What’s the best way to calculate calories?

– Jonatan A.


If you are strictly speaking of counting calories consumed, then the gold standard for calorie values is the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. The most current is Release 28 from August 2017. Using this resource, calculating individual foods yourself is laborious. Meet diet analysis software! As long as the program or website you are using has a comprehensive database (over 20,000 foods) and common portions, you should be able to enter a day’s worth of intake in under an hour. The more detailed and specific you are in recording what you ate, the more accurate the report will be. There are several consumer-friendly versions of software used by dietary professionals. My favorite software for purchase is Nutribase Personal Plus or FoodWorks, and online or for free.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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