So Just a week ago my company started a “Biggest Loser” competition. Not realizing it was a weight thing, I entered figuring I was a shoe-in for first prize…But when I they pulled out the scale for a weigh in, it all came sharply into focus. A day later I jumped (jumping rope, 12 calories per minute) at the chance to review Calorie King’s Nutrition and Exercise Manager.
In my experience, when the name is such a mouthful (I haven’t had a mouth full of anything in a week!) the program generally isn’t clear, concise, and well thought out. In the case of the Nutrition and Exercise Manager I couldn’t have been more incorrect. These are just my initial thoughts on this application, which I’ll follow-up with a more thorough review after I’ve used it for a few weeks.
When you start the program up initially (from here on out known as NEM because I’m not typing that name every time), it runs you through a profile setup to determine you Body Mass Index based on your age, sex, height, and weight. The results are obviously generalizations, as it can only average the information you’re giving it and it doesn’t know specifics about you. For example, I’m 5’11” and around 205lbs. This translates to a BMI of 28 which says I’m at a medium health risk. What is doesn’t know is that while I do have some extra pounds to shed, a good deal of that weight is muscle (which weighs more than fat). It’s table-based generalizations suggest that to get to a healthy BMI of 20, I need to lose 60 pounds. While I hope to lose some weight, at 5’11” I don’t think I’d be all that healthy at a mere 140lbs – plus I’d get killed on the hockey rink!
Generalizations aside, it’s still a good starting point. From there you tell it what your goal is: Maintain weight, lose weight, or gain weight. Checking the ‘Lose weight’ option it then creates a good set of guidelines to set your new diet against. It designates total calories per day, and within that load of calories, how much fat, protein, carbs, and so on you should consume on a daily basis. If you know more than the program does, you can optionally tweak your diet program too. So now there’s a plan to follow, let’s start using the program!
It took me only a minute or two to feel comfortable in NEM’s interface. The left side is a diary (or ‘food log’ if you have issues with keeping a diary) of your daily meals (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, evening snack) and any exercise you get in. The right side provides access to Calorie King’s massive (seriously massive) database of foods and exercises that you may add to your daily diary entry. The amazing part about this database is the extent of the foods and information that it covers. From things as general as a banana, to a Stouffer’s lasagna, to a Double Double with Cheese from In-N-Out Burger, it’s there. And not only is it in there, but the stats are there too – fat, protein, carbs, sugars, sodium, cholesterol, fiber, and on and on – all configurable by the portion you consume.
For me, the database is the best part of the whole thing. I hate the idea of diets because how am I supposed to be accountable for knowing all the calories, good fats, bad fats, cholesterol and more that I’m eating every day?! I know it’s possible, but it’s not my style. But with Calorie King’s database available through NEM, I don’t have to know those details, I can just drag the ‘turkey sandwich with light mayo’ to my daily diary entry for lunch, and the calorie stats are automatically added for me. Being able to see how much of my daily allowance of calories (and other things) I’ve consumed and where I stand going into dinner and all that, seems to be making all the difference for me and my diet.
The database also includes just about any exercise you can think of. Drag and drop it to your diary and adjust the time that you spent sweating, and it totals that for you on your daily diary as well. If you have some personal recipe or funky exercise that’s not included in the database (I’ve only found one exercise missing), you can add it yourself. Of course you’ll want to know the details on the nutrition information for whatever it is you’re adding. You can mark items as favorite too, so they’re easier to find in a custom list next time. But the spotlight-like search seems to work awfully well for me.
Alright, so this isn’t the short first impression I thought it would be. But I haven’t even delved into the Check-ins or reporting capabilities of the program yet. Once I amass a couple week’s worth of data points, I’ll revisit those things especially, as well as the progress I’m making by keeping myself in check with the Nutrition and Exercise Manager.
At this point, I highly recommend going to CalorieKing.com and getting the 7 day free trial. It’s $45 for a license, but supports up to 5 profiles so you and your whole family (assuming there’s no more than 5 of you) can track your progress individually. The website is full of useful information, great healthy recipes, and informative tools as well, so take some time to look around there.
If you’re trying to lose some weight, or even just want to get in better shape, this program is a great step in the right direction. With a free trial, why not see if it works for you?