Weight-Loss Software > Diet Counter
Finding the Best Diet Counter
By Terry Dunkle, DietPower Editor-In-Chief*
If you're looking for a diet counter, I urge you to consider these points. They’re based on more than 20 years’ experience testing hundreds of diet counters -- and building several myself.
Size of Food Database
A good diet counter will have at least 20,000 foods in its database. That’s only two-thirds the number in a typical supermarket -- but since most people eat the same few hundred foods repeatedly, 20,000 is adequate as long as your diet counter lets you add new foods by entering nutrition facts from labels.
Handling of Exercise
Make sure your diet counter lets you log exercise to earn extra calories. It should also factor the number of calories you burn according to your current body weight, since a heavier person burns more than a lighter one who performs the same workout.
Besides calories, a quality diet counter will show your intake of other nutrients. Controlling saturated fat and cholesterol, for example, will help you lower your heart risks. Similarly, watching sodium and potassium will help you with blood pressure and stroke risk; calcium, osteoporosis risk; folic acid, birth-defect risk; and selenium and vitamins A, C, and E, cancer risk.
Make certain that your diet counter knows what’s best for you, not just the average person. A truly competent counter will assign you the Recommended Dietary Allowance of each nutrient for your age, sex, size, and reproductive state -- not the Daily Value, which is a one-size-fits-all amount designed only for use on food labels.
Even better, look for a program that lets you edit your daily allowances to the values recommended by your doctor or dietitian.
(One program, DietPower®, also monitors your metabolism to calculate a calorie budget guaranteed to make you reach your goal weight on your target date. It even recommends foods you like that are best for your nutrient balance right now.)
Ease of Use
Your diet counter shouldn’t require more than 10 minutes a day to log your meals. Online tools seldom meet this criterion, because you have to wait for data to be transmitted to and from the Web every time you record a food. A program that resides on your computer’s hard drive is generally a lot faster.
There’s only one way to prove a program’s speed and ease: try it out. If the diet counter that you are evaluating doesn’t offer a free trial, ditch it. You’ll find plenty of quality programs that do.
Similarly, walk away from any diet counter that doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee.
(One diet counter, DietPower®, is totally 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.