Best Online Diet Services of 2018

Rebecca Spear ·
Digital Photo Editing & Small Appliance Writer
Updated
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We have reviewed online diet services for the past 11 years. In our most recent testing, we compared nine services by evaluating each program's features and having volunteers try out the services. We have determined that Weight Watchers is the best program overall because it truly helps you make dietary and exercise changes to improve your lifestyle and keep extra weight off for the long run. It comes with helpful tracking apps and boasts a strong online community where you can learn and share ideas with other service users. 

Editor's Note: We removed the Biggest Loser Club from our side-by-side comparison because it is no longer available. You can still read our original review, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product's information.      

Best Overall
Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers uses a calorie counting system to help you control the foods you eat. It also has a strong online community so you can learn from others and share healthy ideas with them.
View on Weight Watchers
Best Value
Diet.com
Diet.com offers many of the same benefits as Weight Watchers but at a more affordable price. There are several fitness videos on the website to help you exercise specific areas of your body.
View on Diet.com
Best for Meal Delivery
The South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet helps you eat plenty of lean proteins by providing meal delivery services. There are also dozens of online tools to help you stick to your diet.
View on The South Beach Diet

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Product
Price
Overall Rating
Diet & Fitness
Tracking Capabilities
Community
Help & Support
Weight Tracker
Calorie Counter
Progress Reporting
Food Log
Activity Tracker
Custom Homepage
BMI Calculator
Nutrient Intake
Mobile App
Tracking & Reports
Shortest Plan Available
Price Per Month
Initial Charge
Vegetarian Options
Shopping List Tools
Exercise Plans
Gluten-Free Options
Portion Control Tools
Suggested Substitutions
Virtual Trainer
Dining Out Guide
Personalized Recommendations
Custom Meal Plans
Allergy Options
Exercise Tips
Service Satisfaction
Social Media
24-Hour Support
Weight Loss Challenges
Online Support Groups
Blogs
Dietitian Consults
Community Support
Telephone
Message Board
FAQs
Email
Educational Articles
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$19.95
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Best Overall
Weight Watchers doesn't prohibit specific foods as some other services do, so you can eat all the foods you love and still lose weight as long as you control your intake.
Foods are given a certain point value, which is determined by how many nutrients it provides. As long as you stay within your point limit, you should lose weight. Weight Watchers is known for having a large community that is active and vibrant. You can attend weekly meetings near you or online, and the Connect app gives you further opportunities to connect with other users. If you want additional assistance, you can pay more for personal coaching. Like with many other online dieting services, there is a start-up fee in addition to the monthly payments. Our testers found this service to be very motivating and satisfying. Part of this motivation comes from company-hosted weight loss challenges, exercise plans, portion control tools and a dining-out guide. Weight Watchers doesn't provide a calorie tracker since it works on a points system, which makes it different from most other diet services out there. It helps you track your eating and activity, and it allows you to view progress reports, but there are no exercise tips.
Pros
  • Our testers felt the most overall satisfaction with this service.
  • This service has the best community support.
  • It offers several tracking options.
Cons
  • There is a start-up fee.
  • There is no calorie counting app.
  • The site doesn't offer exercise tips.
$39.95Weight Watchers
Read the full review
Best Value
Diet.com doesn't cost as much as Weight Watchers but still provides lots of effective dieting tools. Perhaps the strongest aspect of this service is the fitness aspect.
There are multiple online videos that help you work on specific muscle groups, which complements the dieting nicely. This company offers diet management tools as well as fitness and weight tracking to motivate you and keep you on track. While these tools are online, they aren't offered through an app since this company doesn't provide any apps. Diet.com's fitness plans are varied so you can choose one that fits your comfort level. There are also 16 different diet plans to help you select the perfect one for your body type and level of fitness. There are plenty of online tools to help you stay motivated, and you can also reach out to the company or other users to get suggestions and share tips. There is a blog with articles from certified fitness experts to give you exercise ideas. Unfortunately, this program does not come with shopping list tools to help you stay on track with your dietary plan. Should you need to contact the company, you will need to do so during business hours since it doesn't have 24-hour assistance.
Pros
  • It offers a lot of tools and is still inexpensive.
  • There is a strong online fitness component.
  • It offers a fitness and weight tracker.
Cons
  • There are no shopping list tools.
  • There is no mobile app.
  • This company doesn't offer 24-hour support.
$39.90Diet.com
Read the full review
Best for Meal Delivery
The South Beach Diet helps you control your caloric intake by reducing the amount of carbs you eat – especially sugar.
It works in three different phases. The first phase takes two weeks and helps you eliminate cravings for starches, carbs and sugars by removing them from your diet. It replaces these foods with plenty of lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods. Phase 2 allows you to reintroduce some foods previously prohibited back into your diet with the intention of having better control over your eating habits. You stay in this phase until you reach your weight goal. Phase 3 allows you to eat all types of food in moderation; this should become the healthy lifestyle you will live by from now on. To make food choices simpler, this program delivers meals directly to your door. While this means very little food preparation is required, it also makes this one of the most expensive dieting services on the market. Unfortunately, there is no food substitution guide. To keep you on track, you can contact nutritionists weekly to ask questions and receive tips. Our own tester was able to lose 10 percent of her body weight within two weeks using this program. The biggest downside to her experience was not being able to access progress reporting through the company.
Pros
  • There are plenty of motivational tools in the app.
  • You can have weekly chats with nutritionists.
  • This helped one of our testers lose weight in just two weeks.
Cons
  • Since this plan includes meal delivery, it is expensive.
  • There are no suggested food substitutions.
  • There is no progress reporting.
$65.00The South Beach Diet
Read the full review

Why Trust Us?

We have been reviewing online dieting services since 2006. In our most recent testing, we assigned a volunteer to each of the dieting services and tracked their experiences to see how effective and motivating each plan was. The best online weight loss programs help you maintain healthy habits over a long period, so we considered systems that don’t force you to make changes so drastic that they lead to dramatic weight loss and subsequent weight gain to match it. When you need to lose weight, a good diet plan can help you achieve your goals for improved health. The best online weight loss programs offer various diet and fitness options as well as a multitude of trackers, which is why we looked for programs that provide a variety of tools and tracking abilities. 

How We Tested 

We used a group of 10 volunteers to see just how well each program motivated and interacted with its members. Our testers were each assigned to a dieting service, and we had them keep track of their experiences in a dieting journal. We also tracked whether they lost weight on the plans. Each of our volunteers stayed true to their diets in order to provide a fair comparison across the board. Companies that helped our volunteers lose weight scored higher than programs that weren't as effective. Our volunteers provided us insight into their experiences with the plans, which we converted into a service satisfaction percentage.

Even if you have specific health or weight loss goals, you may have no idea what type of program will yield the results you're looking for, especially if certain diet programs have failed you in the past. For this reason, we were specifically interested in the motivational aspects of each service. Programs that provide more motivation through the community, weight loss challenges, tools and tips scored higher than programs that didn't offer these features. The number of tools and motivational features also helped us determine whether or not the price of membership was warranted. While we didn't score programs based on their membership fees, we did note whether or not they were on the costlier side of the spectrum.

What to Consider When Choosing an Online Diet Service

Managing how many calories you eat and how many you burn is the essence of a diet. While it is helpful to consider both food and fitness when selecting a diet, most people take in much more food than they can ever hope to burn off. That makes the food portion of each plan especially important. We looked for services that make it easier to eat right, with recipes, recommendations and personalized food plans.

Diet & Fitness: Meal & Exercise Plans
Above all, we prefer the plans that helped our testers lose weight and motivated them enough to validate the price of membership. You'll want a service that has a good balance between encouraging good eating habits and inspiring daily exercise. Its tracking and reporting system should also be easy to use.

Tracking Capabilities: Resources That Keep You on Track
The best way to stick with your diet and know if it is actually working is to comprehensively track your progress. Any online weight loss plan you consider should provide tracking tools that allow you to record your weight, meals, exercise, nutrient intake and other factors. Reporting tools such as line graphs that display your weight loss are also important to help you gauge your progress and results. Most programs should provide a mobile app to help you manage your diet and exercise no matter where you are. Some diet programs include a mobile app to track both food intake and exercise. The best will also sync directly with Fitbit, Apple Heath and other fitness tracking devices.

Community: Feel Like Part of a Team
The support of others can play a vital role in losing weight and maintaining your health. Look for an online weight loss program that boasts a vibrant, active community you can participate in. Elements that mark a strong community include message boards, member blogs and weight loss challenges sponsored by the service to encourage and energize members. Online weight loss support can come from the service as well as fellow dieters facing the same challenge.

Help & Support: Can You Find It Online?
Weight loss programs online should be simple to use, with websites that are easy to navigate. You should have no trouble finding and accessing various tools and features within the service, and customer service representatives should be easy to access by phone, email and live chat if you do have any questions. The best websites also provide FAQs, knowledgebases and articles to help you use the service and diet effectively.


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