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Weight-Loss Software > Calorie Counter Weight

Calorie Counter Weight Loss Tools: Finding the Best

By Terry Dunkle, DietPower Editor-In-Chief*

Calorie counter weight loss tools should be the first choice of any serious dieter, because the only way to lose weight is by controlling your calorie intake (food) and calorie expenditures (exercise). This isn't someone's opinion, but a law of physics that has been confirmed by decades of research.

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If you poke around on the Web, you'll find hundreds of calorie counter weight loss tools. Most of them work by letting you log the foods you eat and exercise you perform, while keeping track of your net calorie intake and comparing it with a calorie budget designed to take you to your goal weight on your target date. Here's how to judge which tool is right for you:

Size of Food Database

Look for a calorie counter weight loss tool with at least 20,000 foods in its database. (That's not as many as you might think. The average supermarket has 30,000.) And see whether it lets you add your own foods to the database by entering facts from the labels. If you eat a lot of fast foods or ethnic foods, make sure those are represented or easily added.

Size of Exercise Database

A good exercise database will offer at least 500 physical activities. These should include not only sports, but occupations and leisure activities. You should also be able to record speed and intensity, which of course affect the number of calories that you burn.

Accuracy of Calorie Budget

The best calorie counter weight loss tools base your calorie budget on your own personal metabolism, not the average person's, which may be up to 30 percent higher or lower than yours. In rare cases (DietPower®, for example), the tool will monitor your actual needs by comparing your weight change with your calorie history. These can literally guarantee reaching your goal weight on your target date if you stick to your budget.

Monitoring of Other Nutrients

Don't buy a calorie counter weight loss tool that watches only your calories. For the same investment in time (typically five to ten minutes a day), you can also monitor nutrients such as sodium, calcium, cholesterol, fat, protein, carbohydrates, and dozens of others. Balancing these is especially important when you're dieting, because reducing your calorie intake will otherwise make you vulnerable to deficiencies in certain nutrients.

Ease of Use

Don't buy a calorie counter weight loss tool without taking it for a test drive. If you find the free trial difficult to understand or use, don't assume it will become easier with time. It may—but with a little further searching you should be able to find a program that seems easy as pie on your first use.


*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.

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Last modified August 12, 2010

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