Weight-Loss Software > Calorie Count List
Finding the Best Calorie Count List
By Terry Dunkle, DietPower Editor-In-Chief*
If you're trying to lose weight, a calorie count list is one of your most valuable tools. Two types are available: lists that you can search directly on the Web ("Web-based") and those that you can download from the Web and install on your own computer ("computer-based"). Here are five things to watch when choosing one:
Number of Foods
Don't bother with a list that offers fewer than 20,000 foods. That may sound like a lot, but the average supermarket contains 30,000. Make sure, too, that you can add your own foods to the list by entering nutrition facts from the labels.
Accuracy of Data
Steer clear of any calorie count list that allows users to contribute foods for public use. User contributions are notoriously inaccurate.
Ask how often the data are updated. Some lists are large, but many years old.
If the calorie count list offers to calculate a calorie budget for you, compare the results with those you get from DietPower's calorie budget calculator. The two should differ by less than 100 calories.
Some Web-based lists take five or ten seconds to find a food. That seems interminable if you're looking up a lot of foods. A computer-based calorie count list will usually find a food in less than one second.
Instead of looking up calories and tallying them by hand, choose a list that tallies for you. And while you're at it, choose one that also calculates a calorie budget designed to take you to your goal weight on your target date. Some (including DietPower, advertised on this page) even adjust the budget to your metabolism to guarantee reaching your goal on schedule. Some also award extra calories for exercise, monitor dozens of nutrients besides calories, watch your water intake, and do a lot more besides.
Although it's easy to find a free calorie count list online, its limited speed and functions may convince you to buy a computer-based program instead. Most cost between $20 and $40. Some offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. (DietPower is not only computer-based and lightning-fast, but free.)
*Terry Dunkle is a 30-year veteran medical journalist and consumer advocate who serves as CEO and chief editor at DietPower, Inc., a leading maker of nutrition and weight-loss software.