is anything but easy. In fact, it is so difficult that many people turn to online programs and food preparation services prepared for you for help. However, dietitians say that while programs like WW and Optavia could boost your weight loss, they may not set you up for long-term success.
For this guide to popular weight loss programs, Emily Wunder, Registered Dieter, and Kristin Gillespie, Registered Dieter, will help understand a successful diet and explain six different ways to lose weight.
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What Makes a Diet Successful?
There is no best approach to weight loss – everyone is different and will succeed with different tactics. However, Wunder and Gillespie have concluded that some generic strategies will work for most people.
Just because you need to eat fewer calories to lose weight doesn't mean you need to eat fewer types of foods to lose weight, says Gillespie. "Diets are often most successful when they have a variety of foods and we feel less constrained," she says. "When diets cut or restrict whole foods or groups of foods, we feel like we're missing out on something (because we are)."
On the other hand, Gillespie continues: "If we are allowed to have pretty much everything but focus on consuming less healthy foods in moderation, we are more likely to be successful."
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Make it comfortable
The word "diet" has such negative connotations because of the way it is tossed around in relation to weight loss. But diets don't have to suck that bad, says Wunder. "Eating behavior should be pleasant and interesting for someone to adhere to," she explains. "The hope is that people will make changes to their current diet that will move them towards a healthier diet."
Find your motivation
Go beyond general goals like "lose weight" and "get well". Dig deeper and find out why you are really dieting encourages miracles. " matter what plan or diet you follow, if you are not motivated and really want change, it will be very difficult to follow," she says.
Treat yourself to real assets to keep your motivation high. "Some people are motivated to see change. So take photos to document your trip," says Wunder. "Some are motivated by awards, so plan on some special gifts to help achieve different goals."
The ticket is not a limitation
A truly sustainable diet includes foods you love, including those traditionally considered "unhealthy".
Studies show that less restrictive diets lead to better long-term compliance. So one wonders why so many people get stuck on restrictive eating cycles that lead to yo-yo diets and weight fluctuations.
"Crazy, right?" Miracle says. "The restrictive diets out there tend to promise quick results, and this attracts so many people, whether (the diet) is good for them or not."
Wunder says she's worked with clients who fall for heavy marketing, lose a lot of weight, and then gain weight again. Ultimately, Wunder says, most people find that a more stable and enjoyable weight loss plan would lead to long-term success.
Gillespie saw the same thing in her practice. "When it comes to eating healthy and losing weight, a lot of people are looking for a quick fix," she says. While most people understand the fact that an overall healthy diet will ultimately lead to weight loss, those same people want results now – a few months is too far away and why wait when the latest detox diet promises you weight loss by 20 pounds in two Weeks?
Well, let's close the loop: research shows that compliance with the regulations is the single most important factor in successful weight loss. You need a diet that you can stick to for the long term, and it is usually almost impossible to follow restrictive diets for more than a few weeks.
5 weight loss programs rated by dietitians
With that in mind, I asked Wunder and Gillespie about some of the most popular weight loss programs. From self-guided app-based programs to pre-made grocery deliveries, there are numerous weight loss programs to choose from.
I want to make it clear that nobody needs to buy any of these programs to lose weight, but they can be helpful for people who need guidance, convenience, or accountability.
WW has been around for decades. It's an old weight loss program that often tops the "best diets" list. A major reason for this is the training that helps users make positive dietary changes.
WW offers different plans. You can sign up for a virtual-only program for around $ 17 per month. virtual plus face-to-face workshops for approximately USD 38 per month; and one-on-one virtual plus coaching for approximately USD 51 per month.
"Overall, this is one of the better weight loss programs because it's relatively sustainable in the long run," says Gillespie. "Since the scoring system allows users to seemingly still have the food they want, it is not perceived as limiting."
Accountability from group meetings (with personal option) and deliberations also contributes to sustainability.
The main disadvantage of the WW program is that it could encourage bad habit development – the opposite of intention. "The spots focus solely on calorie consumption, not the nutritional content of the food," notes Gillespie. "Basically, you could opt for a king-size Reese instead of a balanced, healthy lunch and still fall below your allotted points."
Should you try
WW may be a good fit for you if: You need a general nutritional education to help you make nutritional decisions and a structured, data-driven approach to weight loss.
om is a relative newcomer to the weight loss game and is called Weight Watchers for Millennials. This app-based program uses the stoplight approach and assigns colors (red, yellow and green) to foods based on their nutritional quality.
om's pricing is hard to find online, but a om spokesperson stated that its current cost (at the time of writing) is $ 59 per month, $ 99 for two months, or $ 140 for four months. Basically, om rewards you with discounted prices for a longer commitment. You can sign up for a 14-day free trial that turns into a paid subscription if you don't cancel.
"om can help create a sustainable diet by learning from the tips on offer and food logging," says Wunder. "When you fully participate, you have to be accountable, which can definitely help you lose weight."
The social media-like aspect of om can help too, Wunder says, because people who succeed in online social forums will enjoy sharing their achievements.
Based on several online reviews, it seems that om tends to make really low calorie recommendations. CNET reporter Shelby Brown tried om and the app told her to eat 1,200 calories a day, which is way too low for a 5-foot-9 adult woman.
Wunder says om may not work for people who don't like social media or who don't want extra screen time. She also doesn't recommend om for people who have had a history of eating disorders, as calorie prescriptions and food categorization can trigger bad habits.
Should you try
om may be a good fit for you if: You are generally a self-directed person but could use some structure, or when you need a digital-only weight loss program to work with your busy schedule.
Nutrisystem is a weight loss program specially designed for you that offers pre-made meals and snacks delivered to your home. This makes it easy to follow, but does not provide strategies for maintaining weight loss once you stop eating Nutrisystem meals.
Nutrisystem starts at around $ 200 per month for the lowest plan. In addition to your prepackaged meals, you will need to purchase kitchen staples and a few other items. If the convenience factor outweighs the cost to you, Nutrisystem might be worth it.
Having meals delivered to your doorstep is certainly convenient and can help you stick to your schedule. However, according to Gillespie and Wunder, this is the only benefit of Nutrisystem weight loss programs.
Gillespie says Nutrisytem "does not epitomize the elements of successful weight loss and is unsustainable over the long term" and that it is expensive considering what the program can get.
Wunder warns people to watch out for their sodium intake when following a Nutrisystem weight loss plan as the prepackaged meals are high in salt. She also explains, "While this plan helps determine portion sizes, the food provided does not fully aid learning about healthy eating."
Should you try
Nutrisystem may be a good fit for you if: You value convenience and are willing to pay a premium for it; You can commit to monitoring your sodium intake and not have any pre-existing health conditions that require you to keep your sodium intake low. and you are confident that you will be able to maintain weight loss after the plan is finished.
Optavia offers several (but very similar) weight loss plans based on shakes, bars, and other packaged foods from the Optavia brand to produce results. It's easy to follow but may not produce permanent results.
Expect around $ 400 a month for an Optavia weight loss plan, plus the cost of buying any fresh produce or protein that you need in addition to prepackaged meals and snacks. "The convenience and enjoyment of these products would definitely be a factor in determining whether they are worth the price," says Wunder.
Certain Optavia plans offer one-to-one tuition, but it's not clear if Optavia trainers are registered dietitians. When asked about the trainers' credentials, an Optavia spokesman replied that the trainers were "all backgrounds" and that many had previously been clients so they knew the pros and cons of the program.
In addition to their coach, Optavia customers have access to a nutrition support team that includes registered nutritionists, behavioral health professionals and more.
The main benefit of this weight loss program is that Optavia is convenient and easy to follow.
Optavia plans seem pretty restrictive, ranging from just 800 to 1,200 calories, mostly from Optavia branded processed foods. You can certainly lose weight with an Optavia plan, but you can regain it if you stop using Optavia.
Optavia plans also encourage you to consume many of your calories through Optavia "Fuelings," including bars, shakes, cookies, puddings, cereals, and soups. If you rely on these foods for weight loss, you are not exactly going to develop healthy habits to practice later.
Should you try
Optavia may be right for you if: You can afford the cost of the program and are sure that you will be able to maintain weight loss after you stop using Optavia.
Jenny Craig is another weight loss program for you. It embodies many of the same properties as Optavia and Nutrisystem, but is even more expensive.
Jenny Craig is the least affordable plan on this list. The lowest plan starts at $ 390 per month and only provides two meals a day. If you want the full weight loss plan that includes all daily meals and snacks, plus coaching (that isn't from a registered dietitian), your tab will be nearly $ 670 per month.
"This program helps with the visual representation of portion sizes, but depending on the plan you choose, it may not offer much else to lead to a healthy, sustainable diet," says Wunder. Convenience is Jenny Craig's main benefit, but as we know from the previous Wunder and Gillespie posts, convenience is not always the best way to achieve sustainable weight loss.
"In order to be able to access this plan, a willingness to pay a premium is required," says Wunder. "Even with processed foods, it is definitely necessary to watch out for sodium levels."
Like the other plans that send groceries to your door, Jenny Craig doesn't do much in terms of education. If you stop eating Jenny Craig meals, this weight loss plan will likely leave you without the information you need to continue losing weight or maintaining your weight.
Should you try
Jenny Craig may be a good fit for you if: You don't have a disorder that requires you to limit sodium; and you can afford to pay the monthly fees.
Work directly with a nutritionist
Of course, Wunder and Gillespie agree that working with a nutritionist is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. This will give you access to a trained professional's knowledge of nutrition science and behavior modification strategies – the two most important factors involved in losing weight.
However, working with a nutritionist can be costly and time-consuming, and because of these two drawbacks, it is not available to everyone.
Working in person with someone who knows your lifestyle, medical history, and eating habits is an ideal way to lose weight.
Costs vary by practice, Wunder says, but your insurance can cover the cost if your provider deems nutritional therapy medically necessary. For example, people with type 2 diabetes can often get health insurance to cover the cost of working with a nutritionist.
Either way: "The value of an individualized approach should definitely be taken into account," says Wunder, because that just can't be achieved even with the more customizable weight loss programs described above.
"Dietitians are a lot more approachable than you think," says Gillespie, reiterating the possibility that insurance could cover this.
If you are interested in working with a nutritionist, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Expert Database: This database only contains registered nutritionists who have passed the certification exam and are licensed to provide individual nutrition advice.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions about a disease or health goals.