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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 a new 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. 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. Excited to see what kind of progress I can make.
Hi Krystal — thanks for visiting the site, and taking the time to read my review and watch the videos. Always happy to hear that it helped!
Thanks for the great info and for sharing your story! Thanks for the kind words, June! Congrats on taking the first step and best of luck with Nutrisystem — hope it goes well! I mastered more new things on this fat reduction issue. An enormous reduction in junk food, sugary foods, fried foods, sugary foods, beef, and white flour products may perhaps be necessary. Holding wastes unwanted organisms, and wastes may prevent ambitions for fat-loss.
While specific drugs for the short term solve the situation, the unpleasant side effects are certainly not worth it, plus they never present more than a short-term solution. Many thanks sharing your thinking on this weblog.
Thanks for the input Saul. Have you ever considered creating an ebook or guest authoring about Nutrisystem on other sites? I know my readers would appreciate your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email. Hi Lance — I actually do have an eBook in the works, so stay tuned for that!
I just wanted to say that this post is awesome, well written and lots of useful Nutrisystem info. Looking forward to my first shipment. Hi Corburt — Thanks for the kind words, and best of luck with your first month — hope it goes well! I just wanted to offer you a huge thumbs up for the great information you have right here on this post. I will be returning to your site for more soon! This blog looks exactly like my old one!
Great choice of colors! Really inspired by your story — thanks for sharing! I am planning to start Nutrisystem after the New Year. Hi Erin — Thanks so much for the positive feedback. The first time I ever used Nutrisytem, which was many years ago at this point, I think I was one it for 4 months.
I had a lot more weight to lose then; now when I sign up, I usually use it for a month, maybe two at the most. To lock in the auto delivery deal, you have to commit to two months, so if you hit your weight loss goals after month 1, I recommend switching your order to just the Turbo Shakes — that will ensure you lock in the most savings, and also helps to keep you on track once you start transitioning off the program.
As I have said before, you have to be committed to the program to get results, but as long as you follow their plan you will lose weight! Anyways, best of luck and please let us know how it goes: Thanks for sharing your story. Drinking over ounces and eating tons of leafy greens.
I did NS about 4 years ago lost almost This past July was told my chloerstral and blood pressure was too high for 28 year old. So black Friday I ordered when prices decreased. Hi Amanda — Thanks for visiting and reading my story. Hope it goes as well this time around. Thanks for sharing your superb review. You have a lot of good info here.
I am looking for a diet to try just after the new year, and this might be the one. Either way, appreciate all of the details you shared. Thanks, just what I was looking for. I have about 20 pounds to lose — is this doable in a month or two? Hi Sam — Thanks for the positive feedback. Losing 20 pounds is definitely doable with Nutrisystem, but I would budget at least two months.
I signed up for Nutrisystem this week, and I am really hoping that I have the same results. I think my first shipment should arrive just before Christmas, so think I will get started right after the holiday. Thanks so much for the review — definitely gives me hope! Hi Kris — congrats on signing up — while results will vary for everyone, I truly believe that you will lose a lot of weight if you follow the program — so stick with it, and let us know how it goes.
They try to rip you off when quit their auto delivery program. Very very unpleasant people to deal with. They shipped me stuff 3 days after I had already cancelled and had a confirmation number stating I cancelled. They refused to turn the shipment around or to take it back and are trying to create some kind of lie that I created a 2nd account in November and they only cancelled one account.
The only thing I did in November was update my credit card expiration date which I regret. If I guaranteed no more shipments are coming to my name or my address that should be the end of the story, not with them! I am fighting them through my credit card company but please be aware of whatever traps they have in store for any of you.
Hi Troy — Sorry to hear that that was your experience. It was actually a customer service rep who told me I could switch from the meal delivery to just the Turbo Shakes after my first month on the program to lock in the auto-delivery savings without having to commit to another month of food.
In any case, I hope you are able to get things resolved! I started the program today, January 1st. My resolution is to feel better about myself, but do it in a healthy way that had structure.
How much and when I should be eating vegetables, and ideas on what to eat if you have to attend a social function or business based meeting that involves food. Thanks for posting a well written, and information overview of this program.
I have three questions and maybe one is a question for a NS counselor… 1. Or can tomatoes, cukes, etc. Also, plain or with some sort of dressing? How many turbo shakes can you have per week… and when can they be consumed?
Thanks in advance …. Hi Tami — Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I always add extra veggies to my greens and have found the only thing you really need to watch out for is the salad dressing. But for me, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. I usually have my TurboShake midday — around 2: That said, I would definitely suggest using the Nutrisystem counseling service for full clarification, though — especially for questions 2 and 3. Best of luck if you decide to try the full program! I wanted to say that this article is nicely written and included almost all the vital info I needed.
Thanks for the review. I second your recommendation for Nutrisystem. Their service helped me significantly a few years ago. Hoping for the same results! Hi Maria — thanks for commenting! Hope it goes well again if you decide to give it another try. Have you found that Nutrisystem is a good way for keeping the weight off over the long term? How long do you really have to be on Nutrisystem before you starting seeing results?
Just finished month 1 and lost about 9 pounds! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He was always trying new weight loss products. I will forward this page to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!
I just read this well written post. I have a handicapped daughter who has gained so much weight. We have tried everything with very little success.
After taking to her doctors we decided to give NS a try. She started the program on February 16, She is loving the food and the program.
She has already dropped three pounds. Her beginning weight was So she has a long way to go. But the support and your post will definitely help her obtain her goals for healthier lifestyle. We will keep you informed on her progress. Thank you so much. Hi Shirley — What an inspirational story — really hoping she has success! Thanks for keeping us posted, and wishing your daughter all the best. I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!
I have been on Nutrisystem for about 5 weeks now. I lost 15 pounds the first month and have been following it to a T. The food tastes fine and it is very easy to just grab something pop it in the microwave if necessary and go. I have been using My Fitness Pal to track my food and am eating about calories a day. The first week was really tough and I had a hard time, but I stuck to it. Now I m satisfied and use to it.
Planning on finishing up the second month and then on the 3rd month working in more home cooked meals and tracking to stay at the same calorie level. Then will switch over to the auto ship of Turbo shakes for my 4th month.
I have about 40 pounds to lose and feel like I am making some good headway with the Nutrisystem plan. Please take the time to complete them. We want All Access to be what you want it to be. So, the more info we get from you, the better your All Access experience will be!
Training Find a Plan All Access: What do you get with All Access? New plans added monthly. Video Instruction Learn from overview videos, pro tips, and exercise demonstrations. Nutrition Plans Think outside the gym with meal plans, recipes, and supplements. Apps for Most Plans Take your workout with you—most plans have apps available.