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Top 10 List for 2006: Free Software

Improve Your Life with Free Downloads

By Charlie White
There's a lot of extremely useful software available for free on the web, and we're here to help you sort out which ones can help you the most. So here it is, our latest Top 10 List of software that's freely available on the Web…

[Editor's note: DietPower was the only health software on the list.]

…4. DietPower

This is a 15-day free trial of DietPower software, the application that lets you count calories with tremendous precision. When you first start out, set your diet goal, and then it will adjust the amount of calories you're allowed to eat each day in order to meet that goal. You enter your weight into it every morning, and then it calculates what your metabolism is for that day. It knows when your metabolism has slowed down or sped up according to how much you weigh and how many calories you've entered into the program, and I'm here to tell you, it works beautifully. I've been using it for a few years now, and it's been very successful in helping me count calories.

You can also enter a huge variety of exercises, and it shows you how many calories you burn there, too, figuring in your weight and the amount of time you spent with each exercise. Then it gives you credit for those exercises, letting you eat more. You can also enter in factors such as your body fat percentage and your Body Mass Index, and it can show you graphs including those data as well.

This is a great tool for losing weight, It is an excellent motivator, too, showing you graphs of your progress. Beyond that, it also tells you how good (or bad) your nutrition is, counting every nutrient you consumed, and comparing that against recommended daily requirements of each one of those nutrients. The program gives you a daily nutrition score reflecting not only how much fat, protein and carbohydrate you've eaten, but how much of all the other nutrients you've eaten, too. Overall, this is the best way to lose weight I've ever seen.
(May 22, 2006)


Digital Dieting: Click and Points

By Amy Douglas
Standing at an average 5' 5" and pushing age 30, I thought it was time for me to find out what type of health I was really in. This began with stepping on a scale—and not the one in my bathroom, which tends to shed approximately three pounds off one's weight if moved to the correct spot on the floor. I consulted the scale at my gym, and I realized I don't frequent it nearly enough.

One hundred forty-two pounds. How did that happen?

According to most health journals, this is 13 pounds heavier than what is deemed healthy for someone of my size and age. I had a little more work to do than first thought.

Weight Watchers Winning Points

I looked into a few programs that I'd heard others talking about, the best known being the Weight Watchers Winning Points ($14.95 per month)... Essentially, this plan lets you eat the types of foods you want each day, as long as you stay within your daily points range. But in my particular category of less than 150 pounds, I was allowed only 18 to 25 daily points. I was destined to fail due to my ritual tall mocha (four points) and bowl of Total Raisin Bran with non-fat soy milk (four points). I was already down eight points for the morning! How would I make it through the rest of the day with a wee 10 to 17 points left? Clearly I wouldn't, so I celebrated my point system failure with a bagel!

I tried the points plan on-and-off for months. I was often hungry, always tempted, and continually felt guilty for having gone over my daily allowance and occasionally gaining more weight. This plan didn't work well for me.


"Lose Your Belly by October 22," reads the eDiets banner ad that pops into view on my desktop at least ten times a day. I finally caved and filled out the entry fields for my height, weight, and gender…They had a special going: a nine-week membership for just $35.00. It included a customized diet and meal plan each week, complete with grocery shopping lists. [Editor's note: This plan normally costs $3.99 a week, or $208 a year.]…There are no meetings to attend, as in the Weight Watchers program, but you can get support from fellow dieters via online communities and bulletin boards….

Rated "Best of the Web" by in the Diet & Nutrition category, eDiets has plenty of positives going for it. Despite all of its benefits, however, eDiets still wasn't what I was looking for.


Unsuccessful with points and still hesitant to spend money on a regular Web plan, I did a little more research and discovered DietPower—one of the few programs that actually allows users a 15-day free trial.

Furthermore, it's just software. No meetings to attend and no restrictive meal plans to follow. If you like it, you simply purchase it after 15 days ($39.99 to download, or $49.99 for the CD-ROM) and never have to worry about getting stuck with monthly fees or, God forbid, trying to cancel under those typical fine-print requirements. Lord knows I've been on Columbia House's mailing list long enough to know better than to sign up for something I may someday regret.

I decided that I was going to drop some pounds on this thing, and if it worked, I'd also drop a little cash on purchasing the software to keep using it after my trial offer.

DietPower is a weight- and nutrition-management system that combines the general principles of any weight-loss program with the necessary math and science to make it work. Its Food Log tracks each calorie you ingest; its Exercise Log, every calorie you burn. The food list is detailed beyond one's wildest imagination, and has nearly everything from arugula to zucchini—and if it doesn't exist, you simply add it to the Food Dictionary yourself. Even if you're a fast-food junkie, there's Burger King to Wendy's, and Blimpie to Subway.

With that in mind, there are no food restrictions: You're wholly responsible for all of your food choices. Meaning, if I wish to eat my daily allotment of 1389 calories in corn dogs and cookies, I can. And because I can, I won't. Temptation is no longer an issue.

The Exercise Log is as thorough as the intake monitor. DietPower's activity list provides information for even the laziest of days. Even vacuuming and light housework count (although you're supposed to log only "concerted workouts," not every little thing you do). The combination of DietPower's food and exercise logs help you understand exactly what you have to do to be successful. It's simple algebra: If your goal is x, you must do y. For those, like myself, that don't like math, don't worry. You simply log the foods you've eaten and the exercises you've done—it totals everything up for you.

Unlike most other diet programs, DietPower also monitors your nutrient intake. After just one day of using the free trial, I discovered that I was a sucker for sodium and that I was not getting nearly enough protein. I was shocked to view the areas in which I was overdoing it, and the areas where I was lacking in nutrition. My diet consisted of 63 percent in carbohydrates, 27 percent fat, and only 10 percent protein; equivalent to 835 calories from carbs, 364 from fat, and a wee 135 calories from protein. DietPower's charts and graphs were an excellent source for this information.

While nothing fancy, these elements made it simple to track my progress and alter the areas that needed changing. The pie charts and bar graphs helped me balance my diet, and by day eight, I'd decreased both my carb and fat intake to a healthier 41 percent, and increased my protein to 19 percent. The most appealing chart however, was the thin red line of my weight loss, creeping steadily downhill towards my ultimate goal.

By the end of my 15-day trial, I'd lost 3.2 pounds. And DietPower never scolded me or told me how "good" or "bad" I'd been. It was there to help me realize what I was putting into my body, and what I'd have to do to get rid of it in a healthy way….

In this new technological age, the all-too-common excuse of having no time to diet is no longer acceptable. It couldn't get any easier. Weight loss is literally at our fingertips—it's only compromised by what we put at the end of our forks.
(November 2002)


DietPower Rating: ZDNet | 5 Stars

DietPower turns your computer into a "personal trainer" that helps you lose weight and get in shape. Fill in the wizard blanks with your current and desired weight, along with a target date. Then check the diet plan to see your weekly loss, daily caloric intake, and a description of the ease or difficulty of achieving your goals. Each morning as you record your weight, the program designs a calorie budget for you. Throughout the day, as you log meals and exercise, DietPower keeps track of 33 important nutrients. It's easy to build your daily menu with auto-completion to help you search the extensive foods database and quickly adjust the portion size. A running tally displays how many calories are left in your diet budget. There's a log of your calorie-burning activities too, so your diet plan remains healthy. If you stay within your budget and faithfully record your meals, you'll reach your desired weight on your target date. Clear, detailed documentation explains the program and offers diet, exercise, and nutrition information.
(February 24. 2000)

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