PROS / The smartphone app ensures you stay on track wherever you are.
CONS / One-on-one support with a trained consultant or dietitian is not available through the online-only program.
VERDICT / Weight Watchers' proprietary points system is a simple, flexible weight-loss method that really works.
Few companies are as widely known in the world of dieting as Weight Watchers. For more than 40 years, the company has helped millions of people around the world lose weight and begin living healthier lives. While many online diet services are restrictive and can be difficult to stick with, this one gives you the flexibility to eat what you want, promoting the philosophy that you'll ultimately eat less if you opt for healthy, filling foods. Weight Watchers Online earns our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for this notable flexibility among the best online diet plans, as well as an impressive suite of online tools that can help you reach your goals.
Diet & Fitness
Weight Watchers' balanced approach to weight loss and its healthy-eating plan makes it great for steady, healthy weight reduction. With no restrictive prepackaged meals and no food off limits, the plan strives to teach you how to make healthy food choices and become active.
The program assigns every food a point value, which is based on a scientific algorithm that factors in the nutrition of the food and how long it takes your body to burn off the calories from it. The idea is to lose weight by creating a calorie deficit, using the point system as a framework. As long as you stick to your daily point target, you can generally eat what you want.
Because Weight Watchers does not prohibit any foods, it is among the most sustainable plans, helping you lose weight and keep it off for good. This is the best diet plan because it isn't a crash diet. Instead, it teaches you how to adopt a healthy lifestyle. After you learn to use the points system, you can do the program, or a variation of it, for the rest of your life.
When you sign up online, you gain access to several tools that make it easy to convert to a new, healthy lifestyle. The website posts the point values of more than 40,000 foods, making it simple to calculate and track the points of everything you eat. You'll also find hundreds of recipes, a handy meal planner, and useful tips for eating out and on the go.
Weight Watchers also encourages exercise. Much like it does with food items, the healthy-eating plan assigns a point value to various activities, such as cleaning, walking or swimming. The points of a completed activity are deducted from your daily allotment, which allows for an occasional splurge.
While the service doesn't require you to eat its own prepared meals, the company does have its own line of food products, including frozen entrees, snacks and desserts. There is no delivery option with these foods, but you can find them at most supermarkets.
Weight Watchers Online offers all of the essential tracking features we look for in online weight-loss programs, helping you track what you eat and how you burn it off. The most important is its mobile app, which offers easy access to your account and tracking tools no matter where you are.
Since this online diet service doesn't rely on calorie counting, it does not provide a calorie tracker. However, it does offer tools to track your points, weight, meals and fitness. The points system is relatively simple to follow, though it may take some getting used to, since most diet plans focus solely on calories.
Weight Watchers Online boasts a dynamic member community, replete with message boards, blogs and support groups. The program originally started as a weight-loss support group in the founder's home, and community support still plays a vital role in the success of its members. You can even peruse the message boards before you sign up for the program to get a feel for the Weight Watchers community.
In case you want to take your weight loss even further, the website maintains a list of in-person support groups, too. By inputting your zip code, you can find meetings in your area. These groups help you remain accountable and give you a real community that makes goals together.
Even better, Weight Watchers has introduced a new plan this year called OnlinePlus, with the option to have a personal consultant assigned to you. Each coach has been through the program and is an expert on maintaining the points system in his or her own life. You can choose your coach by looking through online profiles. Once chosen, your coach puts together a customized action plan for you and is available by phone or email.
In case you're too busy for face-to-face meetings or speaking with a coach, the service provides educational articles that help you learn more about how to get – and stay – healthy on your own, and a homepage that you can personalize with the tools and features you use the most.
Help & Support
Weight Watchers supports customers with excellent service. When you have questions, its staffers are easier to reach than those of any other diet service we tested. You can refer to a FAQs page or get answers from other users on a message board. If that does not solve your problem, friendly staffers answer phone calls and emails in a timely manner, 24 hours a day.
With the flexibility to eat what you want, as well as mobile access to your online account from any device, Weight Watchers Online is the ideal weight-loss program for busy, on-the-go individuals. The proprietary points system makes it easy to ensure that you burn more calories than you consume, resulting in healthy weight loss. Access to higher levels of support like community meetings or a personal coach are also pluses. This diet costs more than many we tested but provides the best overall value. If you follow the plan, you will lose weight, and if you adopt permanently the things you learn from Weight Watchers, you'll keep it off.