Weight-Loss Software > Exercise Food Journal
Exercise Food Journal—Which Is Best?
By Terry Dunkle, DietPower Editor-In-Chief*
Using an exercise food journal is a smart thing to do if you're trying to lose weight or improve your athletic conditioning. Decades of scientific study have shown that people who keep records of their meals and physical activity are more successful in their health quests.
Obviously, if you're going to spend the time required to use an exercise food journal, it pays to get the best journal you can afford. Some are remarkably quick and versatile; others are so tedious and limited that, like a bad exercise machine, they are quickly abandoned.
The advice below applies to exercise food journals that are either installed on your computer or used online. Here's what to look for when shopping for such a journal.
Lots of Exercises
The best exercise food journals cover at least 500 different physical activities—not only sports and traditional exercises (calisthenics, pushups, pull-ups, etc.), but also leisure and hobby activities, as well as occupations.
Lots of Foods
Ignore any journal that covers fewer than 20,000 foods—and make sure the journal lets you add new foods by entering nutrition facts from their labels. Besides basic foods, the selection should include ethnic and fast foods.
Lots of Nutrients
If your exercise food journal monitors calories only, you're missing an opportunity to gain deeper insight into your nutrition by watching other nutrients such as fat, protein, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins, antioxidants such as selenium, and more. Many journals cover two or three dozen nutrients important in lowering your risk of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, stroke, cancer, and other maladies.
Logging your meals and exercise should take you no more than five to ten minutes a day. To make sure it meets this criterion, take a test drive before buying. If the program doesn't offer a free trial, try another brand.
Most journals give you a calorie budget that assumes you have average metabolism, even though yours may depart from the norm by as much as 30 percent. Most also assume that everyone performing an exercise has the same body weight. For that reason, they won't correctly calculate the number of calories you burn in an exercise if you weigh more or less than average.
Look for an exercise food journal that not only factors your calorie burn for your body weight, but also monitors your personal metabolic rate by comparing your eating history with your weight change. These are rare, but well worth looking for. (One is DietPower®, advertised on this page.)
*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.