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Diet Plan Review: Best Ways to Lose Weight. The TV ads, filled with celebrity endorsers and regular people holding out their enormous . 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, Money. Watch 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 2. 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.
Weight Watchers. Cost: Choose the 3. If you won’t go to meetings, try three months of online- only services for $5.
The skinny: 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 2. 00. 5 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed participants lost an average of about 5 percent of their body weight (1.
Two years later, they had kept about half the weight off. To help members stay on track, Weight Watchers encourages them to attend meetings until they’ve stayed within 2 pounds of their goal weight for six weeks.
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After that, you get free lifetime membership. The company says members using its online tools in addition to attending meetings lost 5. How much can you expect to lose?
Up to 2 pounds per week. Cost to lose 2. 0 pounds: $1. For the online- only option, plan on spending $7. Cost per pound of weight loss: $4 or $8, not including food Worth the money? It’s economical and has a proven track record.
The optional meal delivery service, e. Diets Fresh Prepared Meal Delivery, costs $1. The skinny: You can choose from among more than 2. Online tools let you set goals, plan menus and generate shopping lists. There’s no face- to- face support, but you get support through online message boards, and you can reach a registered dietitian and personal trainer by phone at any time. The optional meal delivery service offers freshly prepared, calorie- controlled meals delivered in a cooler.
But telephone support has some evidence in its favor: “A couple of studies have shown that telephone support is just as effective as live support,” says Christine Gerbstadt, M. D., spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. How much can you expect to lose? Cost to lose 2. 0 pounds: For online membership, $5.
For meal delivery, which includes online membership, $1,7. Cost per pound of weight loss: $2. Meal delivery: No — for about the same money, other services offer better track records.
Southbeachdiet. com. Cost: $5 a week after a free seven- day trial with a minimum commitment of four weeks, plus the cost of the South Beach Diet book. The skinny: Southbeachdiet. Arthur Agatston. For the first two weeks, you eat three extremely low- carb meals a day plus two snacks. After that, you gradually add “good carbs,” such as fruits and whole grains. You can customize menus, search a database of more than 1,0. There’s online support from staff dieticians and members plus daily motivational emails.
However, the advantage disappeared over the long term. How much can you expect to lose? Cost to lose 2. 0 pounds: $5. Cost per pound of weight loss: $2. Worth the money? The skinny: The Zone diet is mostly meat, fruits, and vegetables. Home- delivered “gourmet” frozen meals have a ratio of 4. You eat three meals per day plus two Zone protein- powder snacks.
A 2. 00. 7 study of 1. Journal of American Medical Association found the Zone diet helped people achieve modest weight loss after one year, comparable with those on the Atkins, Weight Watchers and Ornish diets, and improved cardiac risk factors. How much can you expect to lose?
A sales agent told us that the program fee will soon change to $3. Meals average $5 a pop; the total cost for 3 meals and two snacks a day runs $1. The skinny: Premium- priced Jenny Craig offers nutritionally balanced packaged food; you order by phone and pick it up at a Jenny Craig center or have it delivered through Jenny Direct (for a $6. You eat three Jenny Craig meals plus a snack per day, and supplement with fruit, vegetables and dairy. Once a week, you get a weigh- in and pep talk with a consultant — who is not a dietician and who earns commissions from selling you products. There’s also round- the- clock phone support and online tools that include a menu planner, activity planner and progress tracker. Jenny Craig has a good track record for short- term weight loss (up to one year).
In a UC San Diego clinical trial of 4. Jenny Craig), Jenny Craig clients lost 1. How much can you expect to lose? Yes — it’s got reasonably priced meal delivery and in- person support. 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.
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 1. How much can you expect to lose? Yes: It’s a reasonable price for well- made food with slightly faster average weight loss than with Jenny Craig. Nutrisystem. Cost: $3. There’s also a $1. Walmart. The skinny: 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 5.
Jenny Craig, you add fruits, vegetables and dairy. Support is available through phone counseling, weekly e- classes with a dietician and tracking tools. 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 1,2. How much can you expect to lose?
Cost of losing 2. Cost per pound of weight loss: $6. Worth the money? Yes: For a meal- delivery diet system, Nutrisystem is more economical than Jenny Craig. Medifast. Cost: $7. The skinny: 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. With the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan, you eat five small meal replacements a day that are about 1. The 7. 0 meal replacement choices include shakes, bars, soups, pudding, oatmeal, chili, pretzel sticks, cheese puffs, and scrambled eggs.
Does it work? A common concern with such low- calorie diets is that you’ll quickly regain the weight, but in a small clinical trial published in the journal Experimental Biology, after 1. How much can you expect to lose? Support- Only Plans.
Plan. Cost. Cost per pound of weight loss. Avg. 1. 45 to $1. Nutrisystem$2. 99 to $3. Medifast$7. 5/week$1.
This article was updated by Eileen P. Gunn. More on Money.