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Have you tried to lose weight on your own, only to be less than impressed with your results? Everyone who’s tried dieting has his or her own horror story — after all, who really wants to severely restrict their food intake?
Often times, it’s much easier to lose weight if you have a specific program to follow, which is why commercial weight loss programs are so popular. And yes, some really do work!
Best Weight Loss Program Winners
We chose our best weight loss program winners based on a number of factors, including, but not limited to:
- weight loss success,
- the potential of keeping weight off,
- how easy the program is to follow,
- organic and/or sustainable food options,
- community support,
- online and mobile tools,
- and access to dietitian consultations.
Weight Watchers wins our top spot as best weight loss program for its reputation for success, community support, cost and other great features. Part of what’s so great about Weight Watchers is its method of teaching you healthy eating and portion control, which sets you up for a lifestyle change, not just a short-term diet.
Independent researchers1 found Weight Watchers one of two most successful weight loss programs (the other was Jenny Craig). And the support you get from Weight Watchers and fellow members is unprecedented.
It’s based on a point system rather than counting calories, and you’re largely responsible for making your own meals, so it can be more time-consuming than delivered meal programs like Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem.
Weight Watchers Pricing
There is a $20 initial joining fee for each plan, and Weight Watchers offers discounts on monthly pricing if you sign up for three months. The pricing below is for one month. Discounts are available for longer memberships.
- $19.95 per month for Online Plus Plan
- $44.95 per month for Meetings + Online Plus
- $54.95 per month for Personal Coaching + Online Plus
The following video explains how Weight Watchers’ point system works to help you lose weight.
Jenny Craig comes in second place as our choice for best weight loss program. As we mentioned above, researchers found Jenny Craig one of the two best programs for taking weight off and keeping it off. Jenny Craig is a home-delivery meal system, but you also get a dedicated dietitian through their in-person locations or via their Jenny Craig Anywhere online plan, which includes unlimited video consultations.
You choose your meals every week, and they have a good variety to choose from (although we didn’t see as many vegetarian options as with Nutrisystem). Their prices are significantly higher than Nutrisystem’s, another home-delivery meal system, but we highly recommend Jenny Craig for the busy person, who would prefer to have prepared meals and a regular community of support.
Jenny Craig Pricing
- $99 Enrollment Fee
- $19 per month (1 month minimum)
- $532 per month (average cost of food)
- $116 per month (average cost of shipping)
Nutrisystem, our number three pick for best weight loss program, is one of the most recognized weight loss systems on the market for a good reason — independent research has shown that following the Nutrisystem diet works to lose weight fast. Their new Turbo 10 plan guarantees you’ll lose 10 pounds (and 5 inches) in your first month alone.
With Nutrisystem you don’t have to worry about counting calories or measuring portions, because it’s a home-delivered meal plan, which is high in protein, fiber and zero in trans fats. And overall, customers say their prepared meals are pretty tasty. With Nutri System you get three meals a day and snacks in between meals.
The downsides? You don’t have as much support from their dietitians as our top two picks, and long-term weight retention hasn’t shown the results that Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig have in independent studies.
Nutrisystem offers three plans, all of which include no enrollment fees, no monthly membership fees and free shipping.
- $300 per month (average cost of food)
- No access to dietitians or counselors
- Not as many food choices
- $310 per month (average cost of food)
- Access to dietitians and counselors
- Choose from over 100 foods
Uniquely Yours Plan
- $355 per month (average cost of food)
- Access to dietitians and counselors
- Choose from over 150 foods, including frozen foods
Other Best Weight Loss Program Reviews
Although the following weight loss programs didn’t make our top three, they’re still worth serious consideration, especially if you’re looking to lose weight fast.
Unlike our top three picks, 21 Day Fix by Beachbody is a package you order that contains an eating plan booklet, six exercise DVDs and portion control containers to help you lose weight.
It’s one of the best exercise and diet plans to lose weight fast on the market, with a lot of happy customer reviews on Amazon and around the web. Instead of calorie counting, you follow their easy-to-use portion control containers with their healthy food suggestions for each meal.
And they claim you’ll lose up to 15 pounds in 21 days. This kind of weight loss comes with fairly rigorous exercise (30 minutes required per day using their workout CDs).
The cost is pretty high for a 21-day weight fix, but if you want fast results, we think 21 Day Fix is worth the cost.
21 Day Fix Pricing
- $59.85 Essential 21 Day Fix
- $12.95 Shipping & Handling
Atkins was once considered a fad diet, but thanks to research to back it up, it’s now a well-respected weight loss program. Another low-carb, high-protein diet, Atkins aims to kick your metabolism in gear to burn fat instead of carbs and sugars — hence, the weight loss.
Atkins has two plans: Atkins 20, which is geared towards people who want to lose more than 40 pounds or are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Your carb intake is much more limited with Atkins 20, especially in the first two weeks. Your other option is Atkins 40, which isn’t as restrictive in the types of foods you can eat.
While you can get a free quick start guide and mobile app through their website, there’s not a lot of detail. We recommend purchasing an Atkins book and cookbook to set yourself up for success (see below).
What are the downsides of Atkins? More foods are restricted than some other weight loss programs, and you don’t have access to community support or access to dietitians. But if you don’t need a support system, Atkins has proven successful for millions of people.
Amazon List Pricing
South Beach Diet is a three-step weight loss program started by a cardiologist in 2003. It is one of the most popular low carb diets out there. It’s also one of the best diet plans to lose weight fast — in the first two weeks (Phase 1) you can expect to lose an average of 10 pounds.
South Beach Diet is great for diabetics, but some people may find the diet too restrictive. During Phase 1, you eat a lot of lean proteins, vegetables and healthy fats. What’s not on the menu? All fruits and fruit juices, all starchy foods and dairy products. During Phase 2, you slowly introduce these back into your diet until you reach your goal weight. Phase 3 involves learning how to maintain your weight loss.
South Beach Diet has great online tools and a decent online community, but your access to dietitian consultations is limited compared to some other weight loss programs.
- $65 Initial Registration Cost
- $20 per month (3 month minimum)
So, What’s Our Skinny on Weight Loss Programs?
One of the best long-term effects good weight loss programs can impart is educating you about which foods are healthier options and how to control portion sizes. Follow the advice from WebMD.com — most modern (non-diet) cookbooks include increasingly larger portions, which they call serving sizes.
They’re not the same thing, and you can really cut your calorie and food intake by learning what healthy portions are. Many of our best weight loss programs do just this for you, and it can have a lasting impression on maintaining your weight loss once you’ve completed the diet.
Alternatives to Dieting
If you’re someone who loves to cook, we recommend trying out one of these meal delivery services, many of which have some for special diets including vegan. Or if you tend to graze frequently, consider these healthy snack alternatives.
Which weight loss program has worked for you?
Source:  Annals.org