different needs, including Daily Plus, a multivitamin; and Focus, a brain boosting supplement — pricing to be determined. Viome uses each consumer’s results to create personalized blends of its Precision Probiotics + Prebiotics, $70/month, for gut health, Precision Supplements, $139/month, for essential nutrients, and VRx My·Biotics Oral Lozenges, $69/month, for oral health. 

Viome products.

Viome products.

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“Product plays an important role as our custom medical grade supplements contain clinically validated nutrients that can not be obtained from diet alone, so they truly support our food-first approach to personalized nutrition for slowing aging and optimizing health,” said Ahara cofounder Dr. Melina Jampolis. 

Jain added that without this kind of personalized approach, “it would be nearly impossible or extremely expensive for individuals to identify and address their specific health needs by purchasing supplements online or off the shelf.” 

Within health care, McKinsey claims AI has the power for “improving population-health management, improving operations and strengthening innovation” across six key health care categories including chronic care management, self care/prevention/wellness, triage and diagnosis, diagnostics, clinical decision support, care delivery and chronic care management. 

For those looking for customized workouts, platforms such as Evolve AI have hit the market. It’s an app that uses artificial intelligence to create daily training schedules and nutrition guidelines based on a user’s goals, previous workouts and recoveries. 

Evolve AI platform.
Evolve AI platform.

“The benefit of AI is that you can create a space and a coaching environment rather than a template environment and because it’s a coaching environment, it grows with the person to make sure they make consistent progress,” said Evolve AI founder Garrett Blevins. “It alters their programming so that they can continue to make progress when they stall out or the things that used to work for them are no longer working for them, so not only is it a unique program, but it’s also a program that is dynamic and can change.” 

This model of an ever-evolving workout offers consumers what they might receive from a personal trainer without the fees.

And for those looking for a piece of workout equipment that employs AI, there’s the Carol Bike, $2,595, which has collected tens of thousands of users and hundreds of thousands of rides, according to the brand.

The bike uses AI to detect the user’s body composition and fitness levels to customize a new ride every time. It’s based on reduced-exertion high-intensity training featuring short all-out sprints and recoveries. Several research centers, including Ace Fitness, have tested the concept and shown it can be as effective as a 45-minute workout.

Carol Bike
Carol Bike

“Each workout is personalized and fully adjusted to you and that means that we can basically cater for the needs of a very broad range of users,” said Carol Bike CEO and cofounder Ulrich Dempfle. 

And while wearable brands, like Oura and Whoop, both declined to discuss artificial intelligence for this story, experts see strong potential for wearables in this space. 

For fitness and nutrition brands already harnessing AI, partnering with wearable companies will allow them to remove some of the pain points consumers experience in this category, such as constantly tracking, by collecting data passively, according to Pione.

“Desire to learn about yourself and continually optimize is what’s already appealing to a lot of people,” she said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for fitness and nutrition AI offerings to be interfacing with wearables.” 

Within the wearable category, continuous glucose monitors have gained traction with 34.8 million views on TikTok.

January AI

January AI

Courtesy

January AI is one such company harnessing the technology and combining it with AI for a more efficient process. Over the course of four or five days, a January AI user will track their food and wear both a continuous glucose monitor and a heart rate monitor, like an Oura Ring or Fitbit. Based on this data, January AI can make recommendations around sleep, nutrition and movement in terms of glucose levels. For example, one might be recommended to not eat too much of a certain food as it may spike their blood sugar, to walk after a meal to promote steady levels or to eat three hours before bedtime for quality sleep. 

“January’s generative AI predicts the next glucose level,” said January founder and CEO Noosheen Hashemi. “The big deal with January is you don’t have to wear that continuous glucose monitor again… You can just see the reaction before it happens.” 

A user can choose to look up certain foods at any time and the AI will predict how their glucose levels will be impacted. 

But while experts and brands alike believe AI plays a key role across categories, especially fitness and nutrition, they also agree a human will always be necessary and certain precautions should be taken to ensure the user always has control. For example, Ayble ensures the user always makes the decision based on the AI’s recommendations. 

“We present the data to the person. We say you have these options. Now it’s up to you to make the decision,” Jactel said. “The algorithms and machine learning helps that individual be an educated consumer and an educated shared decision-maker in their program.”

Furthermore, having human expertise backing the technology is essential. 

“The key in general for anyone using AI in the health space is it needs human oversight. It really needs doctor oversight,” said Wainwright. “Artificial intelligence and machine learning can’t exist without human intervention.” 

Key Takeaways: 

  1. Consumers want personalized fitness and nutrition programming. AI makes this possible. 
  2. AI can make processes like elimination diets more seamless. 
  3. Experts say these programs will always require human expertise.
  4. There is strength in numbers. Over time, customer data and new studies continue to make brand algorithms more effective. 
  5. Inputting information is a pain point for consumers, reflecting the opportunity for wearables to passively track data. 



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