Weight-Loss Software > Calorie Count of Foods
Calorie Count of Foods: Best Sources
By Terry Dunkle, DietPower Editor-In-Chief*
To get the calorie count of foods, you can choose from hundreds of websites and dozens of software programs. My company has offered both sources for many years. I'm not here to blow my own horn, though. Instead, I want to describe five features that separate good calorie counters from bad.
Nothing is more frustrating than trying to look up a calorie count in a source that covers only a few thousand foods. Choose one that covers at least 20,000. (This is actually 10,000 fewer than you'll find in a modern supermarket.)
Beware of online calorie counters that allow users to contribute foods by keying in nutrition facts from labels. User-contributed databases are notoriously inaccurate—they put you at the mercy of everyone else's typographic errors. They may also force you to scroll through hundreds of duplicates to find the food you want. (A few online calorie counters carefully check for dupes and errors. Ask.)
Finding the calorie count of foods shouldn't require you to "drill down" through food categories or worry about spelling. A calorie counter should be able to pounce on any food in less than two seconds, even you misspell it or enter an alternative name ("wiener" or "weiner" instead of "hot dog" or "frankfurter," for example). Similarly, you should be able to choose any serving size—volume or weight, metric of English—without jumping through hoops.
Besides revealing calories, a good website or software will show dozens of other nutrients in the foods—fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, calcium, folic acid, antioxidants, and more. The best tools also calculate the number of calories you've burned in exercise, which allow you extra eating.
In rare instances (DietPower is one of them), tools that look up the calorie count of foods also monitor your personal calorie needs and give you a calorie budget guaranteed to bring you to a goal weight on a target date. In DietPower's case, the program also reveals which of your favorite foods will most improve your nutrient balance. We know of no other program that does this in real-time, but will post any to which we are alerted.
*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.