Weight-Loss Software > Diet Nutrition Software
Diet Nutrition Software: Which Is Best?
By Terry Dunkle, DietPower Editor-In-Chief*
Using diet nutrition software requires a commitment to logging your foods and exercise every day, or at least nearly every day. If you don't choose a program that is quick and easy, you won't stick with it. And if it doesn't give you a lot of helpful information, you won't stick with it, either.
With these points in mind, let's look at the five most important attributes of a great nutrition program.
Choose diet nutrition software that covers at least 20,000 foods (the number in a modest supermarket these days) and at least 12 nutrients (the number on a standard food label).
If you're looking at online programs, avoid any that let users contribute foods to the database by entering facts from their labels—these are usually loaded with errors and needless duplicates. Ask how recently and how often the database is updated.
The exercise database should comprise at least 500 activities, ranging from sports and leisure activities to household and occupational tasks.
Good diet nutrition software "thinks" the way you do. You're trying to reach a goal weight on a target date. You want to know how many calories you can eat today and stay on target. How many calories are left in your budget right now? Which food will be most satisfying with the least calorie expenditure? And so on.
This basically calls for a diary approach, with a daily budget and a "bank" where uneaten calories are deposited at the end of the day so they can be eaten tomorrow.
It also demands a food and exercise search function that doesn't require you to "drill down" through categories to find what you want to log, but lets you search by their names—and doesn't mind when you misspell them, either.
Avoid any diet nutrition software that requires more than five to ten minutes a day to use. Test it first—and if the company won't give you a free trial, rule it out. Plenty of competitors will be happy to let you test-drive their products for free.
If you look hard enough, you might find diet nutrition software that learns you likes and dislikes, automatically adjusts your calorie budget to keep you tracking smoothly toward your goal, and even recommends foods you like that are best for your nutrition now. One of these is DietPower (advertised on this page). We know of no others, but if you discover one, please let us know.
Don't buy diet nutrition software without carefully checking the company's support policy. Unfortunately, many companies make it hard to get a human on the phone or even by email when you have a question—they have a "take your money and run" attitude. In our experience, this attitude is common in the nutrition software industry. Caveat emptor.
*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.