Free Calorie Counter and Exercise Tracking Tool launched by the USDA

screenshot of USDA's SuperTracker website

(Best Syndication News) - There are many free calorie counters available online. However, many of these free online dieting programs often come with tons of advertisements. The USDA launched a new diet-tracking program online at their ChooseMyPlate.gov website. Is it worth a try?

It sure is, but like anything new it make take some time to get used to. This program is called SuperTracker. What is cool about it is how the integration of food lookup and charting works. I have used quite a few nutrition tracking software programs, some paid, some free. So far, I like the SuperTracker.

SuperTracker was fast to search the foods. However, it was not easy to locate something simple like salad dressing, which made it a bit frustrating. I was looking to add French salad dressing, and could not find it. After I searched “oil dressing,” it came up with Italian or Ranch. While searching for salad dressing, a result that came up “Mayonnaise type salad dressing (Miracle Whip).” There was not a perfect match for my salad dressing flavor and there was no place to enter in your own calories from nutrition labels.

Currently the USDA has around 8,000 foods in their database. You can create your own custom combinations of foods. So if you eat the same thing for breakfast everyday you can enter this combination of foods and then save it to your favorite foods. You can save individual foods to your favorites as well.

Next, I was off to the fitness section of SuperTracker. Overall, the navigation of the website is easy to use. They offer a graphical representation to achieve exercise goals. If you do a certain workout video, search for the generic term instead. They have kickboxing, treadmill, walking, yard work, and more. The treadmill option wasn’t as specific on the miles per minutes exercised, it was set to vigorous. Therefore, if you do a lighter walking workout on the treadmill, you might want to add walking instead because there are many different speeds to log. It keeps track of the estimated calories burned too.

Throughout the SuperTracker website, a nutrition counter tracks the amount of vegetable servings, starch servings, protein, and fat servings you have had for the day. They also point out how many of the calories that you have eaten contain empty calories, meaning void of valuable nutrition. They do not keep a running total of carbohydrate intake on the main screen. To get this information you have to run their Nutrition Intake Report. This is a bummer for diabetics that have to monitor the carbohydrates and fiber intake.

The SuperTracker website also has weight loss goals you can set, and the software calculates the amount of calories you should eat each day. I do not know if the calories allowances will work for everyone. Always check in with a medical doctor before starting any diet or exercise routine.

SuperTracker still needs some improvement, but even still, I give the USDA thumbs up for offering this on their website. Logging what you eat works for weight loss, and for keeping the weight off. Every time you have to log in what you are about to eat, you might think twice about what you are eating and therefore lose weight. The software can also be used to maintain weight and to improve nutrition.

The free calorie counter and fitness tracker website is available at choosemyplate.gov. When there click on the SuperTracker links to sign up for free.

By: Marsha Quinn

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