Your calorie budget is the number of calories required each day to bring you exactly one day closer to your goal weight.* The budget depends on two things: 1) how fast you're trying to gain or lose weight and 2) your metabolic rate, which in turn depends on your age, sex, size, physical activities, genetic and other factors. Your metabolic rate may also fluctuate over time.
To keep account of fluctuations, Diet Power recalculates your calorie budget every time you log your weight. It does this by comparing your recent weight changes with the foods and exercise you've logged. Then it adjusts your day's budget to keep you moving smoothly toward your target. The adjustment is usually only a few calories.
This won't be true if you chose a constant calorie budget when setting up your diet, because that won't allow automatic adjustment to keep you on track. See Goals, Setting Your Weight.
The Rewards of Truth: Calorie Feedback™
Because these adjustments depend directly on the calories you eat and weights you log, as long as you faithfully record your activities and stay within your budget, you should reach your goal weight within a few days of your target date.
This will happen even if there's a systematic error in your logging habits. If, for example, you habitually underestimate your food portions by 10 percent, Diet Power will automatically cancel the error by cutting 10 percent from your calorie budget.
It doesn't pay to lie to Diet Power, then. In fact, the more eating you report, the more calories Diet Power will prescribe.
Similarly, if you skip a day and record no foods, Diet Power will estimate your calorie intake from your weight change. It will also assume that you burned the same number of calories in exercise as your average for the preceding 30 days. (If you haven't been using Diet Power that long, the program will use "phantom data" for the days before you enrolled, based on a typical person of your age, sex, and size.)
If these assumptions are wrong, the error they have introduced will show up in the body weights you record over the next few days, and this will cause Diet Power to bump your calorie budgets up or down—eventually canceling the error.
This "can't fail" system, called "Calorie Feedback™," makes Diet Power unusually effective. No other weight-loss software offers the feature.
If you try to enter a weight that causes your calorie budget to fall below 1200 calories per day, Diet Power will warn that this may have you eating too little for adequate nutrition. You can ignore the warning (by clicking OK and going about your business), but Diet Power urges you to design a safer diet instead. (Obviously, eating fewer than 1200 calories per day is more likely to be hazardous if you're a big person with a high metabolic rate than if you're a small person with a low metabolic rate. Ask your doctor for advice.)
To view your calorie budget:
For today (or whatever working date you're in): look at the Calorie Tally in your Food Log or Exercise Log. The budget also appears at the bottom of your Body History and at the top of your Calorie Bank.
For any other day: open your Diet History and scroll to the date you want. Your calorie budget is in the fourth column.
If your calorie budget is dropping, it means:
You're not recording all of your foods or you're underestimating your portions. Solutions: 1) resolve to eat nothing without logging it first, and 2) begin using a food scale.
You're losing weight too slowly and the program is trying to speed up your loss. (If you're nearing your target date and still far from your goal, your budget may shrink absurdly as the program tries to bring you in on schedule.) Solutions: 1) violate your budget less often, 2) combine Diet Power with another weight-loss program, or 3) start a new diet with easier goals.
You're exercising more, which replaces fat with muscle and tends to make you heavier. (Muscle is denser than fat). Since you told Diet Power you wanted to lose weight, the program naturally responds by budgeting fewer calories. Solutions: 1) start a new diet with a higher goal weight than before; and 2) pay more attention to your waist, hip, and other measurements than to your weight. (You can graph these on your Home Screen—just set them up as custom variables in your Body Log.)
You're recording too many light activities in your Exercise Log. Routine chores, such as taking out the trash or making beds, are listed only for reference. (That's why they're rendered in gray.) They should be left unlogged as part of your "background" metabolism.
In some cases, the problem may be all or several of the above.
If your calorie budget is rising, it means:
Your metabolic rate is rising or is higher than Diet Power guessed.
You're overestimating your portions.
You're losing weight too fast and the program is trying to slow your loss.
You're forgetting to log your exercise. Any activity that requires serious exertion for more than a few minutes should go into your Exercise Log.
(Again, in some cases the problem may be more than one of the above.)
If your budget has reached an unrealistic level...
...you may be tempted to start over by enrolling as a different user. This is not the best solution, however. Instead, open the Goal Setter and design a new diet with "Assume I'm a new user" selected. This will cause Diet Power to forget what it has learned (or, rather, mislearned) about your metabolism and begin measuring it afresh. For more insight, see Starting Over.
Don't confuse your calorie budget with the Personal Daily Allowance (PDA) of calories showing in your Nutrient History. Your PDA will normally be higher than your budget, because Diet Power assumes that you want to burn off some of your PDA in exercise and end up with a net intake equal to your budget. For particulars, see Calories.
Got a Suggestion for This Page?
Last Modified: 12/30/08