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Weight-Loss Software > Diet Meal Planner

Choosing a Diet Meal Planner

By Terry Dunkle, DietPower Editor-In-Chief*

A diet meal planner is an indispensable tool if you're trying to lose weight. This guide describes the most important features to evaluate in a planner. The tips apply not only to planners you can use on the Web, but to those you install on your computer.

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Diary Approach

A diet meal planner should function as a daily "diary"—logging your foods and exercise, calculating your net calorie intake and comparing this with your calorie budget, and comparing your intake of other nutrients to the ideal for your age, sex, size, and health concerns.

It should also let you log meals on future dates and show you their nutrient makeup, so you can use these as menus.

Food Selection

Avoid any diet meal planner that offers only a few hundred or a couple of thousand foods in its "pantry." The best planners offer at least 20,000 foods—and they also allow you to add more foods by entering data from labels.

Don't trust an online planner that lets ordinary users contribute foods. These are often riddled with errors and duplicates.

Exercise Selection

Besides tallying the calories in your food, a quality diet meal planner will also take into account calories that you burn in exercise, which allow you extra eating. A good counter will let you choose from at least 500 forms of exercise—leisure pursuits, household tasks, sports, and occupational activities.

The planner should also factor for your weight, as well as the speed or intensity of each exercise, since these significantly affect the number of calories you earn.


It's possible to find a diet meal planner with a lot of extra functions. DietPower (advertised on this page), for example, tweaks your calorie budget every day to guarantee reaching your goal weight on your target date. It also recommends favorite foods that are best for your Nutrition QuotientT, a single score that tells how smart an eater you are.

You can find other programs that perform sophisticated services like this; it's just a matter of examining many to find the few that are exceptional.

Company Integrity

Many purveyors of meal planners fail to offer free trials, money-back guarantees, or prompt and courteous phone and email support. Never patronize a company that won't stand behind its product or help a customer after the sale.


*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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Copyright © 1992-2016 by DietPower, Inc., 7 Kilian Drive, Danbury, CT 06811. Phone 800-852-8446. All rights reserved. The name DietPower and the apple and runner symbols are trademarks of DietPower, Inc. Information on this site is meant to increase your awareness of the importance of nutrition to health. It is not meant to substitute for the advice of a health professional.

Last modified August 12, 2010

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