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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. 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. Jenny Craig has a good track record for short-term weight loss up to one year. In a UC San Diego clinical trial of dieters funded by Jenny Craig , Jenny Craig clients lost 11 percent of their initial weight after 12 months, compared with 3 percent weight loss by those who were dieting on their own.
The "doctor-designed" Bistro M. The price is a cut above the competition, too. The plan tries to help you avoid a weight-loss stall out by varying the daily calorie intake between 1, and 1, 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. The basic plan is great for anyone who wants to save money, or just wants to give the Nutrisystem program a trial run.
It will give you a great idea of what their meals and snacks are like, plus it is a very cost-effective way to reach your weight loss goals. Who is it Best for? Men get some additional servings of the smart fuel and carbs, plus an additional dessert, which why their plan costs more. For starters, it costs slightly more than their basic package, but there are additional options that make this a more desirable choice.
For starters, you can choose the fully-customizable option without paying extra, which means you have full control over the foods you eat. The folks at Nutrisystem are all about providing you the best opportunities for weight-loss success which is why they provide a bevy of prepackaged foods and snacks that you can keep nearby when you feel a craving coming on.
Uniquely Yours plan is a great option if you want total control of your foods, full access to the frozen menu, and access to their largest selection of foods.
Nutrisystem has generously extended a special offer for Diet Dynamo readers. If you have less than ten to drop, then you can customize a menu that will still help you meet your goals.
Either way, you will be able to find a plan that fits your budget, matches your weight loss goals, and meets your dietary and nutritional needs. Your job will be to decide how much weight you need to lose, and how many of your meals and snacks you want Nutrisystem to provide. Obviously, things will vary depending on whether you go with their traditional plans, or the more specialized versions, like what they offer for diabetics or vegetarians, for example.
For starters, ADO makes everything very convenient. Basically, with this feature, you get a four-week supply of food automatically sent your door each month. However, there is one caveat with Auto Delivery, and that is the cancellation fee. Also, if you use Nutrisystem for one month, and then decide you want to cancel after that, there are other routes you can go to avoid paying the early termination fee. All of this included with your first 4-week order, plus you get access to their team of experts who can give you the best advice for losing weight.
This box is loaded with food and shakes, that will help you make the most of your first week on the program. Following the Turbo Takeoff plan should help your body adjust to Nutrisystem diet plan, while also getting your weight loss kicked into high gear. Follow the detailed plan that is included, and you should lose a decent amount of weight during your first week on the program.
For starters, both options come with many of the same delicious food choices, but it comes down to how much freedom you want to have when choosing the foods that you eat.
On the other hand, you may prefer having full control of the food you will be eating when on Nutrisystem, which is exactly why they created the Custom Plan. This option is also great if you have the extra time to really go through all of their food options and prepare your menu for the week.
These prices are subject to change at any time. We do our best to keep them current, but ultimately the awesome folks at Nutrisystem decide how much things will cost, and they may change periodically.
I certainly liked reading all that is written on your site. Keep the posts coming. Trying to figure out what works best for me. ET the day before your order is scheduled to be processed by calling My brother recommended I might like this website. He was entirely right. This post truly made my day. You can not imagine just how much time I had spent for this information! Buy food to supplement 2 of their meals and one snack every day. Oh and supply the food for 2 flex meals each week.
You will save a good amount of money. Pus the food will taste better. I still think Nutrisystem is fairly priced, and is an excellent resource for people looking to lose weight quickly. You will get results when following their plan, which is why it can be a great option for a lot of people who have a significant amount of weight to lose.
For me, it has been a good way to reset after weight gain, and then I can go back to focusing on eating healthy and preparing meals on my own, sort of like you plan to do. In any case, hope your month went well, and best of luck with your weight loss journey. You have made some good points, and the pricing info is well-detailed.
Thanks Carla, happy to hear you found the information useful — if you decide to try Nutrisystem, I hope it goes well! Thanks for the pricing info. Has anyone else been able to do this? Hi Cindy — Thanks for visiting, and happy to hear the pricing info helped!
I think 5 to 10 pounds is totally doable, especially if you commit to the full 2 months! Remember, Nutrisystem does offer counselors to help keep you on track, and as long as you stick to the program, you should see a significant amount of weight loss during that time period! That has definitely been a key to success for me over the years.
In any case, best of luck — let us know how it goes! I was pretty pleased to find this web site and your cost breakdown is very detailed. Thanks for all of the information — it makes my decision a lot easier. Hopefully can report back with some great results. Thanks for all of the information. Makes my decision a lot easier knowing exactly what things are going to cost! Need to loose about 59 pounds. Thank you for the sensible critique and cost info. Mostly fish and vegetables.
Sometimes chicken or turkey but not all the time! Is there a plan to start me on this regiment? Can you send some ideas and pricing plans? I tried turbo shakes with other companies and they gave me lots of gas…lol Thanks if this gets to you. Hi Jim — sorry, I missed this comment at the time you posted it. I would also recommend looking at BistroMD https: Diet-to-Go has some really good plans that sound like they could work for you. Both are going to be a bit more pricey than Nutrisystem, but sound like they could be a better fit.
My husband and I are considering NS. We also do not want to purchase ANY other food if possible. Hi Lynn — I replied to Ray with a couple of other options BistroMD and Diet-to-Go …I would recommend checking out those reviews if you think they may be something that would work for you and your husband.