Diet Plan Review: Best Ways to Lose Weight

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The Best Ways to Lose 20 Pounds
No — for about the same money, other services offer better track records. Jenny Craig has a good track record for short-term weight loss up to one year. We looked at two plans from eDiets - one that offers support alone, and another with meal delivery. That explains why Weight Watchers has impressive short-term results. Which of these diet programs are worth your money? Homeless man seen in viral video lands job at McDonald's. The optional meal delivery service offers freshly prepared, calorie-controlled meals delivered in a cooler.

Weight Watchers


With the holidays over, you may be looking down at the bulging evidence of too much merriment around your waistline. If you've resolved to lose weight in , you might be considering signing up for a commercial diet plan, such as Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, or Jenny Craig. The TV ads, filled with celebrity endorsers and regular people holding out their enormous "old jeans," make the diet plans sound terribly tempting. Although an FTC rule now requires testimonial ads to cite typical results, the looming question still remains: Which of these diet programs are worth your money?

To find out, MoneyWatch analyzed eight of the biggest diet plans. Three are support-only plans that don't require you to buy their food, and five are food-delivery plans.

We interviewed leading nutritionists and weight-loss professionals, pored through clinical studies, and tallied up membership fees and food costs to determine the ones most likely to help you slim down and to see how much you'd pay to drop 20 pounds.

Our favorite for value and efficacy is Weight Watchers , designed to help you change your eating habits for good. Nutrisystem is the least expensive meal delivery plan we reviewed Medifast is cheaper, but you have to provide one meal a day on your own. And the silver-spoon award undoubtedly goes to In The Zone Delivery , a white-glove service for people who'll spare no expense to drop the pounds.

Here's how the plans stack up. See the handy chart at the bottom of the page for a side-by-side comparison. The oldest national weight-loss program, its members rave about the encouragement they get at weekly meetings led by former Weight Watchers dieters.

Nutritionists praise the portion-control points system: Each food is assigned points based on its serving size, calories, fiber, and fat; and no foods are forbidden. Your point allowance is based on your weight, height, gender, age, and activity level. A recent clinical study in the New England Journal of Medicine linked group counseling sessions to weight-loss success. That explains why Weight Watchers has impressive short-term results.

A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed participants lost an average of about 5 percent of their body weight 10 pounds in six months. Two years later, they had kept about half the weight off. After that, you get free lifetime membership. The company says members using its online tools in addition to attending meetings lost 50 percent more weight than those going to meetings alone.

Cost to lose 20 pounds: We looked at two plans from eDiets — one that offers support alone, and another with meal delivery. You can choose from among more than 20 diet plans, including ones for diabetics and vegetarians.

Online tools let you set goals, plan menus and generate shopping lists. The optional meal delivery service offers freshly prepared, calorie-controlled meals delivered in a cooler. But telephone support has some evidence in its favor: Cost per pound of weight loss: No — for about the same money, other services offer better track records.

For the first two weeks, you eat three extremely low-carb meals a day plus two snacks. You can customize menus, search a database of more than 1, recipes and get a personalized shopping list. Studies have shown that after one year, carb-restricted diets led to greater weight loss and increased heart health than low-fat diets.

However, the advantage disappeared over the long term. How much can you expect to lose? Figure on 8 to 13 pounds during the two-week kick-start phase, then 1 to 2 pounds a week thereafter. By eating a little more some days and a little less on others, you'll supposedly prevent your body from becoming used to the same number of calories every day. While no university studies support the theory that varying caloric intake aids weight loss, the high quality of the food and the relatively large portion sizes have been praised by Health magazine, Dr.

Phil and The New York Times. Some plan users have complained of a lack of choices and menu flexibility compared to other plans, but a company spokesman says they offer more than entrees and can make substitutions to accommodate allergies and food preferences. It's a reasonable price for well-made food with slightly faster average weight loss than with Jenny Craig.

This meal-delivery service, endorsed by Marie Osmond and Dan Marino, emphasizes foods with a low glycemic index. The underlying premise is that controlling blood sugar levels leads to weight loss.

The heat-and-eat prepared meals and snacks contain roughly 55 percent "good" carbs, 25 percent protein, and 20 percent fats; like Jenny Craig, you add fruits, vegetables and dairy. Support is available through phone counseling and online chat rooms. There's plenty of research showing that following a diet of 1, to 1, calories a day, such as Nutrisystem, can cause weight loss.

For example, a study by the Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in New York found that postmenopausal women who followed a 1,calorie plan for 16 weeks lost an average of 21 pounds. For a meal-delivery diet system, Nutrisystem is more economical than Jenny Craig. Although today's program is not as stringent as the original liquid fast Medifast launched decades ago, the low-fat, relatively low-carb plan is designed to bring about rapid weight loss by coaxing your body into a "fat-burning state" known as ketosis.

The 70 meal replacement choices include shakes, bars, soups, pudding, oatmeal, chili, pretzel sticks, cheese puffs, and scrambled eggs.

If you can stick with it, a diet of 1, calories a day can certainly induce rapid weight loss. A common concern with such low-calorie diets is that you'll quickly regain the weight, but in a small clinical trial recently published in the journal Experimental Biology , after 10 months, only about one in five people regained all the weight they had lost.

Choose this more extreme plan only if quick weight loss is your priority. Within hours of posting a seven-second video of their son learning to walk, Whitney and Adam Dinkel were flooded with messages. The small town of Wenatchee, Washington, is at the center of a virtual gold rush — whether residents like it or not. Share Tweet Reddit Flipboard Email. Cost per pound of weight loss: It's economical and has a proven track record.

In the Zone Delivery Cost: No, unless you're looking for white-glove service. Yes - it's got reasonably priced meal delivery and in-person support.

Cost of losing 20 pounds: Featured Video of 2-year-old boy learning to walk inspires millions Within hours of posting a seven-second video of their son learning to walk, Whitney and Adam Dinkel were flooded with messages Cryptocurrency: Virtual money, real power The small town of Wenatchee, Washington, is at the center of a virtual gold rush — whether residents like it or not Notable deaths in Popular on CBS News.

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