Diet Plans & Programs: The "Skinny" on Popular Diet Plans

America's trusted food database

The Best Ways to Lose 20 Pounds
You can also pack up baby carrots or your own trail mix with the healthiest nuts you can eat , plus raisins, seeds, and dried fruit. You want to drop pounds, now. Consuming the right amount of calories is one part of a successful weight loss regime. Our bodies need all three to function properly. While physical activity is a vital part of weight control, so is controlling the number of calories you eat.

What's the best diet for diabetes?

Medieval cuisine

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.

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. 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. There's no face-to-face support, but you get support through online message boards and a mentor program that connects newbies with an experienced member.

Also, you can reach a registered dietitian or personal trainer by phone at any time. The optional meal delivery service offers freshly prepared, calorie-controlled meals delivered by FedEx. But telephone support has some evidence in its favor: Yes, it's a bargain for round-the-clock support. 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 mandatory 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, recipes and get a personalized shopping list.

There's online support from staff dieticians and members plus daily motivational emails. 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. It doesn't cost much, but you don't get as much support as with Weight Watchers or eDiets.

The Zone diet is mostly meat, fruits, and vegetables. You eat three meals per day plus two Zone protein-powder snacks. A study of people in the 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.

Premium-priced Jenny Craig lets you order its heart-healthy, nutritionally balanced packaged food by phone and pick it up at a Jenny Craig center or have it delivered through Jenny Direct. 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. Also, if you reduce the variety of foods in your diet, you could exclude vital nutrients and not be able to stay on the diet over time.

While physical activity is a vital part of weight control, so is controlling the number of calories you eat. If you take in more calories than you use, you will still gain weight. What other factors besides diet and behavior contribute to overweight and obesity?

Environment and genetic factors may add to causes of overweight and obesity. For more information, see Other Factors in Weight Gain. Cutting Calories at Every Meal. You can cut calories by eating foods high in fiber, making better drink choices, avoiding portion size pitfalls, and adding more fruits and vegetables to your eating plan.

Even a modest weight loss, such as 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight, can produce health benefits. Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight. Other water-rich foods include soups and salads. Learn how to tell if you need to eat more vegetables.

Bulk up your meals with veggies You can eat twice as much pasta salad loaded with veggies like broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes for the same calories as a pasta salad sporting just mayonnaise. Same goes for stir-fries, omelets, and other veggie-friendly dishes.

If you eat a 1: Fiber is highly beneficial for preventing constipation , which can make you look bloated. Large amounts of simple carbohydrates from white flour and added sugar can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and lead to weight gain. While avoiding sugar, white rice, and white flour, however, you should eat plenty of whole-grain breads and brown rice. One Harvard study of 74, women found that those who ate more than two daily servings of whole grains were 49 percent less likely to be overweight than those who ate the white stuff.

Eating whole grains is not only one of many great ways to lose weight; it can also make you smarter. Switch to ordinary coffee Fancy coffee drinks from trendy coffee joints often pack several hundred calories, thanks to whole milk, whipped cream, sugar, and sugary syrups. A cup of regular coffee with skim milk has just a small fraction of those calories.

And when brewed with good beans, it tastes just as great. You can also try nonfat powdered milk in coffee. Try these other calorie-free coffee hacks to wean off the bad stuff. Eggs have just 70 calories in one hard-boiled egg, loaded with fat-releasing protein.

Part-skim ricotta cheese has just 39 calories in one ounce, packed with fat-releasing calcium. And a University of Tennessee study found that people who cut calories a day and ate yogurt three times a day for 12 weeks lost more weight and body fat than a group that only cut the calories.

Add these other fat-burning foods to your diet, too. Make a spoonful of ice cream the jewel and a bowl of fruit the crown. Balance a little cheese with a lot of fruit or salad.

They also consume more fiber and calcium—and less fat—than those who eat other breakfast foods. Try hot sauce, salsa, and Cajun seasonings They provide lots of flavor with no fat and few calories, plus they turn up your digestive fires, causing your body to temporarily burn more calories. Choose them over butter and creamy or sugary sauces. Learn more ways to eat less fat without missing the taste.

Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice For the calories in one kid-size box of apple juice, you can enjoy an apple, orange, and a slice of watermelon. Check out these other healthy food swaps you never thought of. Each step downward cuts the calories by about 20 percent.

Snacking once or twice a day is one of the ways to lose weight that helps stave off hunger and keeps your metabolism stoked. You can also pack up baby carrots or your own trail mix with the healthiest nuts you can eat , plus raisins, seeds, and dried fruit. And you have more opportunities to burn off those early-day calories than you do to burn off dinner calories. Brush your teeth after every meal, especially dinner That clean, minty freshness will serve as a cue to your body and brain that mealtime is over.

Serve food in courses Instead of piling everything on one plate, bring food to the table in individual courses. For the first two courses, bring out soup or veggies such as a green salad or the most filling fruits and vegetables.

Nothing wrong with leftovers! Learn more ways a salad can make you fat. Next, check out some more weird ways to lose weight that sound odd, but totally work.

Originally Published on sitename. Find ways other than eating to express love, tame stress, and relieve boredom. You might feel silly, but it works. One study found that eating in front of mirrors slashed the amount people ate by nearly one-third.

Stuck at a desk all day? A brisk five-minute walk every two hours will parlay into an extra minute walk by the end of the day. And getting a break will make you less likely to reach for snacks out of antsiness. Look for sugar-free varieties of foods such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressing. At the table, sip water frequently.

After dinner, wash all the dishes, wipe down the counters, turn out the light, and, if necessary, tape closed the cabinets and refrigerator. Stopping late-night snacking can save or more calories a day, or 31 pounds a year. In a study of 10 obese women conducted at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, 20 minutes of walking reduced appetite and increased sensations of fullness as effectively as a light meal.

Surprising Reasons for Weight Gain