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Read visitors' weight control success stories using Ask the Dietitian® calculators.

Healthy Body Calculator® White Paper

Read frequently asked questions about the Healthy Body Calculator®.

The Healthy Body Calculator® replicates how a dietitian would assess a person's weight for height and calorie needs. It was launched online November 1996 to provide visitors with a science based tool to determine a healthy body weight for height, a personalized calorie target based on a person's weight goal (lose, maintain, gain) and nutritional requirements. The Healthy Body Calculator® was last updated January 2008 using new research.

The Problem:
Visitors were asking what they should weigh and how many calories they should eat to reach their weight goal. Like any dietitian, Joanne Larsen manually calculated weight and calorie targets for visitors.

Understanding the Healthy Body Calculator® Design:
The Healthy Body Calculator® incorporates the latest research on body weight and calorie requirements using proprietary algorithms designed to solve the problems "what should I weigh and how many calories should I eat". It works for every adult, tall people, short people, underweight people, overweight people, men, women, pregnant women (even with twins), breastfeeding women, people with amputated limbs, people with eating disorders and athletes with lower than average body fat. It works using US or metric measurements.

How the Healthy Body Calculator® Solves the Problem:
People can enter their physical data on one page and quickly get their detailed results. Pregnant women can find out how much weight to gain. People who want to lose or gain weight are provided a calorie target so they know how many calories to eat and if they can lose weight as fast as they desire without starving themselves. Activities can be added and based on how strenuous the activity is people can see how exercising positively affects how many calories they can eat. Your Nutrition Facts shows people the amounts of nutrients they need. The waist to hip ratio tells people where they carry their weight and the health implications. This is a tool doctors, nurses and dietitians can use with people who have lost limbs due to war, trauma or diabetes because it considers limb amputations. Athletes get realistic feedback on weight goals when they are exercising to lose body fat even when they have higher than average body weight due to large muscle mass. It doesn't tell lean, muscled athletes they are overweight.

Your Nutrition Facts provides not only how many calories a person should eat, but also their personal RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance). As people lose weight, they can re-enter their physical data and get a new calorie target. This helps prevent a weight loss plateau often experienced when following the same calorie target for the duration of a weight loss program.

It is the most extensive, accurate weight and calorie calculator on the Internet, providing people with a healthy weight range and healthy calorie target to achieve their weight goal thatincludes individual nutrient requirements.

HELP Healthy Eating For Life Plan® White Paper

Read frequently asked questions about HELP Healthy Eating for Life Plan®

HELP Healthy Eating for Life Plan® will calculate what, how much and when to eat using results from the Healthy Body Calculator® or from your own calorie target. HELP will guide people to achieve their weight goal (lose, gain or maintain) by creating a personalized eating plan and providing a database of foods everybody eats. HELP is a fuzzy logic expert system that replicates the art of how dietitians create healthy eating plans while integrating a person's individual food preferences.

The Problem:
Previously visitors were left on their own to implement their own diet to control their calories in order to reach their weight goal. Many people don't control food serving size or understand how eating several smaller meals lessen the impact of eating a lot of calories at one or two meals each day. People find it difficult to accommodate various food preferences like milk allergies or vegetarian foods and stay within their calorie target. People struggle with identifying healthy foods or fitting favorite foods into their weight control plan.

Food is the best source of nutrients, not dietary supplements, so helping people choose nutrient rich foods at meals will support a healthy lifestyle. Traditional diets do not have the flexibility to adapt to people's food preferences and often require specific foods while eliminating so called "fattening" foods. Any diet may be successful in the short term if it contains fewer calories than an individual needs to maintain weight, but diets don't help people change eating behaviors for long term weight loss or prevent weight re-gain. Usually when people go off traditional diets, they re-gain any weight lost when they return to their usual eating habits. Often diets are lacking essential, required nutrients caused by eliminating whole groups of foods like starches.

Understanding HELP Healthy Eating for Life Plan® Design:
Eating plans are different than menus which list specific foods at specific meals like orange juice at breakfast or a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce and mayonnaise at lunch. Eating plans are based on food groups such as vegetable, fruit, milk, grains, meat or beans, fat and include the number of servings recommended for each meal or snack based on a person's calorie target. Eating plans are a guide for what food group and portion size to eat at a meal or snack while allowing a person to select foods they prefer to create their own menus. HELP Essential FoodsTM list a large variety of foods that most people eat and provide healthy food choices.

People can include their food preferences for vegetarian or meat eater, milk drinker or not and how many snacks they want planned. HELP will generate a personalized eating plan including their food preferences with 3 meals and 0 to 3 snacks. We do not recommend pre-defined eating plans based on generic calorie levels like 1200, 1500, 1800, etc which are typically used by traditional diets. HELP's calorie targets from 1,200 to 5,000 calories have been tested to be functional within the minimum and maximum protein, fat, carbohydrate percentages. All plans fall within user selected ranges except for high protein vegetarian eating plans which by nature are higher in healthy fats due to soy.

Dietitians or people who know how many calories they need can bypass the Healthy Body Calculator® and start HELP by entering a calorie target that will be used to generate their custom eating plan. Minimum and maximum calorie and macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) values constrain the HELP system into scientifically defined healthy ranges. However, the calorie target entered by the person which bypasses the Healthy Body Calculator® may not be appropriate for a person's weight and height, pregnancy, childhood growth or their weight goal (gain, lose or maintain), but will result in a healthy eating plan. Appropriate caveats are displayed.

How HELP Healthy Eating for Life Plan® Solves the Problem:
People can click on any food group in their eating plan to see healthy food choices from the HELP Essential Foods™ database such as broccoli and carrots in the vegetable group or orange juice and banana in the fruit group. A food database of over 800 foods has been created and foods have been logically classified by food group. These foods are nutrient rich, healthy foods most people eat as well as calorie rich foods for people who need to gain weight.

Eating suggestions follow the eating plan to help guide people in changing food behaviors. They can print off their eating plan daily and check off foods as they eat helping them stay focused on their eating in real time.

HELP will guide people to achieve their weight goal while making healthy food choices from HELP Essential Foods™, choosing appropriate portion sizes and changing eating behaviors that caused weight gain without making drastic changes in the foods they prefer. It creates a personalized healthy eating plan that is flexible and adaptable enough to fit people's food preferences and life style for the rest of their life.

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